How Often Do Air Conditioners Need Refrigerant Refills?

Jul 05, 2022

Your air conditioner’s freon, otherwise known as refrigerant, is responsible for absorbing heat from your indoor air and transferring it to the outdoors. While you might think refrigerant needs to be topped off occasionally, you shouldn’t ever have to refill it if your air conditioner is running properly. Learn more about why your AC shouldn’t require any refills unless there’s a leak and what to do if you think your refrigerant is low. 

Why You Should Never Need to Refill Your AC’s Refrigerant

One of the most common misconceptions about AC refrigerant is that it depletes like gas or other fuels. Instead of dissipating or being consumed by the system, the refrigerant stays in a constant cycle of evaporation and condensation over the course of an AC’s life. As long as the AC is well-maintained and in good condition, it should never need an air conditioner freon refill. 

Causes of Refrigerant Leaks

While you should never have to refill your AC’s freon if things are working correctly, cracks and other AC damages can sometimes cause freon to leak out of the unit. Typically, a refrigerant leak occurs when a crack or hole forms in the AC’s cooling coils. When these coils are damaged, they can’t effectively transfer heat to your refrigerant, causing the refrigerant to leak from your unit. You might also have a leak if your cooling coils’ seals have worn down.

Another common culprit for an AC refrigerant leak is a damaged or worn-down compressor. Since the compressor is designed to circulate your AC’s refrigerant throughout the system, any damage to it could create a leak.

Signs You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Before you can fix a refrigerant leak, you need to know it’s occurring in the first place. A major sign you have an issue with low AC refrigerant is a bubbling or hissing sound from your AC, as these sounds indicate your refrigerant line has air bubbles. Since low refrigerant levels can make your AC have to stay on longer to cool your home and cause your unit’s cooling capacity to drop, poor AC performance is another symptom you should look for.

How to Solve a Refrigerant Leak

If you notice any of the main signs pointing to low AC freon or refrigerant levels, it’s time to call a professional for an inspection. Once an HVAC professional inspects your unit, they should be able to find the source of the leak and fix it for you. Once the leak is solved, the HVAC technician should refill or “recharge” your unit with the appropriate refrigerant. However, if the leak is severe or your AC is outdated, it could be more cost-effective to replace the system.

What Type of Refrigerant Will I Need to Refill My System?

While freon is a generic term for refrigerant, it’s also a specific brand name for a type of refrigerant that’s only used for older AC systems. Generally, ACs made before 2010 still need Freon, while those manufactured after that date will require a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant. This difference in refrigerant requirement is due to the Environmental Protection Agency banning Freon’s usage in systems made after 2010.

If your AC was made after 2010, it likely needs R-410A or Puron (a brand name for R-410A). While R-410A is very common, some ACs may use other refrigerants, such as R-32, R-454b, or R-466a. Due to the different types of refrigerants, your HVAC technician should know your AC’s manufacturing date and the type of refrigerant it needs before refilling it.

Choose Newcomb and Company for AC Repairs in Raleigh

When you think your AC might be leaking refrigerant, turn to Newcomb and Company for refrigerant leak repairs in Raleigh. Once you reach out to us, our team will arrive quickly with a fully-stocked truck to ensure we can handle the issue as fast as possible. After they find the source of the leak, they can repair the leak and refill any lost refrigerant. They can also replace your unit if the damage is extensive or your system has reached the end of its lifespan.

Learn more about our HVAC repair and replacement services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an AC repair, please contact us.

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