Signs Your AC Needs to Be Recharged
Virtually all modern AC systems operate by using a compressor to pressurize and circulate refrigerant and oil through the system to produce cold air. AC systems operate using two different sides, the high side and the low side. The refrigerant starts out as a gas in the low pressure side of the system, and is converted into a liquid in the high side. The constant circulation of refrigerant through the high and low pressure sides of the system is what keeps the vehicle cool.
Because AC systems are pressurized, they must be completely sealed to function properly. Over time, these pressurized systems can eventually develop leaks. Once any sort of leak has begun, they will eventually cause enough refrigerant to leak out to the point where the AC will no longer be able to produce cold air. Once the refrigerant and pressure level of an AC system drop too low, it must be recharged with pressurized refrigerant before it will function properly. Usually an AC system will begin to display a few symptoms when it needs to be recharged.
1. Loss in cooling capability
The most obvious symptom that a vehicle needs to be recharged is that there will be a noticeable loss in the overall cooling capability of the AC system. The AC system operates by circulating pressurized refrigerant, so if the amount drops too low it will eventually begin to affect the operation of the system. You may notice that the air is not blowing as cold as it was before or is not blowing cold air at all.
2. AC clutch fails to engage
With the AC control is set to maximum coldness, you should be able to hear the familiar clicking sound of your AC clutch engaging. The clutch engages with a signal from the AC pressure switch, which reads the pressure level of the system. When the level drops too low, the pressure switch will not activate, and therefore the clutch will not engage. Without the AC clutch engaged, the system will not be able to circulate even the low amount of refrigerant it may have and the system will not work at all.
3. Visible signs of refrigerant leaks
A more serious sign that the car needs an AC recharge is that there will be visible signs of refrigerant leakage. If you spot any signs of a greasy film on any of the AC components or fittings, or any pools of refrigerant underneath the vehicle, then this is a sign that a leak has developed and refrigerant is being lost. The refrigerant will continue to leak until the system no longer functions.
Because the need for a recharge indicates a loss of refrigerant, there is likely a leak somewhere in the system that may need to be addressed before having this service. For this reason, if you suspect your system may need a recharge, first have the AC system inspected to ensure that the AC recharge addresses the problem properly.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Signs Your AC Needs to Be Recharged.
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Signs Your Central Air Conditioning Needs Recharging
If your cooling system suddenly stops giving you the cold air you expect, it is a very good sign that your central air conditioner needs charged. Regardless of the model you have, air conditioners cannot run faultlessly for life. Sooner or later, one part or the other becomes affected. When this happens, it is highly advisable to let a professional get the Freon charged and conduct maintenance to save you money in the long run.
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How to Tell Your Air Conditioner Needs Recharging
Because there are several things that can go wrong with air conditioners, it is important to make sure that a low charge is the actual problem. When the central air conditioner needs charged, the first thing it does is blow out warm or room temperature air. Simply place your hand in front of the vent that releases air into your home and feel its temperature for a few minutes.
Checking thermostat readings is also a great way to detect charging problems. If your thermostat seems to be broken or malfunctioning, try to reset it and turn on the conditioner to check for any temperature changes. Broken thermostats are not necessarily a sign that you need recharging. When in doubt, it is better to call a specialist to diagnose the problem properly.
How to Conduct an Inspection At Home
Some maintenance tasks can be done at home while others require professional help. Learning the difference between the two can help you save money, time and prevent you from causing further damage to the system.
Apart from checking thermostat and the temperature of air coming out of air vents, you can do a visual inspection of the fan. When you turn your air conditioner, the fan should automatically start moving. If not, it might indicate a problem with the motor. Placing your hands inside can be very dangerous. This is a problem only professionals should fix.
It is quite easy for air filters to get clogged with dirt and debris. If you know how to check filters safely, make sure they are clean and unblocked. Sometimes all a cooling system needs to get up and running again is a thorough clean.
Leaking coolants tend to cause malfunctions in many air conditioners. Fortunately, leaks are easier to detect because they cause frost to build up on tubes, motors and other parts of the system. Should you notice a leak or frost build up, contact us immediately to help you fix the problem. Coolants are gaseous in nature and might cause harm when handled inappropriately.
If you manage to clean and sort out minor maintenance tasks without getting your air conditioner back in shape, most often than not, it means you need your Freon charged.
DIY vs. Professionals
Recharging the cooler at home seems like a great way to save money, but it is dangerous and should never be done yourself. Owners lack the professional knowledge to do it properly, not to mention the licensing.
Professionals are the correct option here. Not only can they charge your system properly, you can also score other maintenance checks during the service appointment. By checking your entire system, they can diagnose and recommend the right solutions for your problem. You can easily avoid costly mistakes and prolong the life of your cooler at the same time. Remember to “Like” us on Facebook: Click Here.
Filed Under: Air Conditioning, General, HVAC Maintenance, HVAC SystemTagged With: Central Air Conditioner Needs Charged, Checking ThermostatSours: https://www.allweatherheatingandairconditioning.com/blog/signs-central-air-conditioning-needs-recharging/
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“How Often Should My Air Conditioner Need a Freon Charge?” A New Jersey Tech Explains
Jun. 27, 2016
Clarifying note: Freon is a brand name of refrigerant that has come to be used generically to mean any refrigerant. In this article, we use the word Freon and refrigerant interchangeably.
An AC doesn’t “use up” refrigerant. So you should never need to recharge your air conditioner with more Freon—unless there’s a leak.
Yet, here’s a scenario we hear about way too often:
- AC isn’t blowing cold air
- Some air conditioning tech says you need Freon
- You pay to put 1-2 pounds in your system (this is called “charging” your AC unit)
- AC works for the summer
- Next summer, repeat steps 1-4
If this has happened to you, call a new New Jersey AC company! You are either being scammed or the tech is incompetent (or both). Neglecting to fix the refrigerant leak is like knowing there’s a nail in your tire but just filling up the tire with more air instead of taking the nail out and fixing the hole. We can help repair your AC today.
Not only is this more expensive for you (you have to keep paying to recharge your AC), but if your system still uses the R-22 refrigerant, it’s also extremely bad for the environment. R-22 is being phased out because it depletes the ozone, which contributes to climate change.
Read more about the phaseout of R-22 at phaseoutfacts.org.
So what should have happened when you called the AC company about a possible Freon charge?
The AC tech should spend time troubleshooting your air conditioner
Just as a doctor takes into account your whole body’s health when assessing your symptoms, an AC tech should look at your entire air conditioning system before making a diagnosis and prescription.
In this case, the air conditioning technician should:
- Look at your air filter and thermostat
- Inspect the indoor unit
- Take the cover off your outdoor unit to look for problems
Why not just immediately measure the amount of refrigerant in the air conditioner?
If you have other problems (dirty air filter, frozen evap coils, etc.), they will affect the reading of the refrigerant charge in your central air conditioner.
So, once they've inspected everything else, the technician will know if their tool for measuring Freon (AC manifold gauge) is accurate or not.
If refrigerant is low, they should tell you about the leak
Rather than just saying, “You need more refrigerant; here’s the cost,” your AC technician should let you know that you are low on refrigerant and explain to you that means you have a leak.
Then, depending on your situation, they may give you a couple options that can include:
Option 1: Recharging your AC without fixing the leak
Yes, we just said that’s not a good idea. But finding and fixing a leak can be expensive. So you may not want to do it if both of the following are true:
- You’ve never had to recharge the unit before—The leak is likely a slow one and recharging the unit may get you through the summer.
- You’re going to be replacing the unit within the next year—No use in sinking money into something you’ll soon be replacing.
However, even if you go this route, we recommend having the tech put in a UV dyewith the new refrigerant. Then, the next time your AC is low on refrigerant, the AC tech can easily locate the leak and let you know the cost to fix.
Option 2: Finding and fixing the leak
The tech will likely give you a price to locate the leak. Then, once they’ve found the leak, they’ll give you the price to fix the leak, which will depend on where it’s located. In many cases, the AC tech will have to:
- Find the leak using electronic equipment, UV dye or a bubbling agent
- Evacuate all the refrigerant (this is a fancy word for removing the refrigerant from the system)
- Fix the leak
- Recharge the air conditioner
- Test to make sure the leak has been fixed
Option 3: Replacing the unit
Yes, we know replacing the whole unit because of a refrigerant leak seems extreme. And it doesn’t happen that often.
But in some situations it makes sense.
For example, let’s say your air conditioner is 14+ years old and to fix the leak we have to replace the condensing coil. Do you really want to put $1,000+ into your current system when you’ll still likely need a whole new system in a year or less?
This is usually the case if your system uses R-22 refrigerant and the fix for the leak is extremely costly. Since R-22 is being phased out, parts are harder to come by and more expensive. And so is the refrigerant itself.
In the long run, upgrading to a new system that uses R-410A refrigerant may be a better choice. (Plus, this new refrigerant is better for the environment!)
Think your AC needs refrigerant? Contact a NJ pro
Need AC help and live in central New Jersey?
Air Experts can fix any AC problem. And we’ve been serving the entire central Jersey area since 1994. Contact us for more information.
4 Signs Your AC May Need a Refrigerant (Freon) Charge
Refrigerant is the “blood” of your AC system. Without the right amount, your system won’t be able to cool your home properly. But, determining whether or not your AC system needs refrigerant can be tricky because low refrigerant “symptoms” can also be the symptoms of other AC issues (we’ll dig into that later).
However, if you think your AC may be low on refrigerant, look for these 4 signs:
- Your energy bills have increased
- You notice warm air coming from your vents
- There’s ice or frost forming on your AC
- Your AC is making a hissing or bubbling noise
In this blog, we'll explain the 4 "signs" above and how low refrigerant might be the culprit. We'll also explore other reasons you may be noticing each sign so that you can determine whether you actually have a refrigerant issue or not.
Prefer to speak with a professional? We get it! We’ve had lots of experience working with refrigerant issues, so no matter what is going on, we will be able to diagnose the problem and find a solution. Learn more about the AC repair services we offer or schedule service!
Sign #1: Increased energy bills
If you notice that your energy bills have increased and you haven’t made significant changes to your home’s temperature, you may have a refrigerant leak.
As we mentioned above, refrigerant is the “blood” of your AC system. Your AC blows warm air over an evaporator coil which is full of refrigerant. The refrigerant then picks up that heat from the air and carries that heat outside where it’s dumped.
If there is not enough refrigerant in your AC system, your AC can’t get rid of as much heat per cooling cycling, meaning your system will need to run longer and work harder to cool your home. Longer run times mean higher energy bills.
Other issues that can cause increased energy bills
While increased energy bills are a sign of low refrigerant, increased energy bills can also be the result of:
- An aging AC system- If your AC system is 10+ years old, your high energy bills are likely the result of an aging system. Over time, your AC becomes less efficient, which means it has to work longer and results in increased energy bills.
- A system that’s too small or too large for your home- If your AC system was recently installed, your high energy bills could simply be caused by a system that is too small or too large for your home. A system that is too small will have to work constantly to meet demand and a system that is too large will constantly turn on and off. Both of these scenarios use more energy than if your system was to just run steadily, which can increase your cooling bills.
- A dirty air filter- If your AC system is neither new nor 10+ years old, our next suggestion would be to check your AC filter. If it’s dirty, it could be restricting airflow to your AC system, which will make your AC work longer.
If you have a clean filter, your system is properly sized and is under 10 years of age, you probably have a refrigerant leak.
Sign #2: Warm air blowing from supply vents
As we mentioned above, refrigerant absorbs heat from your home’s air and transfers it outside. If refrigerant levels are low, your AC can't absorb enough heat per cycle, meaning you may notice warmer air blowing from your supply vents.
Other issues that can cause warm air to blow from vents
Before you call a professional to come and recharge your system, we’d recommend replacing your air filter. If your AC filter is clogged, it can prevent your system from pulling in enough warm air (meaning there will be less cool air for your AC to blow out).
However, if you have replaced your AC filter and you notice that your AC system is still producing warm air, you probably do have low refrigerant levels and should reach out to a pro.
Sign #3: Ice or frost on your AC
If you spot ice or frost anywhere on your AC, it could be a sign that your refrigerant levels are low. When refrigerant levels get too low, it can cause the temperature of the refrigerant to drop below normal design temperatures. Eventually, this will cause ice to build on the refrigerant lines and the evaporator coil.
Other issues that can cause ice/frost to build
- Dirty air filter- Low airflow can cause your evaporator coil to freeze, and if your air filter is clogged, it could reduce the airflow to your AC system. So, if you haven’t checked your air filter already, you should do that before calling a professional.
- Closed vents- As we mentioned above, low airflow can cause your evaporator coil to freeze. To prevent this, you should ensure that all of your vents are open and unobstructed.
If you’ve checked your air filter and ensured that your vents are all open, you likely have a refrigerant leak and will need to reach out to a professional for help.
Sign #4: Hissing or bubbling noise
If you hear a hissing or bubbling noise coming from around your outdoor AC unit, chances are it’s the sound of refrigerant escaping through a leak.
If you hear hissing, that means the refrigerant is escaping in gas form. If you hear bubbling, it’s leaking via liquid form.
Other issues that cause a hissing/bubbling noise
Not many other AC issues cause a hissing or bubbling noise, so if you hear this sound, you likely have a refrigerant leak. You’ll want to call a professional ASAP to come and repair it.
Getting your air conditioner fixed
If you suspect you have a refrigerant leak, you’ll need to contact a professional to check it out. Refrigerant is a toxic substance, so it’s not something you can legally fix on your own.
But a word of warning: Refrigerant isn’t “used up” like gas in a car. If you are low on refrigerant, you have a leak in your AC system. So, if a tech simply tops off your refrigerant without fixing the leak, it is a temporary solution and you will likely be in the same situation again soon.
Make sure they find the leak, evacuate the remaining refrigerant, repair the leak and then add the appropriate amount of refrigerant for your system.
Live in the Phoenix area and need an air conditioning contractor?
Contact George Brazil to fix your refrigerant issues.
Charged to be ac needs
How to Recharge Home AC Unit and How much does it Cost
Here is everything you need to know about recharging your AC unit. As temperatures start to rise, so will the need for your AC unit, make sure it is in top shape and ready to go.
With a yearly A/C tune-up each spring and regular filter changes, your A/C should function properly and keep your home cool and comfortable all summer long. But if warm or room-temperature air is coming out of your vents, something’s wrong. It could be that your HVAC unit needs an A/C recharge.
When you hear someone talking about recharging an A/C unit, they’re talking about adding more refrigerant to the unit and ensuring the refrigerant is properly pressurized within the refrigerant system. If you need Freon for your air conditioner, you’ll need to contact a professional heating and cooling technician –under EPA regulations, only a certified professional can recharge your home’s HVAC system.
Here’s what you need to know about recharging your A/C unit:
How Often Do You Need an A/C Recharge?
The refrigerant systems within A/C units are sealed. This means that home A/C units are designed not to need a recharge, unless a leak develops in the refrigerant system. When you have your yearly A/C tune-up, the technician will check to make sure that your unit’s refrigerant levels and refrigerant pressure are adequate and that the refrigerant system is leak-free. If your unit’s refrigerant system does spring a link, that leak will need to be repaired, and the refrigerant system will need to be refilled.
Most of the time, when an A/C unit is leaking refrigerant, it will blow warm air. That’s because the refrigerant is no longer there to cool the air passing through your unit. But it won’t go from cool to warm overnight like it might in the case of, say, a broken thermostat. It will slowly get warmer over time as your unit’s refrigerant leaks out, so you’ll notice your unit’s effectiveness diminishing over weeks or months.
Another sign that your refrigerant is leaking is the buildup of ice or frost in or on the unit. That’s because the refrigerant gas cools everything it touches to the point of freezing – that’s how it cools outside air to pump into your home. When you look inside your unit, it’s normal to see some frosty-looking coiled pipes. Those are your condenser coils, a primary part of the refrigerant system. If everything inside your unit looks frozen, or you’re seeing frost on the outside of the unit, it could be the result of a leak.
A/C Recharge Cost
The cost of recharging your home air conditioner depends on the cause of the leak. Similary, the costs of buying Freon for an A/C and having a professional refill will depend on your service provider.
If you need an A/C recharge, there’s a chance your unit also needs work to repair the cause of refrigerant leak, which can mean an added expense. YourAmerican Home Shield® Home Warranty may help offset the cost of these repairs.
Repair or Replace?
Should you repair your A/C unit or replace it altogether? A unit that is 15 or 20 years old and leaking refrigerant may need to be replaced because, even if it is repaired, it is reaching the end of its lifespan, and something else will most likely go wrong with it soon. If your unit was newer, but the leak is the result of poor manufacturing, replacement may also be a good option. For most newer units, however, repair may be a good option. Whether or not you replace or repair your unit will depend on what parts need to be replaced, the size of the refrigerant leak, and the labor involved.
If your A/C unit is blowing hot air, it may need a recharge, but that’s not always the case. Your unit may need a good, professional cleaning, a new filter or a new thermostat instead of a refrigerant refill. When your A/C breaks down, your home warranty from American Home Shieldcan help defray the expensive costs to repair or replace your covered components. If your A/C is no longer working the way it should, call American Home Shield today to take advantage of your home warranty coverage. With help from our professional, experienced contractor network, your home can be on the road to recovery - cool and comfortable again.
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How to Know If a Central Air Conditioner Needs a Charge
Central air conditioners are designed to continually cool the home to the desired temperature of the homeowner. The coolants they use are supposed to last the lifetime of an air conditioner, but accidental damage, wear and tear, contaminants and other issues can spring up. In these cases, the air conditioner may need a charge of coolant after the issues are fixed. Determining the issue in advance, however, can help you avoid adding coolant to the unit if it actually doesn’t need it.
The thermostat is the first place to look if you suspect that the air conditioner may have lost its charge of coolant. In addition, sometimes units merely need a reset to trigger the electronic elements of the system. To start, set the thermostat to around 85 degrees and wait half an hour or so, then adjust it to around 60 degrees and wait for the unit to kick on. If the house begins to cool, it was simply a reset. You can also reset the unit directly at the source or flip the breaker to the AC unit. Additionally, inspect the thermostat unit itself by removing the plate cover to see if any of the components within are sticking due to humidity buildup or dust.
If the vents are blowing room-temperature air, or warm air, rather than cold after you clean the thermostat and reset the unit, this is a sign that your coolant might be out of charge in the air conditioner. You check this by holding your hand in front of the vents and feeling for warm air. Give the machine at least 15 minutes to see if maybe it was just residual air coming out of the vent system as it makes its way throughout your home. If the air still isn’t cold, it is a sign that you could need to call a technician for a coolant charge.
The coolant used in air conditioner units is in gaseous form that can freeze elements it comes into contact with. Leaks are easily spotted because there will be frost buildup around connectors, such as where the coolant tank connects to the air conditioner. The buildup can also be on the surrounding hoses, tubes, fan motors and beyond. If you have already reset the unit, checked the thermostat and verified that it’s still blowing warm air, it could that you have a leak and there is no more coolant in the system. Frozen components are proof that there is a leak and the coolant is escaping the system rather than cooling the air.
Air conditioning units should be cleaned regularly to keep dirt and debris from building up within the machine. All units have filters, but the filters can become clogged over time. Additionally, outdoor units can have the covering panels come loose from wind during a storm, which will blow debris into the unit. This can cause the fans to stop working, thus resulting in no air being pushed through the vents, or it can clog the air filter and reduce the air flow, which will lower the cooling effect the unit has on your home. Before you automatically blame the coolant system, check your system for dirt and debris and give everything a good cleaning. If the unit still doesn’t push cold air after that, call a technician to recharge the system.
Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.