Why Are Refrigerant Levels So Important to Air Conditioning?

Refrigerant is what makes air conditioning possible. It’s a chemical compound (the exact type and amount depends on your air conditioner) which shifts from liquid to gas at a comparatively low temperature and which pulls heat out of the surrounding air as it does so.  Centralized air conditioners work by cycling their refrigerant through a series of valves and coils. The refrigerant is first shifted into a liquid state and placed under a great deal of pressure (bleeding heat into the air outside your home in the process), then enters an evaporator coil where it shifts back to a gas (pulling heat from the air outside the coil). With the air around the system cools, a fan then pushes it into your home.

That process depends on a delicate balance of refrigerant charge, specific to your system. When that balance is upset, it can cause significant problems with your air conditioning. And in the heat of our Portland, OR summers, those are problems you don’t want to have. So why are refrigerant levels so important to air conditioning?

Low Levels

Most refrigerant problems stem from undercharged refrigerant, which can be created by leaks or breaches in the system. When that happens, the air conditioner must work harder to cool the air as well, Frost forms on the evaporator coils, the remaining components come under additional strain and your monthly bills go up. In addition, the likelihood of the system suffering a major breakdown increases as well.

High Levels

Overcharged refrigerant is much less common, but can happen when you don’t trust a qualified professional to service your system. Overcharged refrigerant can damage the compressor, causing the system to shut down unexpectedly and eventually leading to the need to replace the compressor. Overcharging also forces the system to work harder than it should, and often makes the air feel more humid.

To keep refrigerant levels charged properly, contact the experts at Clean Air Act today!

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