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A Few Facts about Refrigerant: What Makes the AC Cool

work-air-conditionerFurnaces and other heating systems may have a lot of complex mechanical components, but the basic premise of how heat is created is simple to understand: fuel is burned to generate heat. Or, in the case of electric furnaces, electrical resistance generates heat energy. But “cool” is not something that can be produced or generated: it’s not an energy.

While electricity is used to power an air conditioner, this cannot magically produce cool air with the help of a fan alone. It’s refrigerant, a chemical blend you may call Freon (a brand name), that does the job. So if it cannot simply create a cool energy to chill the air, how does refrigerant work? We tell you a few facts homeowners should know about refrigerant in today’s guide.

#1: Refrigerant Does Not Get “Used Up”

The gas in your car is an example of something you expect to get all used up. It’s a fuel, something burned in order to power the vehicle, so you know you’ll have to refill the gas at the pump every so often. Non-electric heating systems also need “refilling,” but natural gas often comes straight into a home to do that work.

Refrigerant, however, is not a fuel. Refrigerant is made to absorb and release heat—but none of the refrigerant should release with it. In other words, refrigerant is not something you should need to refill from time to time.

If your air conditioner does become low on refrigerant, it means something is wrong.

#2: Do I Need More Refrigerant? An Unexpected Answer

When technicians show up for an AC repair, they often hear some variant of this question: “Will you just need to add some Freon?” It very well may be the case that you need more refrigerant, but the answer goes beyond this.

  • Many repairs have nothing to do with refrigerant. Every service call you make should not include a refrigerant refill because, as we’ve mentioned, refrigerant is not something that gets “used up.” There are plenty of components that can break!
  • An experienced technician knows they’ll likely have to do more that refill refrigerant. They will look for the source of the leak and seal this off, so that you don’t have to make this repair in the near future.
  • A refrigerant leak may have caused additional problems within your air conditioner—even damage within the compressor—so you cannot afford to let a leak go on for long.

#3: Your Refrigerant Might Be Harmful to the Environment

In recent years, more and more efforts have been made to get older refrigerants out of the market—those which deplete the ozone layer. The most common of these is R-22. If you’re still holding on to an air conditioner that was originally installed 20 years ago or more, it may use this chemical blend.

For now, when you need new refrigerant, most technicians will still have access to it. However, by 2020, R-22 can no longer be produced or imported into the US. That means that, in time, adding refrigerant to your system (and, hopefully, sealing a leak) will cost more and more, and eventually you will have no access to R-22 whatsoever.

It’s best to upgrade your air conditioner to one that uses environmentally safe R-410A now rather than waiting until it’s an expensive emergency. This is safer for the environment and in ready supply by any technician.

For more information about your air conditioning in Kirtland, NM, contact Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. today.

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