In the age of the Internet, there isn’t much information about air conditioners you can’t find. However, this doesn’t mean that all that information is correct. In fact, some of what you find can be based on myths and misconceptions, leading to you treat your air conditioner in a way you think is helpful, but is actually harmful.
There’s one myth, in particular, that seems harmless in theory, but can actually make your air conditioner work quite inefficiently, and could even lead to premature system breakdown. What’s that myth? Read on to find out!
Myth: Refrigerant Is a Fuel
Too many homeowners believe this myth–that refrigerant is a fuel and it “runs out” the way gasoline does from a car. That your air conditioner needs a certain amount of refrigerant to operate, but it’s fine if it loses a little bit throughout each year.
Unfortunately, this is a harmful myth. Yes, your air conditioner can lose refrigerant. But your air conditioner shouldn’t lose refrigerant. Why?
Because this means you have a refrigerant leak!
Whether that refrigerant is in gas mode or liquid, the only reason it will ever exit your air conditioner is if you have a leak. And yes, it does need to be refilled–what we call recharged in the HVAC industry–but once this happens you should never need it recharged again. There’s enough refrigerant in your system upon installation to theoretically last its entire lifespan.
That said, leaks can occur just about anywhere in your system–from the refrigerant line itself, from the evaporator coil, or even from the condenser coil. The area of the leak can even be microscopic, but if it’s big enough to let refrigerant out, it’s too big!
Not only does your system need to be recharged, but the location of the leak needs to be found so we can adequately fix it.
What If a Leak Goes Unchecked?
If your air conditioner’s refrigerant leak goes unchecked, the system can experience a number of problems, including two of the most harmful, a frozen evaporator coil or a broken-down compressor.
A frozen evaporator coil is a problem because this coil is responsible for absorbing heat from your home to make the cooling process possible. When ice is coating the coil, it, ironically, cannot absorb that heat.
The compressor is the heart of your air conditioner and pumps refrigerant through the various components of the system. When there isn’t enough refrigerant, the compressor struggles and can break down. When that occurs, you’ll likely have to replace the entire air conditioner.
Can Refrigerant Leaks Be Prevented?
Any type of AC repair need can be prevented! Well, aside from natural wear and tear. But emergency repairs can be prevented simply by staying on top of your air conditioning service–be sure to schedule maintenance once a year for your AC, and get those smaller repair needs on your schedule as soon as you’re alerted to them.