Have you ever heard an HVAC Tech say they’re going to “gas up your A/C” or “top it off with Freon”? Most homeowners know that refrigerant, Freon (R22) or Puron (R410A), plays a vital role in cooling their homes. So when a Tech says they’re low on refrigerant - they pull out their wallets way to easily.
How often should your air conditioner need to be refilled with refrigerant?
Your air conditioner does not “use” refrigerant like a car uses gas. The refrigerant flows through a sealed loop of copper throughout the system. So, you should never have to add refrigerant - unless there is a leak. If a leak is not repaired, you will eventually find yourself in the same uncomfortable and expensive situation.
If refrigerant is added to your air conditioner, the Tech should take the time to explain that there is a leak in the system and discuss your options:
Option 1: Recharging your air conditioner without locating/repairing the leak. Since locating and repairing a leak can be an expensive, we may not suggest the leak search in certain situations. If you are a new customer and we have no history of adding refrigerant, we can assume that it may not have been charged properly by a previous service provider. If you have plans to replace unit before the next cooling season, we wouldn’t recommend investing more money into the old equipment.
Option 2: Locate and repair the leak. A Technician may use an electronic detector, a bubbling agent, or other methods to determine the source of the leak. Once it is found, they will need to repair or replace the leaking component. Once completed, refrigerant will be added back to the system and tested for correct operation.
Beware of an HVAC Technician that says you need new refrigerant on a regular basis or on a free routine maintenance visit when your system has been running and cooling properly. You may also want to reconsider your choice of contractor if they are quick to charge your system without discussing the possible leak.