If everything is in functioning order, your air conditioner should never require refrigerant. In fact, unless there is a refrigerant leak, a central air conditioner should never require refrigerant addition. However, just like any other machine, appliances do fail. If your unit shows signs of damage or failure, have a professional repair company inspect it before proceeding with work.
Air conditioning systems use a fluid called "refrigerant" to transfer heat from one place to another. As heat is transferred into the liquid phase, it becomes vapor. The vapor moves through the system and is condensed back into a liquid when it reaches its cooling point. This cycle is continually repeated until the compressor stops running. The refrigerant itself does not evaporate or condense; it is the function of the metal parts inside the device that allows this to happen. For example, if the coil on an air conditioner dries out due to lack of use, no more heat transfers and the unit must eventually be replaced.
As long as the compressor is running and there are no major problems detected by inspecting the exterior of the unit, there is no need to add additional refrigerant. However, if the compressor stops running for any reason, it is essential that you protect yourself by adding more refrigerant now before you go outside to check it.
An air conditioner does not "consume" refrigerant. So, unless there's a leak, you should never have to recharge your air conditioner with new Freon. However, just like any other product that contains an element such as oxygen or hydrogen, air conditioners do require replacement of some components during use. This includes the compressor, which is the motor that runs the unit. Most compressors can be replaced without special tools, but some may need to be replaced by a professional repair shop.
Compressors work by reducing the volume of gas (refrigerant) inside them when they are activated. This reduction takes place because some of the gas molecules are split into two pieces instead of continuing on their original path. The result is that less gas passes through the compressor, which causes it to wear out faster. A little bit of gas leaks into the atmosphere whenever refrigerant is changed. This happens even if the compressor is replaced because the old one had these leaks too.
The amount of time it takes for a compressor to wear out depends on several factors, such as how many times it was run last year, how much it was used this year so far, and what type of compressor it is. If you remember anything from high school science, you will know that compressors use up energy while they are running.
The refrigerant system in your air conditioner is a "closed/sealed system," which means it does not enable refrigerant to escape in any way. Of course, if you're running short on refrigerant, your system is leaking. Adding refrigerant without correcting the leak is thus a waste of money. There's a lot of it. The charge for an average-size system is about 20 pounds (9 kg).
That being said, there are some problems with your unit that may cause your technician to recommend replacing it. For example: If your compressor stops working and cannot be started, this would be an indication that it needs to be replaced. Using a bad-fitting compressor cap can also allow refrigerant to escape into the atmosphere. This will happen if the cap is not tight enough. Heating and cooling with a leaky system wastes energy and costs you money. It's important to have your system checked by a professional regularly so it remains safe and efficient.
R-22 is used as a coolant in central air conditioning units that are more than 10 years old. In principle, your air conditioner should never require any additional freon refrigerant. Only if there is a leak in your cooling system will you require extra refrigerant. Modern R-22 systems are designed to handle without problem up to a maximum of 3% leakage.
The use of freon has been discontinued by most manufacturers because of environmental concerns. However, some older systems still use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) instead. These work on the same principles but are less expensive to manufacture.
If you have an older system then it may be necessary to add some freon to your tank. Get advice from someone who knows what they are doing first though; alternatively, you could look at replacing your system with a more eco-friendly model.
The refrigerant system of an air conditioner is a closed (or sealed) system, which means that there is no way for the Freon to escape; because Freon does not deplete, as long as there are no leaks, your AC's Freon will continue to function eternally. Sealed systems are necessary for effective cooling. A depleted refrigerant system will not be able to cool anything effectively.
Freon has a limited life span. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average age of an air conditioner is 7-10 years. After this point, it becomes ineffective at chilling rooms. A new system should be installed instead. Older systems can still work with some modifications, but replacing the system is recommended anyway because older components aren't as efficient as newer ones. For example, an old compressor might not run as smoothly or drive the coils as hard, which could cause excessive wear and tear on these important elements.
Once you reach the end of the Freon's lifespan, you will need to get a replacement unit. It is easy to install a new system - just make sure you follow all the instructions carefully so you don't expose yourself or others in your home to dangerous chemicals.
While it isn't always the case, low Freon might be the source of your AC problems. Adding additional Freon, on the other hand, isn't the solution. Because air conditioners are not meant to lose or leak Freon, if yours does, you have a greater problem than a shortage of cool air. Your HVAC technician should be able to help you determine the cause of this problem.
If you're a homeowner, adding freon to an air conditioning unit is a useful skill to acquire, but it won't solve all of your AC problems. It will, however, assist you in addressing at least one small maintenance issue. If you find yourself doing this too frequently or if adding freon doesn't help, you shouldn't keep doing it. There are many other factors that can cause your AC to break down, such as using dirty equipment or not keeping up with larger maintenance tasks.
The use of freon in air conditioners was once common but has been largely replaced by other methods. Early air conditioners used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are now known to be harmful to the ozone layer. As a result, their use has been restricted by various governments around the world. Today, most new air conditioners are designed to operate without any freon or only with very low amounts. Adding liquid freon to an older unit may seem like a quick fix for its cooling problems, but it can also be dangerous. We recommend against doing this practice and instead focus on fixing any other issues that may be causing your unit to fail.