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Refrigerant Charging: How It Works and When to Seek It

Atlanta Heating & Air Solutions Mabelton
How to pick the right HVAC unit for your home

Many air conditioning problems stem from low refrigerant. If your air conditioning system isn’t cooling your home like it used to, it could be low on refrigerant. Low refrigerant levels means that it won’t be able to transfer a sufficient amount of heat out of your home, in which case your air conditioning system may struggle to cool your home. Fortunately, refrigerant charging may fix this problem while restoring your air conditioning system’s cooling power.

What Is Refrigerant Charging?

Refrigerant charging is a service in which a heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) technician injects refrigerant into your air conditioning system. The purpose of refrigerant charging is to bring your air conditioning system’s refrigerant back to normal levels.

Air conditioning systems are designed to accommodate a specific amount of refrigerant. For most air conditioning systems, 2 to 4 pounds of refrigerant is used per ton of cooling power. If you have a 3-ton air conditioning system, for instance, it should accommodate about 6 to 12 pounds of refrigerant.

During a refrigerant charging service, an HVAC technician will pump new refrigerant into your air conditioning system. The HVAC technician will also monitor the refrigerant levels.

When to Seek Refrigerant Charging

You should seek refrigerant charging if your air conditioning system is low on refrigerant. Refrigerant operates in a closed environment. It will travel between your system’s evaporator coil and condenser coil to release heat. If there’s a leak somewhere, though, the refrigerant may escape.

If your air conditioning system is low on refrigerant, you may notice any number of different problems. Low refrigerant can cause ice to develop on the coils. When there’s still some refrigerant inside of the coils – but not enough refrigerant to absorb a sufficient amount of heat –  the coils may develop ice. Alternatively, low refrigerant can simply manifest as poor cooling power. Your air conditioning system may fail to cool your home if it’s low on refrigerant.

Keep in mind that refrigerant charging isn’t something you can do yourself. Refrigerant isn’t sold to consumers.  As explained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s only sold to certified technicians. More importantly, perhaps, only HVAC technicians know how to safely perform a refrigerant charging service. Using diagnostic tools, they can add the correct amount of refrigerant to your air conditioning system.

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