You come home one day from work and your home feels warmer than usual. You tinker with the thermostat until you hear the unit turn on to begin cooling – that’s a good sign. At least your unit is running. But then you hold your hand under an air vent to feel warm air coming out. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many of us, it’s a refrigerant leak.
But what exactly is refrigerant? You may know that refrigerant is inside your AC unit, and you know that it has the job of cooling your home’s air. Most people don’t know much more. And in fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about refrigerant. One is that refrigerant is a fuel that runs out over time. This simply isn’t true. If you have questions about refrigerant or need an air conditioning repair in Athens, GA, our team can help. In the meantime, you can read on to see how much you really know about refrigerant and maybe learn something new.
Do All HVAC Systems Work the Same?
Yes and no. All HVAC units do use refrigerant though, so that’s a commonality. That is unless you have an air conditioner that was installed before 2010. Then you may have freon instead. Newer units have refrigerant because it’s less harmful to the environment. So all units that have refrigerant do work the same at a high level. Sure, they have different capacities and different thermostats, but the steps to blow cool air into your home are the same.
- Your evaporator coils turn liquid refrigerant into its gas form
- Gas refrigerant creates cools the environment so warm air cools as it passes through
- Your AC unit pushes cool air out through the ductwork and vents
- The heat from the evaporator coils becomes liquid refrigerant
- Hot air is channeled outside your home and away from the evaporator coils
You read that correctly. Your unit is constantly creating new refrigerant as it cools your home. So while it isn’t possible for refrigerant to run out, there can be a leak that causes levels to become low enough that it can’t cool your home. Without a leak, refrigerant has the potential to last the lifespan of your HVAC system, which is ten to fifteen years.
Signs of a Refrigerant Leak
You definitely want to identify a refrigerant leak early if you can. Left unchecked, refrigerant can corrode the parts inside your HVAC system and lead to costly repairs. You want to call an expert for AC maintenance if you begin to notice:
- Energy bills going up month after month
- Warm air coming from the vents
- Your unit taking longer to cool your home
- Higher levels of humidity inside
- A lack of airflow
- Noticeable water leaks coming from your unit
Refrigerant leaks are caused by a variety of problems, but age is the biggest factor. Parts simply wear down over time and need to be repaired or replaced. However, a refrigerant leak can spread damage quickly, so they need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Addressing a refrigerant leak is crucial for your unit’s performance and energy bill alike.
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