This Common Air Conditioning Repair Will Only Get More Expensive Over Time
A refrigerant leak is one of the most common problems with AC units that will require professional repair services. Refrigerant is an essential component of any AC unit and works to absorb and release heat so that your home can stay cool. In 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the import or production of refrigerant R22, which has long been the standard in heating and cooling. Ultimately, this means that it will get increasingly more expensive to replace R22 on older AC units as the refrigerant supply continues to diminish. Learn more about what this means for your HVAC system and what options you have for repairs.
R22 refrigerant is also commonly known as freon and is used in both heat pumps and air conditioners. We now know that R22 is harmful to the ozone, which is why the EPA banned all imports and production. However, if you have an AC that was manufactured before 2020, there is a good chance that it still operates using R22. If you experience a refrigerant leak, you will have to purchase R22 that has been stockpiled or recycled.
Since R22 is now in short supply, the price has skyrocketed. Depending on the size of your AC and how much freon you need, a recharge could end up costing you over a thousand dollars. If you aren’t sure what type of refrigerant your AC uses, you can consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
If you have an AC unit that uses R22, you don’t have to stop using it or replace it right away. The EPA is trying to gradually phase out R22, so homeowners can make the switch to more eco-friendly options when the time is right. Officially, R22 will be completely banned by 2030. Unfortunately, there is no way to use new refrigerants in equipment that was originally meant for R22.
Most newer AC units rely on the refrigerant R410-A, which will still absorb heat and help keep your home cool without harming the environment. However, as of 2023, industry standards have once again been raised and R-454B or Advanced Puron is the latest advancement. It is designed to help reduce the hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). The long-term goal is to reduce HFCs by 80% over 30 years.
AC Repair Vs. Replace
Any AC unit that uses R22 can still be repaired and maintained by a licensed professional who has been taught how to safely handle and dispose of dangerous chemicals. If you want to lessen the environmental impact of your AC, be sure to regularly change the air filters and schedule regular maintenance.
Again, if you are experiencing a refrigerant leak, repairs and a recharge are possible, but it may be time to consider replacing your AC. There is a good chance that the unit has reached the end of its lifespan and recharging the AC may be a bad investment. You will probably be better off purchasing a new unit that is more efficient and environmentally-friendly. Today’s new units are incredibly efficient, which means that you will save money on monthly utility bills while also supporting the environment and enjoying a more comfortable home.
Refrigerant leaks occur when there are tiny holes and cracks in the AC unit. A leak is bad news for the environment and is also dangerous to humans, which is why refrigerant is only handled by certified experts. Prolonged exposure to refrigerants can result in refrigerant poisoning. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, coughing, and eyes, ears, and throat irritation.
Causes of Refrigerant Leaks
- Wear and tear. It is natural for joints and components to weaken or malfunction over time. Rubber seals and other fittings can also deteriorate and cause leaks. Regular maintenance will help to extend the life of your AC unit, but it won’t last forever.
- VOCs. It is common for Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs to be present in the air. Things like glue and paint release VOCs, which then make their way into your AC unit where they erode the copper tubing in the coils causing pinhole leaks.
- Vibrations. If the seals on the outdoor portion of the AC unit weren’t properly installed, this can cause the compressor motor to create strong vibrations, which will weaken the lines and lead to leaks.
- Damage. Anything from a fallen tree branch to a lawn mower can cause physical damage to your AC. You might want to consider building a wall around the unit or placing it higher off the ground.
Signs of a Refrigerant Leak
If you are worried you have a leak, here are some things to look out for:
- Your home isn’t as cool as it should be. If your AC is running on less refrigerant than it requires, performance will naturally lag behind and your home will be warmer and more humid. You may also notice a spike in your utility bills as the AC works harder to cool the space.
- Longer cooling cycles. If it is taking longer than usual for the AC to cool your home to the desired temperature, it is time to call in the professionals.
- Frozen evaporator coils. With low refrigerant, the coils aren’t able to absorb the heat and the condensation will actually freeze.
- Strange odors. Refrigerants will commonly have a sweet smell or an odor similar to chloroform. If you encounter these smells or any other strange odors or sounds coming from your AC, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals.
Home AC Refrigerant
At Comfort Caddies, our licensed and certified professionals can help diagnose any problems and make the necessary repairs. We will safely handle any leaks and recharge your AC so that you can enjoy optimal performance. We can even help you decide whether it is time to replace your AC with a more environmentally-friendly model and complete the installation process.
Call Comfort Caddies today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how you can more effectively and efficiently heat and cool your home throughout the year.
As you research HVAC systems and air conditioners, you will keep seeing the term SEER rating pop up. This is an important term that you should become more familiar with. Keep reading to get a full understanding of why SEER came about, what it means, and why it is important.