Leaking air conditioners will not only cost you a lot of money but can also negatively affect your health. Summer has just begun and you’ve noticed that your air conditioner isn’t working as expected. Warm air from the vent is usually the first sign that something is wrong with your air conditioner. Learning how to check freon in conditioners is one of the basic, but most important troubleshooting processes an owner needs to learn.
Read on to learn how to check freon in air conditioners. Also, is your air conditioner using the old Freon (R-22) refrigerant or the latest R-410A? Knowing this can save you from a lot of problems (and unnecessary expenditure) in the future. If you’re not sure what type of refrigerant your air conditioner uses, get in touch with a local HVAC repair company. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, the most popular is American Home Water and Air. Find out more here.
How Important is Freon To Your Air Conditioner?
Without Freon, your air conditioner is as good as dead. Freon is the refrigerant responsible for absorbing heat. The now cooled air is then pushed back into your room by the air conditioner’s fan.
Note: Unlike car gas that gets depleted and needs to be refilled every once in a while, Freon doesn’t get depleted. Be cautious of technicians who tell you it’s normal for Freon to get depleted. Under perfect conditions, Freon never gets depleted.
Why should I check freon in air conditioners if it never gets depleted?
Even though freon shouldn’t get depleted, there are some cases where it does- This usually happens if you’re air conditioner’s coils are leaking. Not only should you know how to check freon in air conditioners, but also what to do if you find out there are leaks in the refrigerant lines.
How To Check Freon In Air Conditioners
There are some signs you should look into when checking your air conditioner’s freon levels. Remember to be careful. If any of these sound complicated, call your trusted HVAC technician.
Check the fan and look for warm air: The first step is to confirm whether your air conditioner’s fan is running. While you’re at it, place your hand over your air conditioner’s vent to check if the air blown out is cool. Warm air is one of the signs that your freon levels are low. Now don’t jump into conclusions, go through the remaining steps before you decide to top-up.
Frost on refrigerant lines: Next, check your air conditioner’s cooling system for any signs of ice or frost. Freon is at a very low temperature and pressure. If there are any leaks on your refrigerant lines, freon will cool the surrounding air and thus, creating ice blocks. If you’re not careful, your air conditioner can turn into one huge ice block.
Hissing and other weird sounds: Turn on your air conditioner, let it stabilize, and listen for any weird sounds. Pay close attention to the refrigerant lines. If you hear bubbling or hissing sounds, then there is a freon leak.
The soap test: Sometimes, the leak is so small you can barely hear any sound. If this is the case, carry on with the soap test. Make a soapy solution and sprinkle it on the suspicious areas. If there is a leak, you’ll see bubbles (A clear indication that you’re losing some freon).
Electronic detectors: As the name suggests, it involves using special devices to check on your air conditioner’s freon levels (These are what pros technicians use). There others that work like sniffer dogs- They “sniff” the air around your air conditioner’s line and sound an alarm if they detect a leak. There is a freon leak if your air conditioner tests positive for all these signs. Also, your air conditioner’s freon levels likely need to be topped.
We’ll let you in on some of the things the HVAC technician will do:
- First, they evacuate the system- This involves removing all the freon from your air conditioner
- Next, they locate and seal the holes on the refrigerant lines
- They test and see if the holes are sealed- This involves counter-checking your air conditioner all over again
- Refilling your air conditioner with the required amount of freon
Note: Don’t allow the technician to refill your air conditioner without first checking and sealing all freon leaks.
Freon vs. Modern Refrigerants (R-410A) – Which one are you using and why you should care
The majority of air conditioner owners use the term “Freon” to generally refer to the refrigerant in their air conditioners. What they don’t know is that Freon is a brand name for a specific air conditioner refrigerant (R-22). Most of them are usually surprised to find out that Freon was banned back in 2010. Freon was to be completely phased out by the year 2020.
Freon was banned as a desperate move to save Mother Nature (It’s hydrochlorofluorocarbon properties deplete the earth’s ozone layer). After the “fall” of Freon back in 2010, manufacturers were able to come up with other ozone-friendly refrigerants like Puron (R-410A), R-32, and R-134A, among others.
Why you should care about the type of refrigerant your air conditioner is using
When Freon (we’re referring to R-22) was banned in 2010, its production ceased and it’s now barely available in the market (With scarcity, came a significant increase in price). Freon (R-22) is now more expensive than ever. This is also one of the main reasons why you have to learn how to check freon in air conditioners and seal all leaks before it costs you a fortune. Most of the time, a decrease in Freon levels are caused by leaks in your air conditioner’s refrigerant lines (Sealing these lines will save you a lot of money).