Refrigerant is a critical component of your HVAC unit. Without the proper levels of refrigerant, your unit will experience major problems. Replacing the refrigerant will not fix the problem. In order to repair the issue, you must fix the leak first. Then, the refrigerant needs replacement.

If you’re experiencing problems with your HVAC unit, it’s best to contact a local HVAC specialist, like J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing in Jacksonville, Florida, to determine the problem and make repairs. However, knowing what symptoms to look for can be helpful when scheduling your service call.

What is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a substance in your HVAC unit that absorbs heat in order to cool the air moving through the unit. Without refrigerant, the compressor and evaporator coils freeze up and air can’t pass through. Also, without refrigerant the air cannot be cooled, meaning your system won’t do its job right.

When your unit has a leak, refrigerant seeps out, and your HVAC unit stops cooling the air. This is an issue that must be repaired and will not get better on its own. In fact, addressing the issue quickly can help avoid other damage to your unit.

R-22 Phase Out

R-22 or Freon is a refrigerant used in most AC units prior to 2010. That year, a new regulation required that new AC units could not be manufactured or installed with R-22. The regulation also required R-22 to be phased out by the end of 2019. Currently, the supply of R-22 is limited making it very expensive to purchase.

If you have a unit that was manufactured prior to 2010 and requires replacement refrigerant due to a leak, your best option is to purchase and install a new HVAC system. Not only will a new HVAC system use an approved refrigerant, but newer systems are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

In the long run, a new HVAC unit will save money on costly repairs and energy use. Plus, after this year, you will not be able to refill your unit’s R-22 refrigerant and your only option will be a new unit.

Five Signs Your Unit is Leaking Refrigerant

1 – Your Home Isn’t Cool

The biggest sign that your HVAC unit has an issue is when your home is no longer at the temperature you desire. During warm weather when your AC unit is running but not cooling your home, it’s a sign that your unit is leaking refrigerant.

Remember, the primary purpose of refrigerant is to create cool air in your HVAC unit. If the system has a leak and can’t hold the refrigerant, the air cannot be cooled. In this case, you must work with a professional HVAC technician to repair the leak before your unit will be able to produce cool air again.

2 – Evaporator Coils are Frozen

Any sign of freezing in your HVAC unit is a sign of a problem. However, frozen evaporator coils are a huge red flag that your system is leaking refrigerant. If the refrigerant isn’t working in concert with the evaporator coils, your system will freeze blocking air from moving freely through the system.

Other causes, like dirty coils or a blocked air filter, may lead to frozen evaporator coils. However, one of the most common signs of a refrigerant leak is frozen evaporator coils. In almost every case, low refrigerant levels are a result of a leak.

3 – Warm Air Coming from Vents

If your air conditioning unit is running but the air exiting the vents is warm, it’s a sign that your unit is leaking refrigerant. This is also why your home isn’t feeling cool. Without refrigerant in your HVAC unit, the air cannot be cooled and warm air will flow through your system.

If you feel warm air coming out of your vents when the AC unit is running, turn your unit off immediately. Continuing to run a unit without refrigerant can lead to further damage that may require costly repairs.

4 – Increased Energy Bills

The average home’s HVAC system accounts for around 50% of total home energy use. If you notice an increase in your home’s energy bill, it’s likely a result of a problem with your HVAC system.

If your HVAC unit is experiencing leaking refrigerant, it will run constantly to try and reach the temperature setting on your thermostat. However, because it can’t produce cool air, it will only lead to higher energy bills, not cooler temperatures.

5 – Abnormal Sounds in Your HVAC Unit

Your HVAC unit should not make weird noises. If loud, crackling, bubbling or banging noises start to occur, that’s a sign of a problem. Any time you hear abnormal sounds coming from your HVAC unit, turn your unit off immediately.

If you continue to run your unit, you risk causing more damage. Also, if leaking refrigerant is the problem, your unit won’t produce cool air until the issue is fixed. There’s no reason to keep your unit on at that point.

Don’t Wait for Repairs

Once you suspect your HVAC unit is leaking refrigerant, turn it off and call to schedule repairs. First, the leak must be fixed, then the refrigerant can be replaced. Only an experienced and qualified HVAC technician should repair leaking refrigerant.

At J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing in Jacksonville, Florida, we have the knowledge and expertise to properly diagnose and repair leaking refrigerant issues. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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