What Everyone Needs To Know About HVAC Systems

Does Your Air Conditioner Need To Be Repaired?

by Amelia Martin

Many homeowners are under the assumption that their air conditioner needs to be recharged on a regular basis. This is not the case. Your air conditioner's refrigerant is housed in a closed system, and it should not lose any coolant unless there is a leak. So, as long as you do not have any leaks, your AC unit can go on working for years on end without ever needing to be recharged. However, some air conditioners do spring leaks in the refrigerant coil, and then they will need to be repaired and recharged with coolant. Here are some signs that this might be happening with your air conditioner.

Your home is not getting down to the set temperature.

Your air conditioner came filled with a specific amount of coolant that was fitting for the size of the coil and the size of your home. If it has been leaking refrigerant, it may not be adequately cooling the air that flows past it. Thus, the air that comes out of your vents may seem cool but not as cold as it was in the past. You may have your thermostat set to 76, but your air conditioner can only get the home down to 78 degrees. Alternatively, your air conditioner might be able to cool your home to the thermostat setting on cooler days but not on warmer ones.

Your air conditioner keeps freezing over.

A healthy air conditioner should not have any ice or frost on the coils. The presence of ice or frost indicates that the refrigerant that is inside the coil is expanding too much and getting too cold. As such, it is causing the coil to freeze over. The problem with this is that all that coolness is staying in the coil rather than circulating in your indoor air! If your AC unit is frozen over, try changing the filter since this is another potential cause of the problem. If that does not work, you're probably dealing with a leak.

Your air conditioner is short-cycling.

Short-cycling is when your air conditioner goes on, off, and on again in short succession rather than just kicking on a couple of times per hour. This happens because the AC unit is sensing the coil getting too cold and starting to freeze over — so it turns off. Short-cycling can also indicate an electrical problem with the thermostat, but if it happens in conjunction with one or more of the other issues on this list, it is almost certainly due to a refrigerant leak.

Your air conditioner is using a ton of energy.

Did you pay $80 a month for electricity last summer, but $160 a month this year? Unless you bought a new, big appliance like a pool heater that is using a ton of electricity, your air conditioner is probably at fault. With a refrigerant leak, it either short-cycles or has to run for an extended period of time, both of which consume more energy.

Your air conditioner has colored fluid beneath it. 

The most obvious sign of a refrigerant leak is, of course, colored fluid beneath your air conditioner. The fluid may be greenish or pink, depending on the age of your AC unit and which refrigerant was popular at the time it was made. Do not touch the fluid. You should, however, place a plastic container beneath the dripping area to catch any refrigerant and keep it from contaminating the soil. 

Air conditioners only need to be recharged if they start leaking refrigerant. Keep your eyes out for the signs above, which indicate that a leak is happening. Contact a local air conditioning repair service for more information.