How Often Does a Central Air Conditioner Need Refrigerant?

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Even if every other component of your a/c is in perfect working condition, without the proper level of refrigerant, it can’t produce cool air. And if your a/c unit spends much time running while it’s low on refrigerant, it could suffer potentially expensive damage.

But just how long is refrigerant expected to last in an a/c unit, and what are your options when your refrigerant level is running low?

How Long Does Refrigerant Last?

In most cases, refrigerant in a central a/c unit should last for the life of the system. As it circulates through the closed system, it continues to cool the air just as effectively as it did the day the unit was built. However, if this sealed a/c system develops any leaks, refrigerant will slowly escape, reducing your a/c’s ability to generate cool air.

While it’s possible to “recharge” your a/c system by topping off the refrigerant, without identifying the source of the leak, you could find yourself adding new refrigerant every few months in order to keep your a/c working. Not only is this expensive, but it’s also harmful to the environment. (And for some older a/c units, the type of refrigerant designed for the unit is no longer available for sale.)

Signs Your A/C is Low on Refrigerant

By detecting an a/c leak before much refrigerant has escaped, you’ll avoid extra wear and tear on your unit and make it easier to locate the leak. In most cases, an a/c technician can find the leak by using a simple electronic “sniffer” that detects the escaping refrigerant.

It’s a good idea to have a maintenance technician check your a/c’s refrigerant levels at least once a year to ensure that everything is in good working order. If these levels are a bit lower than they were the last time, this may be the first warning sign of a system leak.

A few common signs of a refrigerant leak include:

  • An inability to get the air down to temperature (e.g. your thermostat is set to 72 but your home is a consistent 75, no matter how often your a/c is cycling on and off)
  • Your a/c is able to produce cold air at night, when it’s cooler, but can’t generate it during the day
  • There is a build-up of frost on your indoor a/c coil

If you notice any of these issues, you’ll want to act quickly before more refrigerant is lost. Call A/C Designs or fill out the brief contact form on our website to set up an appointment with one of our prompt, skilled, and helpful technicians today.

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