“Do you know of anyone who can re-gas my air conditioner?”, “My air conditioners gas is used up!” – It’s a phrase we’ve probably all heard a couple of times, especially during Summer time.
The fact is, if you require your air conditioner re-gassed, it has a refrigerant leak. This same rule applies to air conditioners in motor vehicles. A simple re-gas is a common misconception heard in the HVAC industry.
Here you can read as to why this misconception should be avoided.
First off, if you do not understand the basic principle of any refrigeration cycle, you can read more about it here.
If you have a basic understanding of how the refrigeration cycle works, you will know that it is a closed circuit. A refrigerant leak is a fault in the cycle and is something that should be repaired immediately.
Let’s go through some basics when it comes to refrigerant leaks and re-gassing your air conditioner.
What causes refrigerant leaks?
The most common causes of refrigerant leaks are vibration, poor installations, lack of maintenance and deterioration of the tubing materials,.
Vibration is common when it comes to mechanical equipment. Your air conditioner has a running motor (called a compressor). A running compressor will cause vibration throughout the outdoor unit. As a result of this, a properly installed compressor and outdoor unit should be mounted with the correct rubber mounting pads. If not, your refrigerant connections can loosen themselves or the copper tubing can rub against other parts of the machinery causing them to break.
What happens when my air conditioner loses its refrigerant?
The answer to that is pretty simple.
A compressor running without refrigerant will ultimately fail and burn out. A burned out compressor will be quite costly to replace since the system will be contaminated with acids which will need to be removed using so called “liquid-line and suction-line driers”. These driers will filter out the contamination in the refrigeration cycle and will need to be replaced until the system is contamination free. Alternatively the piping can be flushed with flushing agents to decontaminate them.
How do I know if my air conditioner has a leak?
Obvious signs of refrigerant leaks are oil marks. If you notice oil marks on your indoor or outdoor unit of your air conditioner, consider calling a professional to have a look at it.
If you notice your air conditioner is not cooling or heating as efficiently as it used to, it could mean that it has a leak.
However, other common causes of lost efficiency might be caused by clogged filters or clogged evaporator and condensor coils.
An air conditioner that starts icing up and causing water leaks could also indicate that the refrigerant charge is incorrect or simply, your air conditioner needs a service.
If you suspect that your air conditioner just needs some tender love and care, you can easily try some of the following steps and see if this clears up the issue of lost efficiency:
- Clean the evaporator filters (simply open up the front panel of your indoor unit and remove the filters, wash them in warm water and let dry).
- With the filters removed, inspect the evaporator coil and indoor fan to see whether they are dust free.
- While unit is switched off, use a garden hose and spray clean the coil of the outdoor unit.
How do I prevent refrigeration leaks?
In order to prevent leaks you should ensure your air conditioner is installed correctly as per industry standard. Ensure adequate rubber mountings are installed to reduce the amount of vibration. Use a professional and reliable installer with qualified technicians to ensure the correct installation procedure.
Consider having your air conditioner maintained regularly to avoid total breakdowns.
Avoid services that will tell you “the gas is used up”. Always remember, if your air conditioner or fridge has a leak, ensure the professional repairs the leak before proceeding to charge the system up. Always ensure the technician uses a vacuum pump and makes sure the system has no present leaks anymore.
Simply re-gassing an air conditioner is not a fix until the leak has been located and repaired.
Preventative maintenance is vital in the commercial and industrial HVAC sector as this helps prevent total breakdowns and unnecessary repair costs.
For maintenance agreements and service plans on commercial and industrial air conditioning and refrigeration, send us a message.
An air conditioner will never use its refrigerant up. If it has lost its refrigerant, the leak will need to be located and repaired by a qualified technician. Preventative maintenance and correct installations are key to avoiding refrigerant leaks.