How Important Is Refrigerant Charge

Refrigerant charge

The warmer weather has arrived and as a responsible homeowner you decide to schedule your first HVAC maintenance of the year. All goes well except that your HVAC technician informs you that your refrigerant levels are lower than they should be. Now you are faced with the decision: pay for the refrigerant charge to be corrected now or ride it out (the AC seems to be working fine as is). You are probably more inclined to go with the second option because, how important is a correct refrigerant charge anyway?

How Does Refrigerant Work?

The short answer to that question is, especially important. In order to fully appreciate the refrigerants role in an efficiently run system it is good to understand how it works. Refrigerant is a substance that takes the form of liquid and gas. It travels throughout your system, absorbing the heat of your home while it is in a liquid state. As it cools (with the help of the blower) it turns to a highly pressurized gas that cools the coils. Air is blown over the cooled coils circulating the cooled air into your home.

What is Refrigerant Charge?

Refrigerant charge is another term used to describe the refrigerant levels in your system. An overcharged unit has too much refrigerant. An undercharged unit has too little. Believe it or not there is a range for refrigerant that is universally just right. If your licensed technician finds that the refrigerant numbers are not in that sweet spot when they measure with their gauges, that is not something you can afford to ignore for long.

Running your System with the Wrong Charge

If we are completely honest being a smidge over or undercharged may not yield drastic results on your system, other than the system running beneath it’s Rated EER. Which is why you may have no idea your system is undercharged in the first place. Units can become slightly undercharged over time by tiny releases of refrigerant over time. However, being a little undercharged can also be a sign of a slow leak. When the system is extremely low on charge it is most definitely due to a leak. Either way, the leak can potentially cause your system to experience loss of efficiency, lack of cooling capabilities, freezing of the coils, and leaking oily residue around your unit. Leaks do not repair themselves and eventually all of the refrigerant will drain from the system and it will no longer run. Systems are predominantly overcharged due to improper charging of the refrigerant during installation or past repairs. You may be thinking, “Well an overcharged unit couldn’t be too bad. The more the better!”. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. The natural thought would be that if you have more refrigerant, you get more cool air. However, overcharging the unit has the opposite effect. Too much refrigerant actually makes your system produce warm air while it is in cooling mode, which I am guessing is not what you are looking for when the temperature is at 100 degrees outside.

Contact LA Construction, Heating and Air

In summary, it is important that the perfect balance of refrigerant is maintained in your system. A properly charged system will keep your unit running efficiently while also reducing the risk of further damage. The good news is that refrigerant is created to cycle and not run out over time. So, if your system is properly maintained, by an EPA certified technician, your refrigerant has great chances of lasting your systems entire life span. To make sure your system is properly charged and ready for the warmer weather this year give us a call today! 818-341-3406

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