Missing refrigerant or coolant often happens when a homeowner realizes the temperature inside their home always feels warm, regardless of the thermostat setting. Sound familiar? Aside from the inconvenience of not having the AC working, what you’re describing isn’t all that uncommon.
Discovering a Refrigerant Leak
It’s best to call a licensed refrigeration company to have a look, but there are a few things you can check beforehand.
A central AC unit typically is a split-system, meaning that the condenser unit with the compressor and fan sits outside and the evaporator inside the house near the furnace blower. When you discover your home is warmer than usual, take a walk out to the condenser unit and look for a buildup of ice on or near the copper Freon lines coming from the compressor that leads into the house.
If you can see ice anywhere, that’s a sure sign of an AC leak. The leak might only be a loose fitting or some other minor cause. The result of the leak means that the AC refrigerant leaked out of the system, and caused the cooling issue you’re experiencing. (continue below)
Symptoms of Low Coolant in Your AC
Here are the most common signs:
- An annoying symptom is that your home takes forever to cool down. The compressor in your system works double-time to bring the temperature down, but likely can’t. Instead, internal temps keep rising along with your electric bill.
- As the AC works harder than ever, the stark reality is that your thermostat temperature never gets satisfied, so the unit keeps running and running.
- If your internal vents blow lukewarm or warm air, it’s another sure sign that your AC is having issues and needs attention very soon.
- When your electric bill soars higher than ever, your AC continues to try and cool your home, but with low Freon, it’s hopeless, and it costs you money needlessly.
- Under normal circumstances, visible frost on the evaporator is a good sign, but if ice builds up anywhere, that’s a bad sign, and it’s time to call a technician.
- Water at or around the furnace should never be there. A condensate drain that’s clogged causes this, and water leaks onto the floor or into the furnace.
- A troubling sign of low AC coolant is a hissing sound that means your sealed system needs service very soon. That sound tells us that Freon is leaking out of your system at a high rate, and it won’t be long until it’s empty.
Is Your AC Running Short Cycles?
Keep a close eye out for another symptom called short cycling. Your AC needs plenty of fresh air for regular operation. Any lack of clean air due to clogged filters may cause the compressor to overheat and shut down until it cools off. Once it cools down enough, it tries to restart only to shut down once more due to overheating.
Causes of Short Cycling
We already know about an AC leak and clogged filters, but there are more reasons for short cycling.
An over-charged AC system that short cycles can mask the real problem of a malfunctioning TEV or thermostatic expansion valve. The valve controls the release of high-pressure AC refrigerant into the evaporator as it gets released into the low-pressure side of the evaporator. That process causes the refrigerant to expand rapidly and evaporate, thereby creating the frost pattern on the evaporator coil, creating the cooling effect.
A less common cause is a bad AC control board or relay that can result in a rapid on-off cycling problem. Burnt contacts, weak springs, and bad coils are sometimes at fault, too.
Safety switches on some compressors monitor pressure, and their high-pressure cutoff switch will shut down the compressor any time at the preset level.
Call an Experienced Professional if Your System is Malfunctioning
Do you have an extremely old system? Are you seeing or hearing things that weren’t there before? If you suspect that the system is not working properly, you should call a professional as soon as possible.
A few signs that the system is in trouble include abnormal noises or smells, an extremely cold home, expensive bills, and frequent shutoffs. Regardless of the concern, an experienced professional can solve the problem and perform the necessary repairs before an emergency occurs.
Prevention and AC Tune-up costs are much more reasonable than having a costly repair later. Whether you live in Clarksville, TN or somewhere close by, the professionals at DOC Heating and Cooling are ready to help. The highly-trained technicians are available 24/7 for emergency calls and for regular maintenance to help keep your heating & cooling system running smoothly.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
Whether you live in Clarksville, TN or somewhere close by we are ready to help. Our highly trained technicians are available 24/7 to keep your heating & cooling system running smoothly.