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Ace Hardware Home Services Blog

Why Does AC Refrigerant Loss Matter?

Temperatures may be cooling down, but if your air conditioner has been experiencing trouble, and especially if that air conditioner is a heat pump that will also be used for heating this coming fall and winter, then the time to take care of it is now. One of the most common problems we get called for end up being repairs due to refrigerant loss.

There’s a common misconception about refrigerant in that it is something that depletes from the air conditioner–as gasoline does from a car. On the contrary, your air conditioner has enough refrigerant upon manufacturing and installation to last its entire lifespan. So, if you’re experiencing refrigerant loss it means you have a refrigerant leak. And since your air conditioner needs refrigerant to function, this is obviously a problem. Read on to learn more! 

Is Refrigerant Loss That Big of a Problem?

Yes! Your air conditioning system is designed for a specific refrigerant “charge.” This means it needs to have a certain level of refrigerant in it to function. when this charge drops too low, the air conditioner will begin to malfunction. Less refrigerant means a disrupted heat exchange cycle. That is, the refrigerant can’t absorb as much heat as it’s supposed to from the outside and you’ll start noticing warmer air coming in through the vents.

This decline in performance will only increase, no matter how slowly the refrigerant leaves your system. And once the evaporator coil has trouble absorbing heat, it won’t be able to cool down the remaining refrigerant as it should, and the moisture along the coil will begin freezing and turn into ice. Seeing ice anywhere on your air conditioner is never normal, and is absolutely cause for concern.

What will eventually happen if refrigerant loss is not addressed, is that your compressor will fail. In almost all cases, when a compressor fails it’s usually more cost-effective to replace the whole entire air conditioner than it is to repair or replace just the compressor. Why not avoid this if you can?

Warning Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

Fortunately, although refrigerant loss can be subtle, there are signs you can watch out for that indicate you are in fact losing it from your system. For instance, you might hear a hissing or a gurgling coming from your system. The hissing can indicate refrigerant gas leaving your system while gurgling may indicate that the refrigerant is in its liquid form while leaking. Neither is more ideal than the other and both require repair and for the refrigerant to be recharged.

The other sign of refrigerant loss is a loss of cooling. Like we said above, refrigerant loss can lead to ice development on the components of your AC. One of these components is the evaporator coil. When this coil is blocked with ice, it cannot properly absorb heat and therefore disallows your air conditioner form actually doing its job. If you suspect you have a refrigerant leak or were told you have refrigerant loss, then the best thing you can do is give our pros a call ASAP!

For quality Hickory, NC air conditioning services,

contact Ace Hardware Home Services today! 

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