recharge home acA properly functioning air conditioner never needs to be recharged. Air conditioners are closed systems. Once the refrigerant has been sealed inside, it can circulate continuously until the air conditioner reaches the end of its lifespan. However, even though refrigerant lines are made from steel, copper, and aluminum, they do occasionally spring a leak ‒ normally due to corrosion, vibration, or simple wear and tear. When this happens, you not only need to fix the leak, but recharge your home AC as well. Though many people prefer to tackle home repairs on their own, unless you are a certified HVAC technician, this is one job you should definitely entrust to a professional.

Signs Your Refrigerant is Leaking

Refrigerant leaks can be hard to detect. In most cases, the signs don’t appear for several days or weeks. When they do, the most common ones are:

  • Hissing Noise From the Unit. Refrigerants are stored under high pressure. When your AC springs a leak, it normally creates a hissing sound, like air being let out of a tire.
  • Warm Air Coming From the Vents. Air conditioners depend on refrigerants to absorb and dispel heat. As refrigerant levels drop, your air conditioning slowly becomes less effective. First, it takes longer to lower your home temperature. Next, you’ll notice your utility bills start to creep up. Then finally it stops producing cold air altogether.
  • High Humidity Inside Your Home. Air conditioners don’t just cool the air. They dehumidify it as well. As warm air moves through the evaporator, its temperature drops, which causes water vapor to revert back into liquid, the same way condensation forms on a cold glass on a hot day. But as refrigerant levels decrease, they absorb less heat, which means more moisture gets released into your home.
  • Ice Inside the Unit. Though it seems counterintuitive, low refrigerant causes temperatures to drop inside your air conditioner. Refrigerant expands as it moves into your evaporator, dropping its temperature below freezing. The flow of warm air brings its temperature up again as it literally absorbs heat from its surroundings. But if refrigerant levels are too low, the coils can’t absorb enough heat to raise their temperature, which causes ice to form inside the unit.

Recharging Your Home AC

There are two reasons why homeowners shouldn’t recharge their air conditioners. First, before you can refill your air conditioner, you have to find and repair the leak, which, unless you have a background in AC repair, is easier said than done. Air conditioners are complex machines and tinkering with them can lead to further problems down the road.

Second, and most importantly, refrigerants are potentially hazardous. Old air conditioners use Freon (R-22), a colorless, odorless chemical with a low boiling point, low viscosity, and low surface tension, which makes it an ideal cooling agent. Freon is also a chlorofluorocarbon that attacks the ozone layer. It’s also a powerful greenhouse gas and mildly toxic.

Breathing it in can cause lightheadedness, shortness of breath, organ damage, and even death if inhaled in large quantities. The sale, manufacture, and importation of Freon was banned in 2020. Most air conditioners installed after 2010 don’t use it, but there are some older units still in operation.

Modern air conditioners use Puron (R-401A), a blended hydrofluorocarbon made by combining difluoromethane (R-32) and pentafluoroethane (R-125). It is non-toxic, non-flammable, and ozone safe. However, it is still a potent greenhouse gas. For this reason, to avoid serious harm to yourself and the environment, the EPA has forbidden anyone from handling refrigerants except trained and certified HVAC technicians.

Professional Protection for Your Home Cooling System

HomesentialTM maintains a network of qualified HVAC contractors we dispatch whenever something goes wrong with your air conditioner. These professionals not only have the tools and equipment necessary to repair and recharge your home AC, but hiring them doesn’t cost you a dime.

That’s because HomesentialTM warranties cover your heating, cooling, and electrical systems. When your AC malfunctions, we hire the contractor and pay for the repair and replacement of all covered parts, including your refrigerant. There are no service fees or deductibles either. Homeowners are responsible for their monthly premium and nothing else. That’s full coverage for less than $25 a month. So sign up today to protect your home, family, and finances.