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ServiceMax Blog

Does Refrigerant Get Used Up?


Each part of your air conditioner is highly important to the cooling process. But there is one part of the system that is more often misunderstood than the rest and that is the refrigerant. The refrigerant in your AC is vital to the process of cooling the air.

Here’s the thing that you need to know to start things off. Refrigerant doesn’t dissipate over time. It isn’t used up the way fuel is. That is why if you start to have trouble with low refrigerant levels, you need to reach out to a professional to address the problem.

Here is what you need to know about what causes refrigerant loss and why it requires air conditioning repair in Winnetka, IL.

Refrigerant is recycled, not used up

Your air conditioner is installed with the exact amount of refrigerant it needs to get the job of cooling your home done for the entirety of its lifespan. Yes, you read that right. This means that needing to get more refrigerant added to your system is not something normal. It is actually a sign of a problem within the system that is allowing this vital substance to escape.

What causes refrigerant loss?

The short answer: a leak!

Your refrigerant line can wear down much like the other parts of your AC system. The difference is that when the line wears down enough it will spring a leak. This allows the refrigerant to escape the line, reducing the ability of the air conditioner to absorb heat and cool your home.

The signs you have a leak in your refrigerant line

If your system develops a refrigerant leak, you’ll want to try to catch it as early as possible. Be on the alert for any of these warning signs that your AC is losing refrigerant:

  • Noises: An AC unit with a refrigerant line leak may produce bubbling or hissing noises.
  • Smells: Refrigerant doesn’t have a strong odor but it does smell slightly sweet. If you notice a sweet smell while your AC is running, it may be a sign of a refrigerant leak.
  • Operation: Refrigerant leaks will slowly but surely impact your system’s operation. This will start to reduce the amount of cool air produced and may lead to ice build-up on the evaporator coil or short cycling from your AC.
  • Energy bills: A refrigerant leak will also eventually increase your energy bills.

How do you address a refrigerant leak?

When your system develops a refrigerant leak you will want to have a professional visit your home to find and patch the hole. From there they will also be able to refill (recharge) your refrigerant supply and make sure that it is pressurized properly. This is all necessary to get your AC functioning effectively and efficiently again.

Please note: If you encounter a so-called handyman who tells you that your refrigerant just needs to be topped off, they are giving you the wrong information! This is a great way for them to make money by not fixing the leak which allows the problem to continue. Use the information we’ve provided above so you can protect your system and your wallet!

Having trouble with your AC? Contact ServiceMax to schedule your repairs with an expert technician.

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