Why Your Refrigerant Doesn't Run Out
Why Your Refrigerant Doesn't Run Out

August 24, 2015


You have likely heard the word “refrigerant” used in relation to your air conditioner, and for good reason: without it, you can’t condition your air. However, this chemical is used differently in your air conditioner than gasoline is used in a car. In other words, refrigerant isn’t consumed by your air conditioning system, which is why, if you are told your refrigerant is low, there’s a problem. So how does the refrigerant in your system work? Let’s take a look.

Facilitating Heat Transfer

The key to air conditioning isn’t generating cool air, it’s moving the heat from your indoors to the outdoors; it is the job of refrigerant to facilitate this process. Refrigerant can do this because it changes states very easily depending on temperature; additionally, it functions differently depending on its state. For instance, as a cool gas, it absorbs thermal energy; as a hot liquid or gas, it releases heat. These capabilities make refrigerant the ideal chemical for cooling your home.

Why You Would Need a Recharge

If your air conditioner needs a recharge, it has lost refrigerant, most likely due to a leak. The only other way you will encounter a situation where you have low refrigerant is if, upon initial installation, the system was not filled with the right amount of refrigerant. You will never need to recharge refrigerant because your air conditioner has consumed it because it doesn’t work that way. Refrigerant is constantly recirculated around your system, changing states to release heat or absorb heat as needed; it doesn’t fuel or power your air conditioning system.

How Do I Know If I Need a Recharge?

The most obvious sign that the refrigerant level in your AC is off is when you feel tepid or warm air blowing through your vents. Low refrigerant levels create an imbalance in the heat release/cooling process, disabling your system from properly cooling. A second common sign is ice development on your evaporator coils. Scraping the ice off doesn’t fix the problem; an expert will need to find and repair the leak.

If you suspect you may have a refrigerant issue on your hands, call the experts at Bronco Plumbing Heating and Air. We’ll make sure your AC in Sacramento, CA gets back on track with expert repair!