What is Air Conditioning Refrigerant and Why is it Important
Air conditioning refrigerant is the main reason your air conditioning system works. Besides the mechanical components, refrigerant is the most important element of a cooling system. Even if all the motors, fans and coils are working properly, your AC won’t blow out the cool air that you desire in Southern Texas if it doesn’t have refrigerant.
Tex-Perts Cooling & Heating out of San Antonio aims to educate each of our clients about their air conditioning system. We want you to understand what’s going on when we tell you there’s a problem and explain how we’re going to fix it! Understanding what refrigerant its and how we handle it is a big part of that.
Refrigerant, also called coolant, is housed in the air conditioner’s coils, which are made of copper. It can be found in both liquid and gas states. To cool the air in your home, the refrigerant absorbs hot air and slowly changes from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. When this transition is finished, the electrical parts of the system move the refrigerant out of the coil, and then a fan blows the hot air out of the system.
Hot air is turned into exhaust and moved to the exterior. Meanwhile, the refrigerant cools back down and returns to its gas state. A different fan – this one located inside your home or business – is responsible for blowing air over the cooled coils and then circulating it throughout the structure. This completes the cycle.
Hot air is perpetually being pulled out of your home while cooler air is being pumped back in. You can see that refrigerant plays a role in every step of the cooling process. That’s why issues with low coolant or a coolant leak within your air conditioner can be a very big deal.
There are a few ways to tell if your AC is low on coolant:
It’s blowing hot air
A myriad of things can cause this, but with summer coming, you’ll definitely want to know why your system isn’t working properly! An AC unit needs refrigerant to cool, so that’s always a good place to start looking!
Ice has accumulated on the refrigerant line
Low refrigerant means that there will be lower pressure throughout your system. This will eventually make the evaporator coil freeze up, which leads to the refrigerant line to freeze as well.
Your AC is making a hissing or bubbling sound
This is a result of the high pressure in the lines being let out slowly, much like a balloon with a small hole. It isn’t a normal sound for your air conditioner to make, so you’ll definitely be able to hear it.
If you notice any of these signs, go ahead and call in a pro like Tex-Perts Cooling & Heating. The first two could be caused by something other than low coolant, but you’ll still want to have these issues checked out! Refrigerant doesn’t get used up like the oil in your car, so a leak means that you will definitely need to have the leak repaired and have the coolant replaced.
For a long time, the standard refrigerant used in most AC units was R-22; however, it is now thought to be environmentally unfriendly because of its high chlorine levels. R-22 is gradually being replaced with R-410A, which is chlorine free and, therefore, better for the ozone. It is also the choice coolant for high efficiency systems, which is exactly the kind of system Tex-Perts Cooling & Heating will install for you if your air conditioner needs to be replaced.
The only drawback to using a refrigerant blend like R-410A is that it is more expensive to manufacture. However, as more and more people switch over their old systems, the cost will inevitably go down.
Not only do you need to understand what refrigerant is and how it works, but you should also be aware of how potentially dangerous it is. We say this to remind you that, when in doubt, it’s probably best to hire a professional to work on your commercial or residential air conditioner. We know how to handle all types of coolant, such as the following:
- Older refrigerants thought to damage the ozone layer
- Refrigerants with low boiling points that can give severely irritate your skin and even give you frostbite
- Refrigerants with high boiling points that also irritate the skin and cause respiratory issues
Properly handling and disposing of these refrigerants is part of our job, something we are highly trained to do, so that you don’t have to!