Cooling season is here, and across the country people are starting to rev up their air conditioners for the warmest months of the year. Along with all of that air conditioning usage comes a whole slew of questions from customers. What are some signs that my air conditioner needs repairs? When should I schedule maintenance for my system? Do I need to top off my refrigerant? We’re going to be addressing all of your air conditioning questions on this blog throughout the summer, but right now we’d like to focus on one specific topic. Read on to find out more about your air conditioner’s refrigerant.
What Is Refrigerant?
First off, there is no one fluid that is called refrigerant. It’s actually a blanket term that applies to a wide range of heat transfer fluids used in cooling systems. Freon is another term that you’ve likely heard, which refers to a specific type of refrigerant.
How Your AC Uses Refrigerant
An air conditioner typically has two units, one inside and one outside. When the system is operating, the inside unit evaporates refrigerant in order to absorb thermal energy from the air in the ducts. The hot refrigerant gas is then sent down the refrigerant line to the unit outside, where it is condensed back into a liquid. This vents the heat out of the home. So refrigerant is the fluid that allows your air conditioner to cool the home by siphoning heat out of it.
Do You Need to Top Off Your Refrigerant?
Refrigerant is never consumed by residential air conditioning systems, merely recycled back and forth between the two units during operation. The only time you should ever need to have your refrigerant levels topped off is after repairing a leak in the refrigerant line, which may have drained away some of the liquid.