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Top 5 Signs Your AC Unit is Low on Refrigerant

Posted by: Cooper MechanicalTuesday, June 07, 2016

It’s June, and the Myrtle Beach area has already seen more than a few very hot days, many of them with high humidity thanks to some storm systems moving through the southeast. We’ve discussed how high humidity can make hot days feel even hotter, and ultimately that means you’ll be running air-conditioning more frequently. 

How does your HVAC unit cool your home or office? Well, it wouldn’t happen without refrigerant, a nonflammable gas that many call by the primary brand name Freon. Refrigerant is the ingredient that makes the air coming out of your vents cool. 

Here’s how it works:

In a nutshell, refrigerant is compressed in your air-conditioning unit, typically outside your home, raising both the pressure and temperature of the gas. The gas then moves through the coils in your unit which results in lowering the heat and transforming the gas to a liquid state. At this stage, the cooled liquid is sent to the AC system’s evaporator where it changes the state of the liquid back to cold gas. The cold gas moves to cool another set of coils. These cold, gas-filled coils are the ones that cool the air cycling through the vents in your home or office. So if there isn’t refrigerant, you don’t get cold coils, which means no cold air and a hot, sticky and humid South Carolina summer becomes pretty unbearable.

If the refrigerant is low in your unit, you probably have a leak that needs to be fixed. So how will you know when your refrigerant is low and you need to call Cooper Mechanical Services? Look out for these tell-tale signs of low refrigerant:

Home Takes Forever to Cool

The refrigerant in your coils acts like an ice cube in warm water. The bigger and colder the cube, the faster and cooler the water becomes. If your refrigerant is low, coils will not get as cold and consequently, the air passing over them will not change temperatures as much or as quickly. 

Vents Blow Warm Air

Feeling warm air coming out of vents could be a sign that you are low on refrigerant. Like the first sign, if the coils are not cold, then the air cycling in coming out of the vents the same temperature it is going in.

Higher Electric Bills

You can expect higher electric bills in months when you are using more AC, but if you look at your statement and compare one June to another and notice a big difference, it could be that your HVAC unit is running overtime to keep the house cool. Low refrigerant means not only an uncomfortable house, but bigger bills as well.

Refrigerant Line Has Ice

If you notice ice on the copper line on the big unit outside your home or office, this could mean you are low on refrigerant. When low on refrigerant, it is possible that the cold liquid refrigerant (described in the process above) will flow backward to the copper refrigerant line, causing surrounding moisture and frozen condensation. This is when you certainly want to call a Cooper Mechanical professional to come out as the blowback of coolant can lead to unit compressor damage.

Hissing or Bubbling Sounds

It may be possible that you hear the effects of a refrigerant leak making a hissing or bubbling noise as it escapes the system.

In any case, if you suspect you have low refrigerant and a potential leak, please call Cooper Mechanical Services and let a certified professional help