We are of the mind that any air conditioning problem is a problem to take very seriously. Your comfort is always on the line if your air conditioner is not functioning properly, even if the system is still up and running at a reduced capacity. But while we prioritize any and all air conditioning repairs, some issues are more time-sensitive than others. When it comes to AC repairs that really demand immediate attention, the refrigerant leak is right there at the top.
If you don’t totally understand the role that refrigerant plays in your home cooling system, then it is impossible to fully grasp just how detrimental a refrigerant leak can be to your air conditioner. It also means that this is the post you need to read! Whatever air conditioning service in Pasadena, CA you may need, our professionals are here to do the job right. Read on, and be sure to reach out with any concerns that you may have.
What Does Refrigerant Do, Exactly?
Well, it changes from a gas to a liquid and back again.
Need more detail? We figured as much.
An air conditioner does not generate “coolness” the same way that a furnace or a boiler generates heat. When an AC cools your home, the coolness that you feel is the absence of heat. This means that the air conditioner functions by removing heat from your home. And that is just what the evaporating and condensing of refrigerant allows for.
Your air conditioner has an indoor coil and an outdoor coil. The indoor coil is where the refrigerant evaporates, and is called the evaporator coil. The outdoor coil is called the condenser coil, and is where the refrigerant is condensed. As refrigerant evaporates indoors, it draws heat out of the air passing through the coil. That heat is released as refrigerant condenses outdoors. The cycle continues until desired temperatures are met.
How Refrigerant Leaks Affect the Heat Transfer Process
If your refrigerant charge is low, it means one of two things. It wasn’t sufficiently charged to begin with, which is quite rare, or you’ve got a leak. Refrigerant operates in a closed loop system. It is not discharged and it is not consumed by the system in the cooling process. A low charge is going to have a number of ramifications for your comfort and the condition of your system.
Energy costs will rise, as the system runs for longer periods and struggles to remove a sufficient amount of heat from the air in your home. The coil can get too cold because not enough heat is being withdrawn from the air, and that can lead to the condensation collected on that coil to freeze. That layer of ice further insulates the coil, exacerbating the issue further.
Your system may then start to short cycle, meaning that it will start up, run only briefly, then cycle back down. Not only does this waste even more energy, but it also puts a lot of strain on the system in addition to the strain causing the short cycling to begin with. Force your system to run long enough on a low refrigerant charge, and you may wind up needing to replace the AC entirely.