Does Refrigerant In Your AC Run Out or Go Bad?

There’s often a misconception about what refrigerant is and how it operates inside your AC unit. 

Refrigerant is what allows your air conditioner to operate and provide a cooled air supply inside your home. Refrigerant isn’t a fuel, but instead, is a chemical compound that moves through the AC unit to facilitate the heat transfer process. 

Refrigerant turns from a liquid to a gas and back again throughout the refrigeration cycle. A fan blows air over the coils, which allows the refrigerant to turn to gas. This results in cool air, which is distributed via the ducts into your living spaces. As it moves back to a liquid form, it absorbs heat from the indoor air. Another blower fan takes in this warm air, and exhausts it outside. This process repeats continuously to ensure the proper conditioning of your inside air. 

Does Refrigerant In Your AC Run Out or Go Bad?

Refrigerants aren’t like gasoline or motor oil. There isn’t a supply that runs out or goes bad over time, needing refilling to top it up. It should be good for a lifetime as long as your AC unit is well maintained. 

However, low refrigerant can be a problem. It can lead to frost buildup around the condenser coils in your outside unit, which prevents the coils from absorbing heat. 

If you experience low refrigerant, it means one of two things. 

1. Your AC unit was undercharged during the installation process 

2. You have a leak within the system. 

A refrigeration leak can occur after extensive wear and tear on the connections, which allows the chemical compounds to escape. A refrigerant leak often shows symptoms such as:

  • Poor cooling performance
  • Excess humidity inside your home
  • Freezing evaporator coils
  • Lack of cold air coming through the vents
  • Hissing sounds from your air conditioner
  • Higher energy bills

If you notice a problem and think it may be a refrigerant leak, call in an HVAC technician quickly to ensure no further damage to your HVAC system. Fixing it early may be the difference between a repair or total replacement. 

Have further questions about your air conditioning system? Give us a call today. 

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