Air Conditioning

How Often Does An AC Unit Need Charging With Refrigerant?

In a nutshell, an AC unit should not require any refrigerant charging over the course of the AC’s life. Nonetheless, the question of how often a typical central unit needs charging is a very popular question among homeowners and business owners concerned about the performance and the life of their ACs.That being said, you should note that some circumstances will necessitate charging.

To understand this assertion better, one needs to first understand the intricate design of the AC unit and how everything in an AC system function. As such, let us delve into the function refrigerants AC in intricate details.

How Refrigerants Work In ACs

First and foremost, you should note that an AC unit is a “sealed system” with regards to the refrigerants. This is to mean that no refrigerant should escape the system whatsoever over the course of the life of the unit. In fact, most of the AC units come with the precise amount of refrigerants the AC needs to properly and efficiently function over its lifetime.

Furthermore, refrigerants are simply heat transfer fluids that absorb heat from your house and dump the heat outside. The refrigerants are never used up and only change from liquids to gases in the process. And since they are designed to be chemically stable while in the system, the process of changing from liquid to gas and back to liquid again should go on without fail for the entire life of the AC.

Due to the sealed system design of AC units and the stable chemical composition of the refrigerants, you should never need to charge your AC.

What Causes The Need For Charging

So, why is AC charging a common service then? When called upon to troubleshoot and repair an AC that is not working or working ineffectively, it is very common for AC technicians to come up with the charging as the main solution.

The main reason you will need Ac charging services is a leaking refrigerant line. As mentioned above, a typical AC system is designed to be a closed system where the refrigerant does not leak outside whatsoever. In case the AC’s refrigerant line has suffered a failure that results in a leak, the unit does not perform as it was designed to due to low levels of refrigerants.

Persistent leaking causes the AC to experience depreciation in cooling output. Over time, the low levels of refrigerants cause the unit to overwork, inducing great pressure to the overall unit as it tries to compensate for the lost cooling capability. Nonetheless, even overworking can only compensate for lost performance for only so long. After some time, the AC will start supplying you with lukewarm air.

It is important to note that when the AC is at risk of system failure or, at the very least components failure. Since an AC is designed to perform its function using a given amount refrigerants, anything less will affect components. For instance, it common for ACs that are experiencing refrigerants leaks to develop frost and ice on the evaporator coil. This forms an insulating barrier between the air and refrigerant, thereby reducing how much heat is drawn from your indoor environment.

As such, when faced with these problems charging your AC become necessary. However, the golden rule to have the leak identified and repaired by a professional HVAC technician. Charging your AC is never enough. In fact, it should only occur after the leaks in the system have been identified and rectified. Otherwise, you will have to charge your AC quite often, which can be an expensive affair.

With this in mind, you should be wary of technicians who come to your premises, conduct troubleshoot the unit and only recommend charging your AC. They are either incompetent or they are out to scam you for a quick buck. Sometimes it is a case of incompetence and dishonesty. Learn more here.

Leak Repair And Charging Vs. AC Replacement

Typically, after troubleshooting your unit and making sure that other problems such as a dirty filter and frozen evaporator coil are the main causes of system failure, the tech should recommend leak identification as the next course of action. The identification process involves using a UV dye, bubbling agent, or electronic detector.

Once the technician identifies the leak(s) they will give you a quote for leak repairs. The repair process should entail removing refrigerants from the system and fixing the leak. The leaks are repaired and tests are done to make sure that the system is in good working order. Thereafter, the AC is charged to the optimal level.

As you can appreciate, the repair process is quite intricate. Furthermore, it involves some dangerous chemicals and therefore, it requires specialized skills and equipment. Therefore, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars for leak repair services. As such, when faced with the prospect of repairing your AC, you should also consider the replacement option.

While replacing an AC due to a simple leak might seem drastic, in cases where the AC unit in question is already old and has to be replaced in the near future (say, in a year’s time), your money is better spent on replacing the old unit. Additionally, if the refrigerant line has many different leaking points, there is a high chance that other leaks will form in the future. This means there is a potential for spending thousands of dollars on leak repairs and charging the AC again. Therefore, it is import to weigh up your best option, and if possible opt for the option that gives long-term value for money.

In case you are not in a position to replace or repair your AC, you can have your AC charged. This will make it possible for the AC to serve you efficiently over the summer months. However, eventually, you will have to decide on whether to repair or to replace. Given that you an AC charge does not handle the underlying problem of the leak, you are guaranteed that the refilled refrigerants will find its way of the refrigerant line.


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