A central air conditioner is designed to never lose refrigerant, it should last longer than the system itself. When a refill is needed it's usually the result of a leak caused by a manufacturing defect, lack of maintenance, or damage to the unit.
Refrigerant is what extracts the heat from the air through the transfer of heat. If the refrigerant level is low or empty, there will be no transfer of heat. So how do you know if your central air conditioner needs a recharge? The symptoms of low refrigerant levels include:
Warm air is blowing through the vents. This is a telltale sign of lack of refrigerant. While there can be other causes, such as a malfunctioning thermostat, a slow reduction in cooling is most likely caused by a refrigerant leak.
The AC unit is freezing. Refrigerant is supplied through the unit's condensor coils. If you notice a buildup of frost or ice on the coils it usually indicates that there is a leak.
If you're having either of these symptoms a qualified HVAC technician should inspect the unit. If the refrigerant level is low, the cause of the leak should be diagnosed and repaired before recharging the unit. Refilling the AC's refrigerant is a task for a professional HVAC technician. In fact, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) mandates that a certified professional perform the procedure.
An annual AC inspection will help to find small problems before they lead to problems like a loss of cooing from a refrigerant leak.
If you're central air conditioner is not cooling, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help diagnose the cause and recommend solutions to get the cold air flowing again.