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How Do I Know My AC is Low on Refrigerant?

Refrigerant levels

Your AC is designed to cool your home unaided. This means when you see yourself stationing fans all over your home so as to take off the extra heat your AC can’t manage, chances are your AC is not working as it should. That said, there are many components in an AC that at times you may not exactly know where to start from.

Unfortunately, one of the most ignored microsystems is the refrigerant cycle. If you are lucky to have a newer system, refrigerant levels are usually up to the recommended point, but for slightly older systems this may not be the case. Below are the signs which indicate your AC needs a refrigerant recharge.

Your AC Won’t Cool Down

Unless your AC system has completely broken down, your home may still feel a bit colder indoors than outdoors.  However, if you adjust your thermostat to lower and lower levels without seeing any noticeable change in your indoor temperature, then the refrigerant may be to blame. The refrigerant plays a key role in ferrying heat from your home to the outdoor environment. This means when it is not enough, your system won’t perform as well.

Gurgling or Hissing Noise

There are many reasons why your unit may produce gurgles and hisses. However, when these noises combine with the fact that your home is not adequately cooled, they may point to a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant systems ought to be sealed permanently and none of the fluids should escape. Hisses and gargles are signs of leakages especially when they happen around the refrigerant line. The best step to take is to turn off the unit and immediately call for service.

Failure of Registers to Blow Cool Air

When your registers don’t blow cool air, there must be something wrong. However, some homeowners especially those running heat pumps have been confusing this problem with the fact that during winter, the registers may not feel as warm. Heat pumps work just like refrigerators. During summer, they help pull out heat from your home and send it outside while in winter they do the opposite. If the vents within your home are not up to scratch, having your AC serviced and refrigerant recharged could help sort out the problem.

Skyrocketing Energy Bills

Your energy bill is a direct reflection of how your unit is consuming energy. You may even try to turn the AC lower and lower to see whether you can get some relief on your bill, but still see no impact. Most of the times, a unit that is low on refrigerant tends to consume an enormous amount of energy. To help tame this, call your local HVAC expert to do a refrigerant check.

To add to the above, whenever you see ice building up on your refrigerant line, just know that something is not right with the refrigerant. What happens is, low refrigerant levels make your evaporator coil to get colder and colder. This is because the refrigerant absorbs little heat from indoors and the colder refrigerant progressively keeps cycling over and over. This causes the ice buildup.