How Often Do You Need to Add Freon to a Central Air Conditioning Unit?

Never” is the simple answer to this query.

Let’s see why we probably never need to add refrigerant…

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The refrigerant that the manufacturers place initially should be enough to last for the whole of your air conditioner’s useful lifetime. Our AC Repair Mt Pleasant SC location sees it as a sealed system which cycles through the air conditioner in copper coils. It has chemicals that absorb and release heat and circulate in a closely packed loop from your indoor AC unit (evaporator) to the outdoor AC unit (condenser). In other words, in theory, your AC should never lose refrigerant.

However, if you believe that you are low on Freon (R-22 refrigerant), you might need to ask a professional HVAC technician to examine the system.

When to call a technician

You need to call a tech if you experience following:

  • Warm air coming from vents
  • Ice on refrigerant lines
  • Higher-than-normal energy bills
  • A frozen evaporator coil
  • A hissing or bubbling sound coming from the refrigerant lines
Freon or thermostat

Even though all of the signs above indicate you’re low on Freon, the problem may lie elsewhere. There could be a number of reasons why your air conditioner is blowing out hot air. The thermostat is the first place you need to look because sometimes units reset to trigger the electronic elements of the system. Once it’s done, set the thermostat to 85 degrees and wait half an hour, then adjust it to 60 degrees and wait for the unit to kick in.

Air filter

Secondly, you could check out your AC’s air filter. If a filter is overloaded with dust and dirt, it is most likely the culprit, i.e., the cause of the malfunction. Now is probably the time to pop in a fresh filter.

Condenser

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Finally, turn off the air conditioner, disconnect the electrical power, and inspect the condenser. The condenser is the external (outdoor) part of your air conditioning unit. Its cabinet contains a compressor, fan, condenser coil, and some other controls.

Remove the outer caging of your unit; make sure to not stretch or damage any wires. Use a hose and spray out the AC’s dirt from the inside flushing it outwards, being careful to avoid spraying on any electrical component. Spray the aluminum condenser coils with an all-purpose cleaner and let it sit for 15 minutes so that it can get deep into the grime, and then clean any buildup with water and let it dry.

Don’t try to fix it yourself

If, unfortunately, the problem persists, you need to call a professional HVAC technician – there might be a leak!

Remember that your air conditioner’s refrigerant is toxic, i.e., it is poisonous. It can cause serious breathing problems and other complications if your are directly exposed to it. Therefore, do not try to fix things yourself.

If the HVAC technician is certain of Freon leakage, you should make sure that they plug the leakage. Some of them might just refill the unit and charge you for the whole process, which is both expensive, and over the medium- or long-term, unhelpful. Somebody will have to come again to fix the problem.

Steps the technician has to follow:

  • Turn off the system from the source.
  • Locate the leak.
  • Attach the repair kit.
  • Seal the leak.
  • Prepare the system for recharge.
  • Add Freon.
  • Test the system.

Note

Once the leak is located, make sure the technician uses the DV dye. If you have had your air conditioner for twelve or more years and the tech suggests you add a new Freon, give yourself some time to think about it. It could cost you $1000, or even more, depending upon the size of your AC.


Interesting related article: “Cost of repairing HVAC.”