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A Homeowner’s Guide to Air Conditioner Refrigerant: What You Should Know

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Have you ever wondered what makes your air conditioner cool, especially on those scorching summer days? It’s the A/C refrigerant, the unsung hero behind your refreshing indoor breeze!

Let’s explore what refrigerant is, how it works, and why it hurts  your system when it leaks.

What Is Air Conditioner Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a special liquid in your A/C. This isn’t just any liquid; it has a low boiling point, giving it a super-ability to change back and forth between a liquid and a gas at temperatures much lower than water can. This process is the key, because it helps remove heat from inside your house to outside. Without refrigerant, your A/C system would function more like a ceiling fan, just moving the air around without lowering the temperature.

How Does Refrigerant Work?

Here’s how the refrigeration cycle works step by step:
• Compression: The refrigerant starts as a warm, low-pressure gas inside your indoor A/C system. It’s squeezed through a component called a compressor, where it becomes superheated and highly pressurized.
• Condensation: The superheated gas is pushed to your A/C condenser (located outdoors). The outside air absorbs the refrigerant’s heat and is blown away by a fan. Because it has lost heat, the refrigerant then changes into a liquid.
• Expansion: This now-liquid refrigerant then moves through a tiny hole or valve and comes out of the other side with less pressure. This causes the liquid refrigeration to cool down and return to gas again.
• Evaporation: This chilled refrigerant gas travels through the tubing of the evaporator coil inside your home. Your system draws in your unwanted warm air before passing it over these coils, where the refrigerant absorbs the air’s heat. Then, this newly cold air blows through your home’s venting as air conditioning.
• Return—The refrigerant, now a warm gas again, goes back to the compressor to start the cycle over.

So, in simple terms, the refrigerant is like a heat messenger. It picks up the heat from inside and drops it off outside, over and over, doing its job to keep you cool.

Signs of an A/C Refrigerant Leak

Since air conditioners are closed-loop systems with set refrigerant levels, any refrigeration leaks will disrupt the refrigeration cycle. Refrigeration leaks will result in higher energy bills, reduced cooling efficiency, and a shorter system lifespan. Without a repair, you may never be able to get the temperature in your home to a comfortable level.

Keep an eye out for these unmistakable signs of a refrigerant leak:

• A hissing or bubbling noise? This indicates refrigerant is escaping or oxygen is entering the system.
• Ice build-up? If there’s not enough refrigerant, the system won’t be able to move heat as it should.
• Warmer air? Reduced refrigerant levels diminish the system’s cooling capacity.
• A/C short cycling? The system is cycling in short bursts to compensate for reduced refrigerant levels.
• Higher electric bills? This means more energy is needed to account for reduced refrigerant levels.

Fixing A/C Refrigerant Leaks

Even the smallest refrigerant leak is a serious issue that requires professional assistance and repair.

It’s strongly advised to never attempt a DIY repair for a refrigerant leak. If mishandled, air conditioner refrigerant poses serious dangers—it’s highly toxic and potentially lethal.

Professional HVAC technicians have the necessary skills and equipment to handle refrigerant and safely repair your cooling system. Without proper expertise, tools, and experience, trying to fix the problem yourself could damage your air conditioner. One wrong move has the potential to result in costly repairs. Avoid the risk and leave the repair of a refrigerant leak to the heating and air professionals.

Black Diamond Can Help

If you suspect your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant call the experts at Black Diamond today. Our experts will provide an evaluation of refrigerant levels and work to find the source of the leak.

Regular maintenance in the form of an A/C tune-up can help spot problems like refrigerant leaks. Regular air conditioner maintenance can provide:
• Increased A/C system performance
• Better air conditioning efficiency
• Fewer home visits for A/C repair
• Cleaner air quality
• Increased lifespan of your A/C system
• Better overall home comfort

Call Black Diamond Experts Drains, Plumbing, Electric, Heating & Air or schedule an appointment online today!

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