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Why Is Low Refrigerant a Problem for Air Conditioners?

A number of people fallaciously believe that air conditioners consume refrigerant, the same way a car consumes gasoline or motor oil. The perception is compounded by the fact that air conditioning technicians often need to recharge (or raise the levels) of refrigerant in order to address a specific problem. In point of fact, however, refrigerant levels should never drop in an air conditioning system. Problems arise when the refrigerant leaks out of the system, and here in Salt Lake City, that can leave you without your air conditioner right when you need it the most. “Why is low refrigerant a problem for air conditioners?” you ask. We’ve provided a quick breakdown below.

How It’s Supposed to Work

Air conditioning refrigerant can be any one of a number of different chemical mixtures. The precise type and the precise amounts that appear in your air conditioner, depend on the make and model of the system itself. The refrigerant cycles through a closed loop, which firsts places it under a great deal of heat and pressure (compressing it and shifting it into liquid form), then reverting it to gaseous form in a series of evaporator coils. The first part of the equation bleeds heat from it into the outside atmosphere, which the second part pulls heat in from the nearby air. The cooled air can then be blown into your home.

What Happens When There’s a Leak

That process depends on a very specific amount of air conditioner refrigerant. When the refrigerant leaks, the balance of the cycle is thrown off. Frost forms on the evaporator coils and the system has to work a lot harder to do its job. Not only will it make it harder for the air conditioner to do its job – raising your monthly energy bills accordingly – but it increases the risk of a breakdown somewhere else in the system.

If you spot frost on your evaporator coils or another sign of a refrigerant leak, don’t treat it yourself. Call At Your Service to treat the problem properly.

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