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What Role Does Refrigerant Play in My AC?

AC-technician-workingAn incredibly important one, that’s what role it plays! Of course, regular readers of our blog know that there is a lot more information coming below—we just wanted to get that basic answer to the question posed in the title out there right away. Refrigerant plays an integral role in the overall cooling process, which relies on heat transfer, that allows your air conditioner to keep your home comfortable even as temperatures soar outside.

So let’s take a look at precisely what the refrigerant in your AC does for your system—as well as the trouble that may ensue if you have a low refrigerant charge in that system. While we are at it, why not also talk about why you may have a low refrigerant charge to begin with? All that, and more, after this brief message from our—oh, sorry. We got a bit carried away there. Just keep reading, and remember to contact us when you need air conditioning service in Hanford, CA.

Evaporating and Condensing: It’s the Refrigerant Way!

Refrigerant is a heat transfer fluid used in air conditioning systems in order to transfer heat from one place to another. There are a number of different “refrigerants” out there, but refrigerant is used as a catch-all term. The first step in the refrigerant cycle is to evaporate the refrigerant in the evaporator coil.

Refrigerant is used in this process because it is easily able to change its physical state. When evaporated in your indoor coil, the refrigerant draws heat out of the air surrounding and passing over that coil. As the refrigerant heats up, it becomes a vapor. It then heads out to to the outdoor unit, which houses the compressor and the condenser. As the refrigerant condenses, it cools down, becoming a liquid again, and releasing its heat.

This cycle is repeated over and over again, until desired temperatures are met in your home. As you can see, cooling would literally not be possible in the traditional air conditioning system if not for the refrigerant. That is why low refrigerant is such a serious problem.

What Causes Low Refrigerant?

Not normal use and operation, that’s for sure. Refrigerant is not like the gas in your car. It is not consumed as you use your air conditioner. It is more like the oil in your car, being recycled over and over (though it doesn’t need changing). That means that, if you have low refrigerant, your system was either insufficiently charged to begin with, or it has a leak.

Low refrigerant inhibits the cooling process. It also causes your system to work harder than it should have to in order to cool your home, meaning that you’ll be paying more for a lesser performance from your system. Over time, that wear and tear is really going to take a toll on your system. It may start to ice up, further impeding the cooling process, and eventually your compressor could suffer catastrophic damages.

We strive to provide honest answers and solutions to the problems our customers experience while remaining highly competitive in price, and offer the fastest turnaround you can find! Contact Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning if you suspect a refrigerant leak in your system.