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Does Low Refrigerant Affect AC Performance?

The refrigerant in your air conditioner gets a lot of attention, and it’s almost impossible to discuss air conditioning repair or maintenance without a mention of it. Therefore, it’s natural to wonder how a drop in the levels of this substance can affect your comfort levels at home.

When we hear “Does low refrigerant affect AC performance?” as Humble’s trusted AC repair experts, it’s always a straightforward “yes” from us. We’ll expand on that answer in this article.

What Is an AC Refrigerant?

The AC refrigerant is the compound coursing through your air conditioner’s coils. The type of refrigerant you have inside your air conditioner comes down to the age of your system.  

Air conditioners older than ten years most likely have Freon (R22) as the refrigerant; however, the government phased out R22 in 2020. All modern systems now use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), such as R410A and R134. They are the refrigerants you’re likely to find in your modern air conditioner.

The Role of Refrigerant in Keeping Your House Cool

The refrigerant absorbs heat from your indoor air by transitioning from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid.

It then moves through the copper coils to the outdoor unit, where it cools down and transitions back to a low-pressure gas again and returns cool air into the space. The cycle repeats for as long as the air conditioner stays turned on.

Does low refrigerant affect AC performance if other components are working well? The other parts of your air conditioner help move the refrigerant around and distribute the cool air.

Thus, it’s good to have them in excellent shape. However, without the refrigerant, they will mostly be working in vain. The refrigerant is the only reason your air conditioner can reduce the heat and humidity in any space.

What Happens When Refrigerant Is Low?

When refrigerant is low, your air conditioner will stop working at its optimum capacity. Some of the top signs of low refrigerant include the following:

  • No or inadequate cooling. When your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it can’t absorb enough heat from your home. Even worse, it will end up recycling warm air back into your home.
  • System damage. When the refrigerant is low, vital system parts will work harder than normal, leading to a breakdown. If you spot any signs of refrigerant leaks in your air conditioner, it’s important to seek professional help as fast as possible to avoid costly repairs.
  • Prolonged operation. Without enough refrigerant, your air conditioner will operate on longer cooling cycles as it attempts to cool your home.
  • Higher energy bills. Longer cooling cycles as your system is running means a spike in your bills. A standard cooling cycle is 15 minutes. Thus, you should be worried if your air conditioner runs non-stop for long periods without any significant change in your home’s temperature.

Why Do Refrigerant Levels Become Low?

Refrigerant levels become low due to leaks in the coil system housing the refrigerant. Some of the common causes of these leaks include the following:

  • Impact damage. If an accident or storm damage causes a heavy impact on your air conditioner’s outdoor unit, the coils may crack, causing refrigerant leaks.
  • Standard wear and tear. The seals around your valve stems can wear after some time. Rust in the assembly joint can also cause leaks.
  • Pinhole leak. This type of leak occurs when formic acid forms on your air conditioner’s copper tubing. The acid will erode tiny parts of the tubing, causing leaks. Air conditioner manufacturers are switching to aluminum coils to avoid this problem.

Prevent and Repair Refrigerant Leaks with Crew Heating & Cooling

An air conditioner low on refrigerant is a problem every homeowner in Texas will not want to face. The weather here can be unforgiving in the summer. Therefore, you need to move quickly when you suspect refrigerant leaks.

Apart from improving your comfort, repairing refrigerant leaks and topping off the refrigerant levels can help you avoid unnecessary expenses. At Crew Heating & Cooling, we can repair refrigerant leaks in all air conditioner models. Our technicians can spot the source of the leaks quickly and complete the repairs in one visit.

We will also recommend an AC maintenance schedule to help prevent future leaks and spot potential problems before they become visible. Do you want further discussions on the topic “Does low refrigerant affect AC performance?” Are you interested in scheduling refrigerant leak repairs?

Call the Crew Heating & Cooling team in Humble, TX, today at (832) 402-1681 to book an appointment.

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