What Is Refrigerant Recharging?

unit with air conditioning systems

What Is Refrigerant Recharging?

When Old Man Winter sneaks into the Mills River, North Carolina area, and you may not have been using the air conditioning for a while, experts still recommend getting your air conditioning system inspected and cleaned and the refrigerant recharged. That way, come next summer, when the heat returns, your home will be ready to get and stay cool. But what is refrigerant recharging, and what makes it so important?

What is a refrigerant recharge? 

Refrigerant recharging refers to charging or refilling the refrigerant in your home’s air conditioning system. Refrigerant is the gas that becomes liquid as it cools warm air that passes through the HVAC system. 

Refrigerant is necessary for an air conditioning system to provide the cool air we love during the hot summer months. When the refrigerant is low, typically from leaking, your air conditioner can’t cool as it should. Keeping the system running with little or no refrigerant could burn it out, leading to significant costs if repairs are needed. 

How do I know if I need to repair my AC?

You may hear a hissing sound if you have a sizeable refrigerant leak. If the leak is small, you may not hear anything, but the following signs are indicators that your HVAC system may need a refrigerant recharge service: 

  1. Takes a Long Time to Cool: As summer ends, if your HVAC system has been taking a long time to cool your home down, it may need a refrigerant recharge. 
  2. Not Blowing Cool Air

If the air blowing through your vents isn’t as cool as it should be, you may need a refrigerant recharge. However, this can also be a sign of other problems, so calling for professional HVAC service is the best way to determine the issue. 

  1. Frost or Ice on Inside: When the refrigerant is low, what is in the system can get too cold, restricting the airflow and causing a strain on the system. If you notice the copper lines inside the system are frosted over or have what appears to be ice, call a professional HVAC service company. It may be nothing more than a refrigerant recharge that is needed, but they will also inspect the entire system for other possible issues. 
  2. Water Pooling: When the air conditioner freezes, it will eventually thaw out, creating residual condensation that drips and pools around the system’s base. If you notice a puddle of water, call for a professional service to inspect the system. A refrigerant recharge may be the fix, but other issues may be causing this, too. 
  3. Short Cycling: If the air conditioning system has been short-cycling or cutting off/on repeatedly, it could be because it is low on refrigerant. Schedule a service call, and the technician will inspect the system, perform a refrigerant recharge if needed, and see what other issues could be causing this problem.
  4. Higher Electric Bills: Yes, the electric bill is always higher in the summer, but it will get to where it’s a steady amount after the first month. If it keeps climbing every month, it is to your advantage to get a professional HVAC inspection. If they find the refrigerant is low, they can perform a die check to see if there is a leak and recharge the refrigerant if needed. 

Sometimes, the technician won’t find the problem on the first visit, which may require another visit, which is usually included as part of the initial service call charge. They can perform a service that includes adding a dye to the refrigerant, and on their return visit, they can identify any refrigerant pinhole leaks along the pipes. 

Can I recharge my home AC myself?

No – this service must be done by a certified, licensed professional. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations control refrigerant for HVAC systems, and you won’t be able to purchase refrigerant as a homeowner. 

How much does it cost to add refrigerant to a home air conditioner?

The cost can fluctuate, and each HVAC service company has different rates. Some companies charge by the hour, and others have a flat rate for the service. In both cases, the refrigerant is an additional cost. The amount of refrigerant typically changes by the pound. 

What causes a refrigerant leak? 

There are a few standard things that can cause a refrigerant leak:

  • Rubber seals around the service valve leak.
  • Assembly joints on the exterior component leak
  • Service caps loose or missing. 
  • Copper lines become corroded due to formaldehyde exposure.
  • HVAC system vibrating.

Is a refrigerant recharge needed during the winter? 

Whether you’re using the air conditioner or the heater, a professional must recharge the HVAC system with refrigerant for proper operation. Refrigerant is a liquid that converts into gas and then back to liquid when cooling or heating your home. So yes, even during the winter, your system will need the correct refrigerant level to operate efficiently. Low refrigerant can burn the entire system out if you use your system.

Keep Cool, Keep Warm, Stay Comfortable

If you have any concerns that your HVAC system may need a refrigerant recharge, schedule it as soon as possible unless you want to replace it, an expense that most homeowners want to avoid. If you need a refrigerant recharge in Hendersonville, Mills River and Asheville or NC, our team can help. Call us at 828-778-2425 to schedule your service.