How Do I Know If My Air Conditioner Needs Recharging?

two air conditioner systems

Keep your system cooling

We can all thank Willis Carter for the air conditioning we enjoy here in North Carolina during these hot and humid summers!  While Mr. Carter is the man behind our comfort, it is the technology of today that keeps us cool with the refrigerant recharge system. 

What is refrigerant recharge?  Before we go into that, let’s discuss what refrigerant is, because there are many that do not know or understand. Refrigerant is low-pressure fluid or gas compound that absorbs the heat from the environment. As it absorbs that heat, it switches into a high-pressure liquid. The components of your air conditioner then send that refrigerant outside where the hot air is blown over the coils and drains it outside.

The refrigerant cools down then, becoming a low-pressure gas again while another fan inside your home blows air over the cooling coils. That cooled air is then distributed throughout your house and this cycle keeps repeating as needed to meet the thermostat setting. 

Refrigerant charging is when the gases that are used in this process are replenished. Refrigerant charging also is done when repairs are made to the system or there has been a leak in a line.

Can you recharge a home air conditioner?

There was a time we were able to purchase a refrigerant recharge kit at your local hardware, home improvement center, or a heating/air service center. Unfortunately, or luckily, depends on how you look at it, the EPA ( U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has a law in place that prohibits everyday people from purchasing refrigerant. Recharge process can only be done by a technician that has been certified and license by the EPA. These technicians are trained how to recharge refrigerant safely for your, your family, themselves, and the environment. 

How do I check my AC refrigerant?

When your air conditioning doesn’t seem to be cooling as well as it was, it could need refrigerant recharge. Or it could a number of other things that are keeping it from working as well. Since the process of refrigerant recharge has to be done by a certified and licensed professional now, here are some thing you can do yourself before making that phone call: 

  • The Fan – With the air conditioning turned on, do a visual check of the fan. If it does not move when you turn the system on, you could have a faulty fan switch or a faulty fan. Either way, you’ll need a professional to repair or replace this. 
  • The Filter – change or clean the air filter. The filter gets clogged up with debris, dirt, and dust. When this happens, it can’t cool your home as it should. By keeping it cleaned or changed on a regular basis, you’ll help your air conditioner work more efficiently, keeping your home comfortable. 
  • The Frost – if there is frost on the lines, motor, or any part of your air conditioner, it is probably leaking the refrigerant. A refrigerant recharge may help, so call your technician. They will inspect the unit and determine if a refrigerant recharge will fix it or if there is something more serious. 
  • A Hissing Sound – another indication that a system is low on refrigerant is a hissing sound. That hissing sound is usually coming from a leak. Again, this will need to be serviced by a certified, licensed technician. 
  • The Soap Test – a soap solution is an old school standby test that is cheap and easy. Simply spray a mixture of soap and water on the area where you expect the refrigerant could be leaking. If bubbles appear, then your system needs to be checked by a technician for refrigerant recharge or other issues. 
  • Electronic Detectors – this is device in the form of an electronic detector that makes sounds and will show on an indicator that your air conditioning has a leak. These can be found at a home improvement store or a heat/air supply store. 

How long does refrigerant last in AC?

The compressor and the refrigerant inside your air conditioner should last between 12 years and 15 years. When a system is low on refrigerant, it usually is from a leaking line or the compressor. Both of these need to be inspected and serviced by a certified and licensed technician. 

line of ac systems

How do I know if my air conditioner needs recharging? 

If you have been diligent with the changing or cleaning of the air filter but still feel warmer air from the vents, then your system likely needs a refrigerant recharge.  Have you noticed frost building up on the lines or anywhere inside the system? If so, then you have a refrigerant recharge leak and need the services of a professional. 

A professional technician may come to you tell you that the refrigerant will not recharge. When this is the case, it is likely the compressor needs to be replaced.  Depending on the make, model, and age of your system, a completely new system may be the better choice financially. 

Before 2020, we were concerned about the changes the EPA was making to refrigerant recharge materials and what it was going to do to our way of living. Well, that question of “What will replace refrigerant in 2020?” has been answered with a refrigerant R410A.  

The R-22 refrigerant that have been used for years, even decades, is no longer available. The concern of the old school refrigerant was because of the depleting ozone. The new R410A is said not to be harmful to the ozone, making our air quality better. Need refrigerant recharge in Charlotte, NC? Call 704-964-8375 today.