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A Homeowner's Guide to AC Refrigerant

Answering Common Questions About Refrigerants

When someone uses the word refrigerant, several ideas may come to mind. People may associate the word with refrigerators, freezers, car engines, or air conditioning. The fact is, all of these things are associated with refrigerants in some way. Refrigerant, also called coolant, is a chemical fluid housed inside a closed set of coils in an air conditioning system (or refrigerator, etc.). Refrigerants are converted from liquid to gas and back to liquid to cool the appliance using it. This article will introduce homeowners to the basics of this substance.

What Type of Coolant Does an HVAC System Need?

fridgerantFortunately, coolant is not a part of a home’s AC that needs regular attention. It is part of a closed system of coils. It should not need to be refilled or changed. If the refrigerant is low, there is a leak somewhere in that system of coils that should be repaired, and the coolant can then be replaced. The required refrigerant that an AC unit uses can be found on a sticker attached to the unit or the user's manual. 

Unfortunately, a homeowner can’t just buy any refrigerant and put it in their AC. If the wrong refrigerant is used, it can cause even more damage to the unit’s internal workings. If an AC unit was built before 2010, it likely uses a refrigerant called R-22, also known as Freon. However, this refrigerant is no longer manufactured due to its harmful effects on the environment. 

Why Do Refrigerant Leaks Happen?

hvac Though refrigerant is supposed to stay in the coils, refrigerant leaks are not uncommon. They happen for many reasons, but the most common ones are:

  • Punctures or pinholes in the tubing
  • Age(wear and tear)
  • Corrosion and rust
  • Contact with acidic substances

How Can a Homeowner Recognize a Refrigerant Leak?

Refrigerant leaks are fairly easy to spot. Though there are many different symptoms, one or more of them will be particularly obvious. Here are a few examples and explanations listed below:

  • Frozen Coils: If the coils that house the refrigerant are covered in ice, this is a sign that there is a leak.
  • AC Running, But Not Cool: If the air conditioning unit seems to be cycling but has no cool air, a coolant leak may be responsible for the issue.
  • Strange Sounds: A hissing or gurgling sound from an air conditioning system can also signal a refrigerant leak.

If any of these signs are present, it’s time to call a qualified professional immediately. The longer a homeowner waits for help, the more damage can occur. Homeowners should not handle refrigerants themselves because they are dangerous. An HVAC technician will have the expertise to fix the problem and advise on the next steps. It is also beneficial for homeowners to schedule biannual maintenance checks to catch any issues before they cause a malfunction during the hottest part of the summer.

About Star Air Conditioning & Heating

Star Air Conditioning & Heating is a veteran-owned and operated business serving Kissimmee, FL, and the surrounding areas for more than 15 years. They provide 24/7 emergency response, fast turnarounds, and financing. Call them today for air conditioning services in Kissimmee, FL.