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Problems Caused by Low Refrigerant in Your Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner was designed to hold a specific amount of refrigerant to enable the system to work properly. Unlike gasoline in a car, your air conditioner’s refrigerant doesn’t dissipate with use; rather, the level stays constant, so there is no refilling of your refrigerant – unless you develop a leak.

A refrigerant leak isn’t like a water leak: you most likely won’t see it, but there are specific problems that can develop with your air conditioning when the refrigerant runs low.

Warm Air

The refrigerant in your air conditioner helps remove the indoor heat. It does this by changing from a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid. When the refrigerant level becomes lower than needed for your system, the refrigerant can no longer work properly, impairing the heating and cooling process. One result of this can be an inability for your air conditioner to cool the air effectively.

Compressor Problems

The compressor pressurizes the cool liquid refrigerant into a hot, high-pressure gas. When the refrigerant is low, the compressor has to work harder to achieve this. Overworking the compressor for a period of time can lead to overheating and a potential break down.


Low refrigerant can cause the coils to stay too hot in one place, too cold in another. When hot air meets cold air, condensation develops. Normally, this extra condensation drains from your system through the condensate tray and pipe; but if part of the coil is too cold, this condensation freezes on the coil instead of exiting the system.

AC Won’t Turn On

Some air conditioners have safety switches installed that send a signal to keep your air conditioner off if the refrigerant level goes too low. If your air conditioner won’t turn on and is equipped with this type of safety switch, call your HVAC technician to inspect the problem.

Get Help for a Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant leaks do not go away and, left unrepaired, will most likely become worse. They are also not easy to find and require special training to diagnose and repair. As such, fixing the refrigerant on your air conditioner is not something you should do on your own.

Since 1980, we have been helping property owners with their air conditioning systems in Salt Lake City. Don’t let low refrigerant blossom into a much bigger problem – call At Your Service Plumbing, Heating & Air and schedule an appointment today!

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