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Roadrunner Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog

Is Refrigerant Loss Ever Normal?

refrigerant-line-behind-air-conditionerThe short answer to this is “no,” but don’t worry—we’ll elaborate below.

Your home’s air conditioning system—whether it is a standard central cooling unit or a heat pump—is a refrigeration system, just like your freezer or your fridge. It cools down air by not generating cooled air but by removing heat from the air in a heat transference process.

Refrigerant is circulated through a set of outdoor and indoor coils, evaporating in the indoor coils to draw heat from the air, and condensing in the outdoor coils to release heat. This refrigerant is essential to the operation of your air conditioning system, and any loss means you have a leak that needs to be repaired by a professional.

The Problem with Leaking Refrigerant

Any refrigerant-based air conditioner is designed to hold a certain amount of refrigerant. This is known as the air conditioner’s refrigerant charge. An AC system that’s either overcharged or undercharged will experience service-ending problems. And yes, an air conditioner can be overcharged.

It’s more likely though, that when you have a refrigerant problem, it’s a leak you’re dealing with. And this is what can happen as a result:

  • Loss of Cooling: The less refrigerant you have in your air conditioner, the less heat that the system can pull from the air along the indoor coils. Although the change in temperature may not be immediately noticeable, it will be eventually.
  • Ice Development on the Coils: You may see this and think, “wait, isn’t that normal? An air conditioner chills the air, after all.” Well, as counterintuitive as it sounds, less refrigerant can lead to ice forming on the coils, because the evaporator coil indoors can’t remove enough heat from the air to warm up the remaining refrigerant inside. The refrigerant stays too cold, and moisture on the coils freezes. The moment you notice ice anywhere on your air conditioner, call our technicians!
  • Increased Humidity: While your air conditioner isn’t specifically designed for such a purpose, dehumidification is a part of the evaporation process that draws heat from the air and into the refrigerant. If your air conditioner loses refrigerant, your home will experience a humidity increase along with the temperature increase.
  • Burnt Out Compressor: Your compressor is the heart of your air conditioner. Therefore, a burnt out compressor is absolutely something you want to avoid! The compressor is the place where energy is applied to the refrigerant. The compressor will eventually overheat and burn out if there isn’t enough refrigerant, and when this occurs, it will need to be replaced. Unfortunately, it’s almost always a better idea to replace the entire air conditioner at this point—therefore you’ll probably be buying a whole new system much sooner than you planned to.

Call on Our Licensed Professionals

Only a licensed and experienced HVAC technician is permitted to handle and dispose of refrigerant. Therefore, you should never attempt to fix a refrigerant leak on your own, nor should you let an amateur do it. The moment you suspect something is wrong with the air conditioner that might be because of a refrigerant leak, call our techs!

For reliable air conditioning repair in Rio Rancho, NM, contact Roadrunner Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration.

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