Your home’s AC system is designed to keep indoor temperatures as comfortable as possible. During hot weather, the AC is supposed to absorb the heat in warm indoor air and carry it outside, leaving cooler air to circulate throughout the house. This helps keep indoor temperatures cooler, and more comfortable, than the usually hot outdoor summer temperatures.
When your AC system is low on refrigerant, it will struggle to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures as its cooling potential will be substantially reduced.
If you are concerned about the performance of your central AC unit, with respect to cooling your home in hot weather, then low refrigerant levels might be to blame. To help you find out whether your home’s air conditioning system is low on refrigerant, be on the look-out for the signs listed below.
Role Of Refrigerant In Air Conditioning Units
To better understand how the signs listed below indicated that your central AC system is how in refrigerant, it’s important to have an idea of its role in keeping your home comfortable during hot summer weather.
The refrigerant works to absorb the heat or warmth in indoor air, and moves it outdoors as it travels to the outdoor unit. Indoors, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the surrounding air to power the change from liquid to gaseous state as it passes through the evaporator coil. When it reaches the outdoor unit, the refrigerant dumps the indoor heat as condensation forms on the condenser coil. Of course, this is but a simple description of the role of the refrigerant in AC systems.
Air conditioning units come with the right amount of refrigerant when initially purchased/installed. This refrigerant is not consumed by the unit, and should therefore remain constant throughout the systems useful life. However, it’s common to find units suffering from low levels due to one reason or the other. Check here to find more about the best refrigerant for your system – Bluon Energy.
Effects Of Low Refrigerant Charge
Now that you understand more about the role of the refrigerant in your AC system, you need to understand why you should be concerned about its charge. The term “charge” is used to refer to the amount of refrigerant in an air conditioning system. A low refrigerant charge can result in a number of unwanted effects
First and foremost, low refrigerant levels in your home’s AC system result in inefficient operation. Simply put, in order to maintain cool and comfortable indoor conditions, the AC will have to work harder, consuming more energy and time. This usually comes with a huge increase in energy bills.
Air conditioning systems that suffer from low refrigerant charge usually have to work harder to achieve the desired cooling effect, if possible. This means that some of the main components of the system, such as the compressor, will have to work harder for longer. This effectively means that they go through an enhanced rate of wear and tear, leading to frequent breakdowns.
As you can see from the above, the effects of low AC refrigerant levels can be quite costly especially when they go unchecked for an extended period of time. This is exactly why you need to be on the look-out for the signs of low AC refrigerant levels.
Signs Of Low Refrigerant Charge
At this point, you should have a good understating of the role of refrigerant in air conditioning units, as well as the importance of maintaining the required level of charge.
Warm Air Coming From Vents
The main function of air conditioning units is to maintain comfortable indoor conditions by circulating cool air within the applicable space. Feel the temperature of the air coming from the vents in the air conditioning duct system to find out if it’s cool or warm; warm air is considered to be an indication of low refrigerant levels. Air conditioners that have low refrigerant levels usually struggle with cooling indoor air, and as such, circulate warm air.
Failure To Reach Thermostat Settings
AC systems that are low on refrigerant consistently fail to match thermostat settings. Check the thermostat to ascertain that the indoor temperature setting is in line with your preferred conditions. If not, be sure to adjust it and then wait to see whether the air cools down as you’d expect it to.
Air conditioning systems that have low refrigerant charge will fail to attain the thermostat settings as they have lost their cooling ability.
Low refrigerant levels in an AC system cause the formation of ice around the evaporator coil or copper tubing around the compressor. The ice forms because the temperature of the refrigerant is too low when it reaches the evaporator coils. Low pressure refrigerant also flows back into the copper coils causing freezing.
Oil Deposits Around The Compressor
Oil streaks around the compressor and tubing leading out of the compressor are considered to be an indication of leaking refrigerant. The high pressure refrigerant usually forces compressor oil out of the pipes as it escapes.
Water Around The Heater
If you see any water or moisture around the AC system’s furnace, this could be an indication of low refrigerant. This moisture comes from the melting ice accumulated on the evaporator coil or copper tubing.
Unexplained Electricity Bill Increase
As previously stated, low refrigerant levels force the entire AC system to work harder as its tries to make up for the lost cooling ability. This can result into a significant change in your electricity bills. If you notice a significant but unexplained change in your home’s electricity consumption over time, then low refrigerant levels in your AC might be to blame.
Bubbling Or Hissing Sounds
Unless the refrigerant in your home’s AC system was not properly charged in the first place, the only reason it would be low is due to a leak. The leak can be anywhere along the system. A hissing sound would be heard if the refrigerant is escaping in gaseous state, while a bubbling sound is heard if it’s escaping in liquid state.
Call In The Pros
If your home’s AC system is displaying any of the above signs, then it’s time to call in the pros. An AC maintenance professional will have the necessary training to detect and ascertain refrigerant leaks, fix them and top up the refrigerant, and with it, bring performance up to optimum levels.