If your air conditioner is not properly cooling down your home, you might assume you simply need to add more freon. AC unit shouldn’t run out of freon. There are two reasons an AC is low on freon, if the unit was not properly charged with freon, or there is a leak in the system allowing freon to escape.
If all parts of your air conditioner are in working order, freon should not leak from the unit. Properly sealed air conditioners are made to keep freon inside, meaning you shouldn’t ever have to replace them.
Unlike the gas you put in your car, the home AC unit does not burn through freon. Instead, it should cycle through over and over using the same supply.
What Is freon?
Freon is a generic term used to represent several different types of refrigerants, of which the most common is R-22. Freon is a heat transferring fluid capable of absorbing heat from inside and transferring it outside while simultaneously cooling the air down. This air is then recycled back inside at a much more desirable temperature.
If your air conditioner freon levels are low, you will notice the air coming out of your vents is not cool.
Your air conditioner largely depends on refrigerant to operate. Your unit should continually use the same source of freon without being replenished.
Signs your AC is low on freon typically signal a larger problem resulting in a freon loss.
How To Tell If Your AC Is Low On Freon
When your air conditioner is low on freon, your system won’t produce as much cool air as it usually does. Other signs your unit is low on freon:
- Low airflow coming from vents
- Airflow feels warmer as time goes on
- You notice water pooling near the furnace
- Ice is building up along copper lines connecting AC to the indoor coil
- The increased electric bill for seemingly no reason
- Your home is not cooling off in the same amount of time as usual
If your unit displays any of the above signs, your unit may need more freon, but that will not address the actual problem. Instead, you likely have an AC freon leaks that needs to be uncovered and fixed.
Once the leak is fixed, more freon is added to make up for the lost supply. By adding freon without repairing the leak, you will encounter the same issue within no time at all.
Many newer air conditioning systems are made with stronger welding to reduce the risk of leaks, although both new and old units commonly incur leaks over time. The AC age that are older than 15 years were made with mechanical flared fittings, which are known to vibrate and come loose over time. This contributes to a higher risk of leaks in older AC units.
Annual HVAC tune-ups include checks for AC leaks will help you avoid leaking unnecessary amounts of harmful freon into the environment. This also helps reduce your electric bill, which can get pretty high if your unit is laden with leaks.
Why do AC Freon Leaks Need To Be Repaired ASAP?
If you ignore AC issues related to low freon, some other problems are sure to arise, including:
- Reduced AC efficiency, which translates to higher electricity bills and less overall comfort.
- Evaporator coils can freeze and literally ice up.
- When released into the atmosphere, freon is ranked as a hazardous substance by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In other words, freon leaks directly damage the environment.
- The compressor is cooled by the refrigerant; low freon levels will eventually cause the compressor to overheat and prematurely fail. This may result in the complete replacement of your AC compressor or the entire unit, a much more expensive repair than simply fixing a leak.
- Freon is a toxic substance, all it takes is one drop in your eye, and you can become permanently blinded. The dangerous qualities of freon make it illegal to purchase unless you are a licensed professional.
As of now, air conditioning leaks are never 100% avoidable. As a result, the government has put a plan to phase out freon from the free market.
Freon is being discontinued and completely unavailable from the year 2020. All units made after 2010 are expected to rely on Puron, a much cleaner refrigerant than freon.
Continually adding freon in your AC will cost you a lot of money in more ways than one. Your unit will run less efficiently if it is leaking freon. As a result of these mandated changes, the amount of freon available is rapidly decreasing, causing the price of freon to go up.