As air conditioning repair professionals in the Clay County Florida area, we are often asked questions about the units we service. One of the most common questions we get is:
“How do I know if my AC unit needs Freon?”
What is refrigerant and what does it do?
Freon is a refrigerant chemical blend that cycles through an air conditioner, changing from a liquid to a gas and back again, all the while absorbing heat from inside your home and releasing it outside.
Checking the refrigerant pressure, or charge, is one of the many steps we perform as part of our preventive maintenance contracts, and for good reason. If your AC unit has low pressure or needs to be recharged, this is a signal that a larger issue may need to be addressed.
The refrigerant goes through repeated cycles of evaporation (absorbing heat) and condensation (releasing heat), but it does not disintegrate like gasoline in a car. It remains at a set level, known as its charge. This means if you’re low on refrigerant, you have a leak somewhere.
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How do you spot a refrigerant leak?
Not sure what to look for? Here are five signs to watch for when checking for a refrigerant leak.
1. Utility bills are increasing.
A unit with low refrigerant will have to work longer and harder to cool your home, since it can’t get rid of as much heat per cooling cycle. Longer run times will mean higher energy bills.
2. Your vents are blowing warm air.
If your refrigerant is low, the AC unit won’t be able to properly absorb heat and cool the air efficiently, resulting in warm air blowing from your supply vents.
3. There is ice on your unit.
If you spot ice or frost anywhere on your AC, it could be a sign that your refrigerant levels are low. When refrigerant levels get too low, it can cause the temperature of the refrigerant to drop below its designated temperatures. Eventually, this will cause ice to build on the refrigerant lines and the evaporator coil.
4. Water is leaking from the AC unit.
Water around your air conditioner is never a good sign. As the ice or frost on your refrigerant lines melt (see above issue), water will accumulate around the AC unit. This water will then drip down to the floor or pan under your unit, leaving the telltale puddle that something is malfunctioning.
5. You hear a hissing or bubbling noise.
Hearing hissing or bubbling around your outside unit is a sure sign that your AC is leaking refrigerant. Hissing means refrigerant is leaking in gas form, while bubbling signals a liquid leak.
How is a refrigerant leak repaired?
It’s important to note that simply adding more refrigerant to your system is not the solution. Remember, refrigerant doesn’t get used up. Adding refrigerant without identifying and fixing the leak will lead to a re-occurrence of the above issues and repeated costly house calls.
A trusted AC repair technician will identify the problem, recover the remaining refrigerant, repair the leak, and add the refrigerant back to your system. If your technician simply tops off your refrigerant but does not work to fix the leak, it’s time to find a new technician.
Refrigerant leaks can happen for a number of reasons, such as external damage to your unit or neglected maintenance. Scheduling regular preventive maintenance for your AC unit can help detect the early signs of a leak and resolve the issue before it gets out of hand.
Let DDI fix your refrigerant leak!
If you think your AC unit might be leaking refrigerant, give us a call! Our technicians at DDI Southeast would love to help you find a solution, and set up a preventive maintenance schedule that works for you.