Refrigerants are responsible for absorbing the heat from your surroundings and cool the area. However, some problems with your Air Conditioner can cause Low Refrigerant Levels that can impact the performance of your HVAC Unit. Be aware that your refrigerant or gas isn’t like your car gas; it doesn’t just run out of your unit but what low levels of refrigerant actually means is that Refrigerant is leaking out somehow and needs to be fixed.
You can identify Low Refrigerant Levels in your AC by judging its cooling performance. A unit with low refrigerant levels will not cool the space properly or it will take an unnecessarily long time to cool your home. This article will go in-depth about the causes and symptoms of Low Refrigerant Levels.
Causes of Low Refrigerant Levels
There can be many causes of low refrigerant levels; some of which can be mutual with other HVAC unit problems. Here are some reasons that can cause Low Refrigerant Levels:
1- Improper Installation:
Flawed Installation can cause Refrigerant leaks leading to Low refrigerant levels. Several nooks and crooks can have misplaced or loose fittings of joints. Air conditioning Service Valve may have loose or broken Rubber Seal which is causing leakage. Also, impaired installation can cause vibration in the compressor and other heavy motors in the unit causing the early wear and tear of the system and leaking joints. Therefore, HVAC unit installation should only be done by quality service providers and technicians like Al Imran Technical Services.
2- Refrigerant Leak:
Refrigerant leakage is one of the major causes of low refrigerant levels. These leaks can occur in the condenser (either in compressor or evaporator coils) and connection points in the AC. These leaks can be because of corrosion of the lines, wear and tear of old units, small holes in Refrigerant cylinders, and other physical damages in the unit.
It is important to fix the leakage as soon as possible otherwise, it will strain the other components of the system such as the compressor and condenser, cause DEWA bills, and unable to provide desired comfort levels.
3- Poor Maintenance:
Regular AC Maintenance is very beneficial for the health of the overall Air Conditioning Unit; it can save the unit from any chances of refrigerant leakage and other faulty components. Otherwise, an unmaintained system can cause strain on the system due to continual usage during the hot weather resulting in dropped refrigerant levels. Keep your system in check with Regular Maintenance and Inspection.
Low refrigerant Levels can be caused by the corrosion of the copper lines. This corrosion is caused by the formic acid that is present in the Indoor Air of your building in small levels which can further perforate a tiny hole in the refrigerant causing the leakage. You can call in our technician to treat the corrosive lines and seal the punctured hole in the refrigerant for the smooth working of the unit.
Symptoms of Low Refrigerant Levels
However, low refrigerant levels cannot be treated at home with some DIY process; it can still be diagnosed by noticing some signs. These Signs and Symptoms can be detected by observing the behavior pattern of your unit. Once you’ve identified these symptoms in your AC unit, you must call in a professional technician to thoroughly check your system and treat the damage. Some of these symptoms are:
1- Low Cooling Capacity:
The first and foremost sign of a low refrigerant level is the lack of cooling in your home. When your refrigerant isn’t adequately filled up, it struggles to cool the air and absorb the heat from your surroundings. It can also happen that you’re unit is taking unusually long to cool the temperature during the daytime but cools down the temperature instantly during the evening.
2- Full Blown Warm Air:
Your AC is meant to cool down the temperature of your room, not increase it. But if somehow, your AC unit is blowing warm air from its vents despite setting your thermostat at a lower temperature, it might be a refrigerant problem and you may need to get it checked by a professional technician.
3- Hiked Up Electricity Bills:
This may not be the first thing to notice while checking for a low refrigerant level but if your electricity bills are unexpectedly spiked up, it may be due to the refrigerant level being low. When your refrigerant isn’t leveled up, it causes the compressor to work harder to achieve the desired temperature resulting in extra consumption of energy and electricity.
4- Frozen Evaporator Coils:
Paradoxically, low refrigerant can cause ice buildup on the evaporator coils. When your AC is low on refrigerant, it doesn’t absorb enough heat which is its primary purpose, and causes ice formation on the evaporator’s coils. This ice formation restricts airflow. Other reasons for restricted airflow can be dirty or clogged air filters and frozen indoor coils.
Learn how to clean air filters of an AC System in our detailed article here
5- Strange Noises:
If you’re hearing some strange noises from your AC vents lately, it is due to leaking refrigerant. If the noise you’re hearing is of bubbling then it is due to refrigerant leaking in liquid form. And if the sounds are more like hissing then your refrigerant is leaking in a gaseous state. If you notice any of this, you must call in an HVAC technician and fix the issue immediately as exposure to bare refrigerant can be harmful to your health as well as to the environment.
Low refrigerant may cause short-cycling of your HVAC unit. Short cycling is when your air conditioning unit turns on and off frequently to attempt to attain the desired temperature. Due to low refrigerant levels, your AC isn’t able to complete its cooling cycle.
7- Humid Environment:
One of the Low Refrigerant Charge Symptoms is increased humidity levels in the environment. Your AC is unable to dehumidify the air due to low refrigerant resulting in soggy and muggy air in your living space.
8- Puddles around your Furnace:
When your refrigerant charge is low, the ice formed on coils eventually starts to thaw causing puddles around your furnaces. It is also caused by low refrigerant levels and needs to be addressed quickly.
Here’s how the fixing process in case of any leak detection:
- Skillful Technicians check the pressure and amount of refrigerant present in your Unit with their Gauges. Their gauge is attached to the condenser unit coils to measure the pressure and charge level of the gas.
- Technicians then evaluate any signs of hissing and bubbling from the refrigerant. If not found, they add a dye to the system to find the location of the punctured hole in the gas.
- Then the gas is expelled safely to prevent it from mixing with the environment.
- After the evacuation of gas, the leak is sealed completely and firmly so it won’t tear out again.
- Technicians now check the sealed leak to inspect whether the leak has been sealed properly or not.
- After assuring the leak sealing, the refrigerant is refilled into the unit adequately and your system is ready to provide you with cooling comfort again.
In conclusion, your AC unit absorbs heat with the help of refrigerant, however, if the refrigerant is leaking, it can cause multiple operating problems where the inhabitants have to compromise on their comfort levels. To save yourself from extensive periods of discomfort, the leak must be diagnosed as early as possible through some obvious signs such as strange noises and ice formation on evaporator coils and treated timely.
If you suspect that your AC has low refrigerant levels, it’s crucial to enlist the services of a qualified HVAC technician at Al Imran. We can locate and repair refrigerant leaks, and properly recharge the refrigerant to ensure efficient and effective cooling. Ignoring low refrigerant levels can lead to more extensive damage and costlier repairs in the long run, so swift action is advisable to restore your AC to optimal functionality.