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AC Refrigerant FAQs

What Are Refrigerants?

The science behind what makes an air conditioner work is fascinating. Think about a can of compressed air used to clean electronic equipment commonly found in homes or around the office. Ever notice how the can gets cold as the pressure is released? This is because the liquid inside is dropping in pressure and turning into gas, causing a corresponding drop in temperature.

The same thing happens inside the coils of an air conditioner. In an evaporator coil structure, refrigerants are allowed to turn to gas. As the refrigerant turns to gas or boils, it turns cold and absorbs heat from the air blown across it. This is how an air conditioner removes heat from inside a home.

Different compounds exhibit different behaviors at various temperatures and pressures. As a result of this scientific principle, compounds with the right characteristics to be used in air conditioners are known as refrigerants because they efficiently transfer heat inside the AC.

Which Refrigerant is Best to Use?

different kinds of refrigerantsMany chemicals have been used as refrigerants over the years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t discovered until the 1990s that many of these compounds have huge environmental ramifications. For example, R-22, or Freon, was the most popular refrigerant until it was phased out in 2010 for causing damage to the ozone layer.

Since refrigerants are dangerous chemicals, how can homeowners know which one to use? Don’t worry. First, the right refrigerant is written on the nameplate of the AC unit. Secondly, it isn’t up to the homeowners to need to know what refrigerant to use. Refrigerants are highly regulated chemicals that can only be purchased and handled by licensed professionals. As a licensed professional, an AC technician will know the right type of refrigerant to use and understand that using the wrong one can ruin an air conditioner.

What Causes Refrigerant Leaks in Air Conditioners?

common place for leakWhile wear and tear are common in any appliance, they are not the biggest cause of refrigerant leaks in air conditioners. For years, engineers tried to understand why reliable air conditioners would suddenly spring leaks after seven to ten years in service. It didn’t happen in laboratory settings, only in homes. Finally, the mystery was solved.

The most common place for refrigerant leaks is in the copper joints in an evaporator coil. Copper is a resilient material, but acids can damage it. But where are acids coming from in interior air? The answer is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde comes from cooking, beauty products, and construction materials. When it condenses on copper, it forms formic acid that can cause refrigerant leaks.

What Are the Signs That It’s Time to Call an Expert?

Refrigerants must be kept at the right pressure for the air conditioner to operate properly. When that isn’t maintained, it can cause problems like:

  • Frozen coils
  • Insufficient cooling power (blown warm)
  • Water leaks around the AC unit
  • Gurgling noises

When these signs are present, a professional must assess the air conditioner. They will need to locate the source of the leak and repair it before refilling it with refrigerant. Homeowners should have routine AC maintenance performed to prevent AC refrigerant leaks.

About A-Plus Air Conditioning & Home Solutions

A-Plus Air Conditioning & Home Solutions is a family-owned and operated company with over 45 years of experience serving the residents of Austin, TX, and the surrounding areas. They provide flat-rate pricing and financing. Call them today for air conditioning services in Austin, TX.