One of the most important parts of your air conditioning unit is its refrigerant lines. The refrigerant lines connect the outdoor unit to the evaporator coil, which pumps refrigerant past a blower fan and through your home’s vents. This process produces the wonderfully cooled air that alleviates the discomfort of stuffy summer days, but what happens when your unit is running low on refrigerant? Many air conditioners use freon as a refrigerant because it is non-combustible and generally safe. Freon doesn’t require replacement when the unit is functioning properly, but mechanical issues and leaks can cause it to run low. Read on to learn how to tell if freon is low — and how you can replenish it.
It Takes Much Longer Than It Should to Cool Off Your Home
Most modern air conditioners are designed to cool a single room within the span of its 15 to 20 minute cycle. The same unit should be able to cool an entire four-bedroom house by ten degrees Fahrenheit within three hours. There are many factors that impact these numbers, though, including the age, condition, and energy efficiency of your unit. Still, one of the most common symptoms of low freon in central air conditioners is a longer-than-usual cooling time. If you notice that your unit is taking a particularly long time to cool down your home, this is one of the telltale signs that your freon may need to be replenished.
Your Utility Bills Are Higher Than Usual
Yet another one of the most common symptoms of low freon is a sudden increase in the sum of your utility bills. Have you noticed that your electric bill has suddenly spiked? Is it considerably higher than it was the same time a year ago? If so, these are indicators of low freon levels. When your air conditioner unit runs low on freon, it is forced to work much harder to cool your home, and its cycles will last much longer, too. Both factors will increase the level of power that your unit uses, which in turn will massively increase the energy bill you see.
The Air Coming Out of Your Vents Isn’t Cold
On hot summer days when you crave cool air, anything less can seem like torture. It’s not uncommon, though, for vents to blow out air that isn’t cold if the unit is running low on freon. This is one of the most troublesome symptoms of low freon in central air conditioners. If you notice that your vents are expelling lukewarm or hot air, you should first use a thermometer to measure the exact temperature of the air. If it is indeed warmer than it should be, you need to enlist help from an HVAC professional to determine whether this is one of the symptoms of low freon.
Ice Has Started to Build Up on Your Refrigerant Line
Sometimes, symptoms of low freon can be visually identified. This is the case with ice buildup that may appear on your refrigerant lines. If you do indeed see ice accumulating on your unit’s copper lines, this is typically an indication that freon is low or entirely depleted.