3 Signs That Your Air Conditioner Needs Refrigerant

For many households the summer, being without air conditioning is an unthinkable scenario. Nevertheless, there are plenty of problems that could easily sideline your A/C system when you need it most. For instance, a lack of refrigerant can prevent your A/C system from cooling properly.

Here are a few signs that your air conditioner may be due for a refrigerant recharge.

1. Lukewarm Air

Your A/C system uses its refrigerant to absorb and transfer heat from your home's indoor air to the air outdoors. Having the right amount of refrigerant is crucial for this process. Without it, your A/C system won't be able to remove heat and deliver cool, conditioned air in its place.

A blast of tepid or lukewarm air is usually a sign that your A/C system may be low on refrigerant. However, you should rule out other causes of lukewarm air, such as a clogged evaporator coil or dirty air filter, before having your refrigerant checked by a trained professional.

2. Hissing and Bubbling Sounds

Unlike other fluids, refrigerant does not evaporate or dissipate on its own. The only way for the A/C to run out of refrigerant is if there's a leak somewhere within the system. Unless you have a UV light and your A/C system's refrigerant contains some sort of UV dye, visually tracking down a leak will prove next to impossible.

Instead, you'll need to keep your ears peeled for hissing and bubbling -- two noises that often indicate a refrigerant leak in progress. Worn out seals and O-rings on refrigerant-handling equipment and pinhole-sized leaks in refrigerant lines are the most common sources of refrigerant loss.

If you hear any bubbling or hissing while your A/C system is running, have your HVAC technician check it for leaks.

3. Heavy Ice Buildup

When your AC system is properly charged, high pressures inside the coils help keep temperatures on the surface above freezing. When your A/C system is low on refrigerant, the resulting low pressures can cause coil temperatures to drop, causing moisture near the surface to freeze.

A light dusting of frost on your A/C system shouldn't be anything to worry about -- this often happens when your A/C system is hard at work. But when you start seeing heavy amounts of frost or ice covering your refrigerant lines, coils, and other parts of your A/C system, it's a potential sign of your A/C system being low on refrigerant. 

If you have further questions or concerns, discuss them with a residential air conditioning service such as one found at https://www.advancedheatingandcooling.com.