One of the most common causes of air conditioning system failure is a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant facilitates heat transfer. As it flows through an air conditioning system, it will transfer heat from inside of the home to the outside. A leak will result in low refrigerant levels that restricts or prevents the transfer heat.
Too much refrigerant can cause problems as well. Your air conditioning system needs refrigerant to transfer heat. If it’s overcharged, however, it may still fail to cool your home.
What Is Overcharging?
Overcharging is the act of overfilling an air conditioning system with too much refrigerant. Air conditioning systems are designed to hold a limited amount of refrigerant. Most of them are rated for about 3 pounds of refrigerant per ton of cooling capacity. A 2-ton air conditioning system will hold about 6 pounds of refrigerant, whereas a 3-ton air conditioning system will hold about 9 pounds of refrigerant.
An air conditioning system is considered overcharged if it’s been overfilled with refrigerant. Charging is the process of filling an air conditioning system with refrigerant. Overcharging simply means that too much refrigerant was pumped into the air conditioning system.
An amateur or unqualified heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) technician may accidentally pump too much refrigerant into your air conditioning system, in which case your air conditioning system will be overcharged.
The Impact of Overcharging
If your air conditioning system is overcharged, it may struggle to cool your home. Refrigerant is designed to cycle between a gaseous and liquid state. When overcharged, it may fail to cycle properly. Refrigerant may stay in a liquid state, so it will transfer less heat from inside of your home to the outside.
You’ll probably experience higher utility bills during the summer with an overcharged air conditioning system. Overcharging will make your air conditioning system run longer. Since it will transfer heat, your air conditioning system will have to run for a longer period. And the longer it runs, the higher your utility bills will be.
The compressor may fail if your air conditioning system is overcharged. Your air conditioning system is designed to contain refrigerant in a closed, sealed environment. The compressor is part of this environment. If your air conditioning system is overcharged, excess and liquid refrigerant may accumulate inside of the compressor.
To ensure proper cooling – and to protect the compressor from damage – you need to avoid overcharging your air conditioning system.