How to tell if you're low on AC refrigerant

How Quickly Does my AC Unit Use Up Refrigerant?

Trying to figure out how quickly your AC unit is using up refrigerant is actually a bit of a trick question. In fact, your AC unit should never use up the coolant. Sure, you may have had to have someone come and refill the Freon or other refrigerant in your unit, but that wasn’t because it was being used up like fuel.

A Closed System

In order to understand what job your refrigerant plays, you should understand what is meant by a closed system. A closed system, most simply, means that your AC unit should never gain or lose any refrigerant. While there are some interesting processes that take place in cooling your house, your AC should never have a net loss (or gain) of refrigerant. Refrigerant is never consumed in the process of cooling your home much like anti-freeze is not consumed by your car to keep your engine cool.

What Does It Do?

Air conditioners make use of a very common physical property of liquids and gasses. They work by heating up a gas to make it expand. As the gas expands, it cools down. As it cools, it exchanges the cool temperature with the heat outside in order to expand again, and the process repeats. The hot air in your house is used as the engine to fuel the process.

To understand how this works, consider using a can of spray air, the kind you would use to clean dust out of your computer. As you spray the air out of the can, the can cools off. This is because as the air expands out of the can, the remainder inside must expand to fill the space of what has left. This causes the can to drop in temperature.

Instead of your air conditioner spraying the refrigerant out into the air (that would be very bad for the environment), it sprays it into a device called a condenser. The condenser saves the refrigerant and pushes it back to other parts of the system so it can be used again.

So Why Do I Have to Get a Charge?

The reason you may have to get your AC’s coolant filled up is because it is leaking. The first (and major) symptom that might tell you that you are leaking refrigerant is that your AC unit stops cooling your home as much as it had in the past. This is a much more dangerous situation than you might think.

Your AC unit is balanced to have a specific amount of refrigerant in it. If it is forced to work with less, damage can occur to the components of your unit. If you suspect that you need to have your refrigerant refilled (or charged), don’t wait to have it done.

Having your AC unit serviced regularly by the professionals at Executive Air Conditioning can help you to detect leaks in your cooling system before they become serious. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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