Your AC is very important to a comfortable house, especially in the summer, and especially in Charlotte and the Carolinas. Without the air conditioner running as it should, the summer would mean nothing but a hot, humid home. In some cases of an AC system not working efficiently, or just outright failing, it could be a sign your HVAC needs freon.
In some cases, an AC breaking down could be because of the compressor, a motor or another part somewhere in the system. If it’s a refrigerant leak or freon shortage, it’s a definite problem. It’s an issue you can’t DIY. You must contact a qualified technician to fix a refrigerant leakage and work with freon.
Refrigerant is made from a gas called freon. Freon has properties that let it to transform from gas to fluid and back to gas with the functioning of an air conditioner unit’s condenser and evaporator. This cools air that is taken in from the outside. How do you know if your AC needs freon? Here are some of the common, probable answers.
How Does an AC Run Out of Freon?
An AC runs out of freon only if there’s a leak. The line carrying refrigerant through the unit can leak. Freon should never leave a unit. It only changes from gas to liquid and back.
Leaks happen, especially over the years, in older units. Corrosion, storms, bugs, standing water, plain old wear and tear, all this may cause a leak. For instance, formic acid is a corrosive acid. It can eat at copper and cause cracks and pinholes. Bugs – such as ants, bees and wasps – can cause formic acid. Good, up to date preventative maintenance on an HVAC system should stop formic acid, but it is a natural acid, and systems or AC units with years and years behind them could have this issue.
Other common wear and tear issues can be damage, then leaks, from seals or valves. Assembly joints can corrode and leak. None of these issues should happen in a newer unit. With an older unit, along with keeping up on maintenance, keep an eye for corrosion and leaks.
How to Know if an HVAC Needs Freon
- The AC Runs and the House is Too Warm
If you need cool air, but getting warm air coming out of your house’s vents, you might think it’s a problem with the whole AC. If the airflow is fine, but just not the right temperature, it is likely a refrigerant problem rather than a whole system breaking down.
- Frozen Lines, Coils
Even during a 100-degree day, your HVAC can freeze. This happens when an evaporator coil gets too cold. Cold refrigerant backs up around the coil and/or back into the system. The condensing water from the airflow – which is what the AC should be doing – freezes and the problem gets worse. If this may be the issue, don’t ignore it or wait. It can cause more and expensive damage to a system. Call a technician ASAP if you have ice on a refrigerant line or any component of the AC or HVAC.
- Strange Sounds
If you hear hissing or gurgling from your AC, especially from the refrigerant line, it’s a sign of a leak. Some freon leaks are silent. Some may be heard, with hissing or bubbling coming from somewhere in the AC. If you hear this,
call an HVAC technician. You don’t want this problem to become bigger.
- The Temp on the Thermostat isn’t Reached
It’s hot out. You set the thermostat to cool down to a certain temperature. The AC works, sort of, not really, and it’s staying a few degrees or more warmer than what you’ve set. This could be a loss of freon or another issue with the system.
- Water Leaking
If you have ice built up, then it melts, you’ll have water puddling somewhere. It could puddle into or near the furnace. It could be on the floor somewhere near a vent. The frozen coil or line is “fixed” for the moment, but the p
roblem, which may be a freon leak, isn’t fixed.
- Higher Electric Bill
Maybe you’re running the AC more. Maybe it’s running more because the thermostat never reaches the setting, so it’s running just about 24-7. This is using more energy, and less efficiently, and it’s costing you more. If you see a spike in your power bill, it could be a number of factors, with freon or a refrigerant problem being one.
More Reasons for a High Electric Bill
- An aging AC – If your AC is 10 or more years old, your high energy bills are likely the outcome of an old system. Gradually, your air conditioner ends up losing efficiency, which means it needs to work longer and use more power.
- A system that’s too small or too big – If your AC is younger, maybe even recently installed, abnormally high utility bills could be due to a mismatched system. It could be too small or too large for the house, or what you’re expecting it to do. Both situations cause an AC to be inefficient. If it’s too small, it has to run and run and run. If it’s too big for the space, the system will cycle on and off far too often.
- Check the filter – If the AC seems weak, or you get other signs like bad smells or symptoms from people in the house, it could be you need to change the air filters. If it’s been a few months or longer, putting in new filters will improve airflow, cleanliness and efficiency. If you change the filters, and get no improvement, then it could be worth asking about the freon.
At South End Heating and Air we are Charlotte’s affordable AC experts. Call us anytime for a free consult and free estimate. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.