Is Your Air Conditioner Low on Refrigerant? Here’s How to Tell

April 4, 2023

When it comes to keeping your air conditioner running in top shape, there are a few things more important than making sure it has the right amount of refrigerant. If your AC is low on refrigerant, it won’t be able to cool your home down efficiently and may even cause damage to the unit itself. Thankfully there are a few ways you can tell if your AC is running low on refrigerant, and we’ll walk you through them here.

1. The AC Takes a Long Time To Cool Off

An air conditioner with low refrigerant levels takes a lot longer to cool your home down. If it seems like your AC is taking ages to reach the desired temperature, there is a good chance that it needs more refrigerant. The problem can be compounded if there are any other existing issues with your unit, such as a damaged or blocked evaporator coil. Call in an experienced technician to check your systems and top off the refrigerant.

2. The Air in Your Home Not Cooling Enough

If your AC is running but your home remains hot, it could be lacking the correct amount of refrigerant. Too little refrigerant has a direct impact on how well and quickly your AC can cool off your home. When your AC unit is low on refrigerant, it will struggle to reach its set temperature and won’t be able to keep your home as cool. This could be because the refrigerant has leaked out or if it was never charged to begin with.

3. Copper Lines Sweating

If there are drops of water forming on the copper lines running between your AC unit and wall, it’s a sign that your air conditioner is low on refrigerant. This generally occurs because the lower temperature of the refrigerant in comparison to room temperature causes condensation to form and drop off the lines. Ensure to check up on the AC unit and get it serviced if there is a problem.

4. Water Pooling Around the Furnace

This is a more obvious sign—if you notice that there’s water pooling around your furnace, it could be due to low refrigerant levels. The evaporator coil inside of the air conditioner needs refrigerant to absorb heat from the air and turn it into condensation. Without refrigerant, this process stops working properly and can cause water to pool around the furnace.

5. Hissing or Bubbling Sounds

If you hear a hissing or bubbling sound coming from your air conditioner, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. This happens when the leak is big enough for the refrigerant to start leaking out of the system and create a pressure difference between the inside and outside of the air conditioner. So if you hear this coming from your air conditioner, it’s important to have it inspected right away.

6. Short Cycling

When your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it will often start to short cycle. This means that it will turn on and off rapidly or run for shorter periods of time than normal. Short cycling can be caused by a variety of issues like low refrigerant levels, a faulty thermostat, or even clogged air filters. When your AC is short-cycling, humidity increases in the home, and your air conditioner won’t cool properly. Therefore, if you notice that your AC is turning on and off quickly or running for shorter amounts of time than normal, it could be because the refrigerant levels are too low and need to be replenished.

7. Increasing Electricity Bills

Electricity bills are also a good indication that your air conditioner may be low on refrigerant. If the costs of keeping your home cool are consistently higher than usual, it could indicate that there is not enough refrigerant in the system and the compressor has to work harder to cool the air. This means that more energy is being used and causes an increase in the cost of electricity.

What Causes Refrigerant Leaks

It’s very rare for an AC system to leak refrigerant. That’s why it’s not uncommon to find air conditioners lasting 10+ years without needing a top-up. However, if you find your AC is leaking refrigerant, it could be due to several factors such as:

  • Aging components or general wear and tear,
  • Refrigerant overcharge
  • Damage from an improper installation or service
  • Compressor burnout
  • Broken lines/valves or incorrect size of the air conditioner for the space
  • Puncture in the refrigerant line
  • Vibrations and shaking during unit installation

Most of the refrigerant leaks happen in the evaporator coils. That’s because temperature changes cause the evaporator coils to expand and contract, thus making them more prone to breaking down.

Get Help From Carney & Son 72 Degrees to Stay Cool

If you suspect your AC is leaking refrigerant, a qualified HVAC technician can identify the issue and any necessary repairs. It’s important not to try to repair the problem yourself as this can cause further damage or harm. At Carney & Son 72 Degrees, we offer efficient and reliable air conditioning services to keep your AC running like new. Our experienced technicians can check the refrigerant levels in your unit, repair any leaks, and replace or recharge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Contact us today so we can discuss your needs.

Carney & Son Air Conditioning and Heating

Carney & Son, 72 Degrees

We are a family Owned & Operated HVAC Services in Charleston, SC, proudly serving the Charleston community for 39 years.

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