Learn the Basics of Refrigerant
Your air conditioner or heat pump rely on HVAC refrigerant to cool your home in the warm Wilmington-area summers. Knowing how refrigerant works will help you keep your system performing efficiently and reliably.
Refrigerant’s Important Job
Refrigerant is a fluid contained in A/Cs and heat pumps. It circulates through the system absorbing heat from indoors and releasing heat outdoors. In a heat pump operating on heating mode, the refrigerant brings heat inside from outdoors.
Refrigerant leaves your outdoor condenser unit as a cold liquid and travels to the indoor evaporator via copper tubes. It passes through the expansion valve and enters the indoor evaporator coil. Here it absorbs heat from the house and turns into a hot gas. This gas flows back outdoors to release the heat it picked up and the refrigerant cycle starts all over.
Testing your refrigerant charge is one thing your technician will do during your annual air conditioner maintenance inspection.
Signs of Refrigerant Problems
Your system doesn’t “use up” HVAC refrigerant, but on rare occasions a leak can occur. Leaks noticeably affect the system’s performance. You’ll feel low airflow from your registers and the air that does come will be increasingly warm. Ice buildup on your copper refrigerant lines is another sign. HVAC refrigerant is toxic, so if you suspect a leak, shut off the system and contact a technician immediately. The leak can be repaired and the refrigerant recharged (refilled).
Some old systems contain R-22 refrigerant, which is no longer used in systems manufactured today. Your technician can still recharge this type of system, but it may be more expensive than recharging a newer model.
Modern A/Cs and heat pumps use R-410A refrigerant, which is more environmentally friendly and increases the system’s energy efficiency. This is one reason to consider upgrading to a new air conditioner.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues — especially HVAC and plumbing issues — so that they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes.