How to Determine if Your AC Needs Freon?

Learn how to determine if your AC needs Freon every year. Discover signs, symptoms, and when to refill AC Freon. Get expert assistance for AC maintenance at Sandium.

Updated on Oct 22, 2023
5 min read
How to Determine if Your AC Needs Freon?

Working air conditioners are a necessity in every Californian house – certainly in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, AC stop working effectively and efficiently some times. There can be many reasons for this – a common one is refrigerant leak. You can ensure your air conditioner does its job smoothly by knowing when to get a refrigerant charge.

Overview of Freon

Freon is the chemical refrigerant used in most air conditioners. It’s a noble gas that can shift between liquid and gas form within the air conditioner. This is done by the combined action of the evaporator and condenser. Freon essentially cools the air that is brought within the air conditioner unit.

The coils within an AC unit are enclosed, which means that freon should never run out. If your AC unit is low on freon, there is a high possibility that there is a leak in the pipes. This can be due to a wide array of reasons. It can be because of rust or general wear and tear within the AC.

You should never attempt to tackle refrigerant leaks on your own. Freon is a highly toxic gas and should only be handled by an AC professional. Keep reading to learn more about the signs of low freon charge.

Lack of Air Conditioner Cooling

Your air conditioner probably has a freon leak if it’s running properly but is unable to bring the indoor temperature to a comfortable level. Freon is responsible for absorbing heat from the air and conditioning it. AC with a refrigerant leak is unable to cool air.

High Energy Bills

An unusual increase in utility bills is a sign that there is something wrong with the air conditioner and it is not working properly. Your AC will need to work harder if it is low on freon to cool your home. This will cause unnecessary wastage of energy. Unfortunately, your home won't get any cooler even with the additional energy consumption. In general, a small increase in utility bills is normal. With that said, you should call a trained technician if you notice a sudden spike.

Warm Air from Vents

You may notice warm air blowing out from the air conditioner. This is a sure-fire sign that there is a refrigerant problem. Freon cools air by changing its state from gas to liquid and back again. Without enough freon an air conditioner loses the ability to cool air. Hence, it starts to blow warm air out.

Ice Build-up in Refrigerant Line

Inspect the air conditioning unit for ice build-up if you suspect a lack of freon in the refrigerant line. The evaporator unit gets too cold when the air conditioner is running low on freon. Consequently, this causes cold refrigerant to flow back in liquid form. Low temperature will result in the moisture to freeze on the refrigerant line. This will result in an apparent ice build-up. Ice build-up is a potentially dangerous problem and one you should not ignore.

Hissing Noises from the Unit

An air conditioner can make several strange noises. Moreover, a hissing sound in particular indicates a shortage of freon. This can be because of a leakage in the pipes, which is made apparent from the hissing noise. You should not delay in calling an HVAC contractor if you hear this sound. 

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