As our air conditioners start whirring again with the return of warm weather, they may not perform the way we expect. Your air conditioner may have a leak, causing the system to shed its valuable refrigerant fluid. You can easily clear brush from the air conditioner or clean dust from the filter, but replenishing the unit’s refrigerant may prove more difficult. Here is what to do when your AC’s refrigerant is low.
Eliminate Other Possibilities
Ice around the coils and pools of water outside the unit are signs of a leak. But you shouldn’t jump to conclusions—especially when it comes to expensive supplies like refrigerant fluid. Before you decide that a loss of fluid is responsible, go through the process of elimination. Make sure that your lack of cool air isn’t the result of other issues that air conditioners have in the summer, such as troublesome leaves and dirt getting stuck in the unit or a clogged filter in the home. If everything else is in order, you can likely blame a refrigerant leak.
Call a Professional
Some corners of the internet will walk you through step-by-step instructions for working with chemicals that can cause immediate and severe skin and respiratory damage. But because of the pressurized toxic fluids involved, you shouldn’t try to make this repair yourself. Contact a trusted HVAC technician with the information regarding your refrigerant and your suspicion of a leak.
Think About Replacement
Before you call for repairs, we have a note on an important change in refrigerants that could affect what to do when your AC’s refrigerant is low. Consult your manual to determine which refrigerant your air conditioner uses. Older models use R-22, better known as Freon, but this harmful chemical has given way to the safer R-410A, which trades under the brand name Puron. Newer units use this fluid instead. As of 2020, manufacturers have fully phased out production of R-22 due to the chlorofluorocarbon’s harmful effects on our ozone layer. If your AC unit requires Freon, your home requires a new air conditioner.