Does Your Air Conditioner Just Need More Refrigerant (AKA Freon)?

Does Your Air Conditioner Just Need More Refrigerant (AKA Freon)?

“I hope it just needs more Freon,” you might say, when your air conditioner is not cooling your home sufficiently.

As a brief primer, Freon is a brand name that is not descriptive of all common refrigerants used today, so technicians prefer the generic term “refrigerant” which may describe any number of formulas. R-22, the refrigerant most commonly used a few decades ago, has widely been replaced with systems that use R-410A, which does not contribute to ozone depletion as R-22 does.

You may hope that your air conditioner just needs more refrigerant because you’ve heard that it’s a quick fix, or because a mechanic has added refrigerant to your car’s AC in the past. But could this be what your central air conditioner needs? And is it really a quick fix?

When an Air Conditioner Needs Refrigerant…and When It Doesn’t

There are some signs that your air conditioner needs refrigerant, including the following.

  • Slow performance.
  • Temperature imbalances.
  • Ice on the coils of the indoor unit.
  • High energy bills.
  • Short cycling.

However, it’s important to know that any of these problems could also be caused by something entirely different. For example, a short-cycling air conditioner could be caused by something as simple as a dirty air filter. Temperature imbalances could be due to problems with the ducts.

Why It May Not Be the “Quick Fix” You Imagine

If low refrigerant does happen to be the problem with your air conditioner—and it is a fairly common repair—you should keep in mind that it still might not be the quick fix you imagined. Simply adding refrigerant typically won’t resolve your problem. Refrigerant is not supposed to leak out of the system. It’s not fuel; it should not get used up and need refilling.

Something is wrong, and the best way to resolve the problem for good is to find and seal the refrigerant leak. In the long term, this service is worth it, since your air conditioner can run more efficiently and effectively for longer.

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