How Does Air Conditioning Refrigerant Work?

Ice-On-ACMost forms of air conditioning rely on refrigerant to do their job: a specialized chemical present in specific amounts in your system. (The precise type and amount depends on the make and model of your air conditioner.) A lot of people assume that air conditioners consume refrigerant like a care consumes gasoline, but that’s not the case. Refrigerant theoretically is supposed to last well past the lifespan of the system,  but unfortunately, leaks are common. In order to understand why that’s a problem, you need to understand how air conditioning refrigerant works to keep your home cool.

An Endless Cycle

Refrigerant is defined by achieving gaseous state at a very low temperature, and the way it can pull heat form the nearby air when it does so. It cycles in an endless loop through your air conditioning system. It starts in a gaseous form before being subjected to a great deal of pressure. The temperature is bled off of it, releasing heat through the outdoor portion of your air conditioner and shifting the refrigerant form a gas to a liquid.

The pressurized liquid then passes through a valve that releases a set amount into a series of coils. There it shifts back into a gaseous state, and pulls heat out of the air around the coils in the process. That air can then be blown into your house with a fan through a series of ducts. The gaseous refrigerant then returns to the start of the cycle to repeat the process.

Leaks Mean Problems

Conditioning the air in this fashion is very effective, but also very delicate. If any leaks spring up in the refrigerant’s cycle, it throws off the balance required to make it all work. Frost will form on the coils, representing both lost cooling potential and an insulating barrier between the remaining refrigerant and the air it needs to cool.

That in turn, forces the air conditioner to work harder to do its job. Energy costs will rise and the added strain also increases the risk of a more serious breakdown elsewhere in the system. As the leak grows worse, the situation escalates until what we once a matter of sealing the leak and recharging the refrigerant now becomes a very expensive repair job.

All Part of the Service

Leaking refrigerant is a common problem. Fortunately, while rooting out the source of the problem and fixing it can only be done by trained professionals (refrigerant can be dangerous if not handled properly), it’s a problem that is comparatively easy to solve. In fact, it can be included as part of a maintenance session on your air conditioner: the leak can be hunted down and sealed, and the refrigerant recharged to its ideal levels.

That leaves your air conditioner in optimum shape going into our long cooling season: keeping costs down and lowering the risk of breakdowns and repairs.

For quality air conditioning maintenance sessions throughout the Delray Beach, FL area, call on the friendly professionals at Astro Air Inc. every time!

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