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Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning Blog

Refrigerant Reminder: You Don’t Need to Add Any (Unless There’s a Leak)

question-mark-badgeWe’ve dealt with this question before, but we hear it often enough that we want to address it now at the point of summer where it often comes up again. You do not need to add refrigerant to your air conditioning system before it “runs out.” This is a common misconception about air conditioner operation. Refrigerant is essential to how an air conditioner runs—it’s a chemical that allows the system to move heat from inside a home to outside—but it isn’t the energy source for the system and it isn’t depleted through normal use.

Fuel vs. Heat Transference Fluid

What is the fuel source for your AC? You know this already: electricity. This is what the AC consumes in order to run, and it’s what you pay for each month to continue to run the AC.

Refrigerant, on the other hand, is a chemical that’s designed to remain at the same level (charge) in the air conditioner for its entire lifetime. As the refrigerant moves through the system, going from the compressor to the outdoor coils and then the indoor coils, it goes through a process of condensation and evaporation. Its pressure rises and falls, it loses and gains heat, it goes from liquid to gas form and back again—and doesn’t dissipate at all during the process.

Adding Refrigerant Is an Occasional Repair Need—Requiring Professionals

The refrigerant charge of an air conditioner can drop, however, if the refrigerant lines develop leaks. Should this happen, you’ll notice signs such as a decline in cooling capacity, ice appearing along the evaporator coils, and a hissing noise from the cabinet. Arrange for air conditioning repairs with HVAC professionals right away. Not only does the proper amount of refrigerant need to be added (too much refrigerant is a bad as too little) the leaks must also be located and patched.

If you suspect your AC has lost refrigerant, turn to our technicians for air conditioning repairs in Loveland, CO.

Trust to Fort Collins Heating & Air Conditioning: “Big enough to serve, small enough to care!”

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