Can your air conditioning system run out of refrigerant?

If your A/C unit has been on the fritz lately, you’ve likely wondered whether or not it’s out of refrigerant — or if that’s even possible! In this post, we set out to answer that question.

What is Air Conditioner Refrigerant?

Air conditioning refrigerant is a chemical compound, either in a gaseous or liquid state, that is used in air conditioners to absorb heat from your home and to convert the warm air into cool air. Without refrigerant in your air conditioner, it will not work to effectively cool your home.

There are many different kinds available, but the most commonly known types of air conditioning refrigerants are known as Freon or Puron. Freon was used for many years, but modern AC systems are now mostly using Puron, as it is better for the environment.

How does it work?

Inside your air conditioning unit, you will find copper coils. Refrigerant works to travel within these coils to change low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. The refrigerant will absorb the heat throughout this process and release it as it moves through the air conditioner, which ultimately helps circulate cool air throughout your home. The refrigerant will travel to the outdoors and release the heat via condensation, which cools it down. 

Does it Run out or expire?

Owning a home with an air conditioning unit requires ongoing maintenance to ensure that it functions effectively and has a prolonged lifespan. Many homeowners frequently replace their air filter in their home’s air conditioning unit but neglect staying on top of managing the unit’s refrigerant. As mentioned previously, ensuring proper refrigerant will ensure that your air conditioning unit can effectively cool your entire home and use less energy. Furthermore, leaks can be harmful to the environment and should be avoided when possible.

A properly maintained unit should have consistent refrigerant levels throughout the lifespan unless leaks are experienced. Each manufacturer of air conditioning units should indicate the proper level of refrigerant for optimal performance. If your AC unit was not professionally installed or undercharged, your unit might be lacking refrigerant. Another reason could be that there is an unknown leak. Adding more refrigerant to a unit that is leaking will not solve your problems, as leaks must be repaired to prevent ongoing damage and problems.

Identifying Leaks or Problems with Refrigerant

To assess if your AC unit has any refrigerant problems or leaks, you may notice some signs that it is time to call a professional. Increased monthly bills, blowing warm air, and loud noises might be signs that your AC unit needs a tune-up.

To prevent issues before they occur, homeowners should be regularly maintaining their AC unit with routine, annual HVAC tune-ups. Commonly seen issues, such as damaged valves, capillary tubes, and accumulators, can all be potential problem sources when it comes to refrigerant issues. Too much refrigerant or too little can also cause concerns, so you want to ensure you’re maintaining a level that is recommended by the manufacturer of your unit. 

Costly Monthly Bills

Have you noticed your monthly energy bill seeming costly? One telltale sign that your AC unit might be leaking refrigerant is increased monthly bills. Your unit will have to work increasingly harder to compensate for leaks, which will lead to this increased cost in energy. Not only will you incur more of a monthly expense with leaks, but it will also cause wear and tear on your AC unit, which will reduce its lifespan and lead to more long-term problems. For that reason, it is recommended to address potential concerns regarding leaks as soon as possible.

Warm Air coming from AC Unit

Another sign that there may be a refrigerant issue with your AC unit is that it is blowing warm air. If you are noticing warm air coming from your home’s vents, this may mean there is a leak or low refrigerant pressure. 

Loud Noises

If your AC unit is making any loud noises that seem unusual, this could indicate a potential problem with the refrigerant. Any loud noises coming from your unit should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible to prevent long-term damage and maximize its effectiveness and functionality.

Are you noticing some AC unit problems in your home? Concerned about potential refrigerant issues? Our American Heating and Cooling experts are a trusted source for residential HVAC services since 1981. When it comes to refrigerant AC issues, we’ve seen it all. Give us a call to request service for your HVAC unit today!