Refrigerant is one of those air conditioning components that has a lot of misconceptions surrounding it.
For one thing, refrigerant is often known by the term “Freon™,” which is actually a trademarked name that may not describe the type of refrigerant already in your system. But some misconceptions could actually cost you, like the idea that a system needs to be recharged with refrigerant each year, which is first on our list of things we think customers should know about refrigerant.
It won’t leave your system naturally
Many people think that an air conditioning system needs to be “recharged” from time to time with refrigerant, but this shouldn’t be the case. If an air conditioner is losing refrigerant, there is something wrong with the system that should be fixed. Refrigerant is an important part of the heat exchange process, which is why an air conditioner is designed so that it won’t vacate the system for the whole life of the system. If you have a technician who insists on refilling refrigerant from time to time without making repairs, it may be time to get a second opinion.
Refrigerant helps to move heat
Want to know how your air conditioner makes cool air? It actually doesn’t; it removes heat! Refrigerant moves throughout your system. As it moves to the indoor evaporator coil of your air conditioner, warm air from the home moves past the coil. Refrigerant evaporates (turns to gas) and is able to absorb heat. Outside, at the condenser coil, refrigerant turns to a liquid and releases heat. This process continues over and over again.
Older refrigerants are being phased out
If your system is a couple of decades old, it likely uses R-22, a refrigerant found to contribute to ozone depletion, and it is currently being phased out by the US government. If your system uses this refrigerant, it might be time for an upgrade. It can be costly to track down this refrigerant when you need it, and it’s likely a system that doesn’t operate efficiently anyway.