When an air conditioner stops working properly, homeowners often assume they need to have the coolant "topped off." On the surface, this seems to make sense. Coolant allows your AC to cool, so if it is not cooling, it must need more coolant — right? Not necessarily. Keep reading for a closer look at coolant leaks, coolant refills, and what's really going on when your AC unit stops cooling.
Coolant does not evaporate on its own.
Coolant loss is not a part of the natural process and aging of an air conditioner. In other words, your AC unit won't automatically need a refill when even after several years. AC units only need to have coolant added to their systems when there is a leak. And leaks are not a normal occurrence. They only happen when the refrigerator coil cracks or breaks.
The leak must be repaired before coolant is added.
When your AC stops cooling, it is possible that a coolant leak is to blame. But if this is the case, your AC company can't come to add more coolant to the coil. If they were to do this, the new coolant would leak out, just like the old coolant did. First, they need to repair the crack or damaged area that lead to the leak. Then, once this work is done, they can add more coolant to the system.
There might be something else wrong with your AC unit.
While coolant leaks are not an uncommon cause of AC failure, they are just one of many possible causes of AC trouble. Your air conditioner may have a broken fan motor. It might have a worn electrical connection. Or, there could be something blocking airflow in your ducts. So, before you assume you have a coolant leak, it's wise to have a repair person come take a look, diagnose the problem, and recommend a repair approach.
Coolant leaks have some distinct signs.
You can often recognize a coolant leak before your AC fails completely. AC units with leaks often freeze over. In other words, they become covered in ice or "snow" because the coolant left inside expands too much and super-cools. The AC unit may also short-cycle, or turn on and off in quick succession. If you notice these signs, call an AC repair company sooner rather than later.
Does your AC need its coolant topped off? Maybe — but only after the possible leak is repaired.
Contact air conditioning repair services to learn more.