What is Refrigerant and How Do You Know if You Have a Leak?

Posted on: July 31, 2017

how to check the refrigerant level of an AC What is air conditioner refrigerant?

Want to know how to check the refrigerant level of an AC? We have the answers. Refrigerant is the substance that is contained in the copper coils of an AC unit. It switches between liquid and gaseous states and in the process cools and dehumidifies the air. For decades, the most common refrigerant was R-22. However, this refrigerant has ozone-depleting properties and is therefore extremely harmful if it leaks out of the AC unit. Right now, R-22 is being phased out and gradually replaced with ozone-friendly alternatives, such as R-410A, which doesn’t contain chlorine.

When to recharge AC refrigerant?

Your AC is a closed, sealed system that doesn’t use up the refrigerant. You absolutely don’t have to top it off with refrigerant just because some time has passed since you bought your system.

At the time the equipment was originally installed, it should have been charged with the correct amount of refrigerant. However, off-season installation in cold weather may be a factor in achieving correct values. Action Air offers complimentary checkup and adjustment if necessary for your system after it has had time to perform.

Once the system has been adequately charged, maintenance is recommended to monitor its performance.

If more than one pound of refrigerant is required to meet the correct level, most likely there is a leak. Instead of dumping more costly pounds of refrigerant into the system, put your money towards finding the source of the leak.

How to check AC refrigerant levels?

If it takes significantly longer to cool your home and you suspect your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, then the first thing to do is go to your outdoor condenser unit. Find two copper lines that go into the unit and put your hand on the larger, probably insulated, line. If the line is sweating and if it is cool to the touch, chances are your AC has enough refrigerant.

Next is to check the tubing of your unit. Inspect the lines for kinks, holes and hissing or gurgling sounds.

Of course, the easiest and most reliable thing to do is to have a professional inspect the unit for leaks. There have been many instances when homeowners thought that they have a leaky refrigerant problem, when in fact their outdoor unit was just dirty, or their ducts were blocked, etc.

What should you do if it is leaking?

Your AC refrigerant has to recharged, but it’s also essential to locate the leak(s) and solve the problem. It’s highly unlikely that you can do this on your own, without a professional. Remember, you cannot solve the problem by simply adding a pound or two of refrigerant. If an AC technician tries to sell you the recharge without tackling the leak source, that’s a clear indicator of un-professionalism.

How to prevent refrigerant leaks?

Keep pets away from the outdoor unit. You can put up a fence around to prevent your dogs or cats from urinating on the unit. Dog’s urine is highly acidic, which can damage the coils. The fence should give the unit at least 2ft space all around, so the unit can function without problem.

Adjust sprinklers so they don’t directly hit the unit. This will cause premature corrosion of the coils.

Have your unit inspected annually by a reputable and reliable air conditioning in San Diego. Inspections will ensure any and all problems are nipped in the bud, saving you the money and stress during the summer heat.

Air conditioning in San Diego is our specialty!

Action Air Conditioning, Heating & Solar has been serving the San Diego area since 1975. For more than 42 years, we have managed to maintain and improve our high standards and service. Fully committed to serving the communities with knowledge, professionalism and respect, Action Air has earned the trust of thousands of San Diegans. Reach out to us today for any kind of AC installation, service or repair you need!