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How Low Refrigerant Levels Affect Air Conditioning

Some problems with a central AC unit are easy to recognize: a banging, misaligned fan, cooling coils which suddenly quit working, or a compressor unexpectedly making loud noises. One problem which can happen behind the scenes but be equally damaging is a low refrigerant level. AC units shouldn’t ever need refrigerant added, so at the very least, low refrigerant levels indicate a leak of some sort in addition to the possibility of secondary problems. We’ll discuss below how this issue can affect an air conditioning system.

3 Effects of Low Refrigerant Levels

There are some routine maintenance tasks such as regularly replacing the AC air filter that homeowners will be able to do. When it comes to dealing with low refrigerant levels, however, specialized knowledge and equipment are required to do the job correctly and safely. If a homeowner thinks that their AC system’s refrigerant level is low, we recommend they contact the local AC experts for HVAC services in Rockland, NY. We can ensure the job is done correctly.

1. Higher Electric Bills

As refrigerant levels drop in a central AC, the cooling coils will operate less efficiently. That’s because less heat will be removed from air over time, and the system will have to work harder to produce the same cooling power.

This will quickly show up in the monthly electric bills. Sure, everyone expects to see electricity costs to go up in the summer, but with all other factors being equal, if a household is suddenly spending more for electricity month after month, the problem could be a low level of refrigerant.

2. Poor Performance

While monthly electricity bills continue to climb, an AC system’s performance will further deteriorate as the refrigerant levels drop. At first, one sign of this can be ice caused by increasing humidity appearing on cooling coils, perhaps even causing the system to freeze up. As time goes by, however, there will be less and less heat exchange between the cooling coils and outside air, and the home’s interior temperature will continue to rise.

3. System Damage

Continuing to run a central AC unit with too little refrigerant will cause damage to other components in the system. For example, refrigerant also cools the compressor’s electric motor and a lack of it can cause the motor to burn out.

The first sign of an overworked compressor may be a circuit breaker tripping. After that, it may have increasing trouble starting until it fails entirely. Detecting and repairing a refrigerant leak can cost up to $1,600 but replacing the compressor could require spending an additional $1,800.

Choosing an AC Repair Service

An AC unit is a significant financial investment, and homeowners don’t want to entrust its care to just any contractor. Yost & Campbell Heating, Cooling & Generators has been in Westchester County for more than 75 years. With that length of service, plus our technicians who each average 25 years of experience, we are the contractor who can take care of any air conditioning need.

Don’t sweat over refrigerant. Contact Yost & Campbell Heating, Cooling & Generators today!

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