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Signs It’s Time for a Refrigerant Recharge

Today’s central air conditioners are designed to never leak coolant. In fact, the coolant in an air conditioner will often outlast the AC system itself. In rare cases, however, coolant may leak from a system and need a recharge – or more accurately, a refill. Leaks are often caused by some kind of damage to the unit, or a manufacturer defect. In some cases the manufacturer may cover repair of the leak under warranty.

Refrigerants are used to extract the heat from the air, without this heat transfer the system will fail to cool, so the most obvious sign of a leak is when the air coming out of your vents feels warmer than normal. Of course, this will also trick the thermostat into making the AC run longer than normal. This will happen gradually over time as the refrigerant slowly leaks out. Another sign of a refrigerant leak is a buildup of frost and ice on the surface of the AC unit. Once outside the coil, refrigerant is a gas that will freeze on any exposed surface.

If the system does need a coolant recharge the work should be performed by a qualified air conditioner technician who is certified by the EPA to perform the work. Annual AC maintenance is also important to find small leaks before they degrade system performance. If the system is 12 years or older and the leak is large, it may be more cost effective to replace the air conditioner with a newer, more efficient model rather than repair and refill unit.

Have questions about your air conditioner? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing & Air Conditioning, we’re here to help.

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