All of us, no matter what walk of life you come from, has a goal: finding ways to save money. This applies to shopping, vehicle repairs, even home repairs. One of those repairs that can become costly in the home is your air conditioning system. This comes into play especially if you live in a state where the temperatures can become unbearable to even go outside. But, if your air conditioning system is not properly serviced or maintained, it can be burdensome inside your home, even possibly death by heat stroke, with not enough cool air circulating throughout the home, especially for senior citizens, or those that are mentally or physically handicapped. In order to service your air conditioner properly, you must have some sort of knowledge on working on air conditioners, and the proper tools to do the job. There is even a hvac app for phone that you can use as well for diagnosis. We will be looking at how to diagnose the problem of needing refrigerant, then properly adding refrigerant to your system.
Identifying the Problem
Before anything is to be done to the air conditioner, you must first perform troubleshooting procedures. If you walk by your air conditioner, and it is blowing warm air instead of cold air, there may be the possibility that refrigerant, also known as freon may need to be added. But you may have to look deeper into that for the issue, for there could be a broken thermostat as well. However, if the temperature inside your home or office tends to grow warmer over time, then you may need to add refrigerant to your air conditioner as the system is losing refrigerant slowly.
Next, you should look at the pipe/coils of you’re a/c system, and this can be done by just looking at the window of where you’re a/c unit is located. The tell-tale sign to look for is ice or frost covered pipes/coils on the unit. If they are present, then you’re a/c unit is experiencing a leak, while losing freon at the same time. Even though we are looking for ways for you to add refrigerant yourself, if you are not familiar with repairing leaks, then a HVAC technician needs to be contacted to resolve the issue, as the problem will continue, and could be costly. You must have the leak fixed before adding refrigerant to the system, or this will cause more damage to you’re a/c unit.
You should also look for water buildup on the floor where your unit is situated. If there is water on the floor, this is a sign of excessive moisture, which was caused by icy coils / pipes melting around the furnace, and this is another scenario where a HVAC technician will have to be called is, as the buildup of water can cause damage to your furnace, which if left unresolved, can become a very expensive repair.
Repair of Leaks
A qualified HVAC technician should be called to check for any leaks in your air conditioner, and to also ensure that your unit(s) are tightly secured and sealed to the point that there should never be any leaks. If there are any leaks in the unit, and you attempt to add refrigerant to the unit, you will continue to have that issue, while contributing to additional damage to the unit.
Using Refrigerant Properly
Before adding any type of refrigerant / freon to the unit, you must ensure that all the working parts are functioning properly, and that all the parts are cleaned before any refrigerant is to be added to the unit. The maintenance should be performed by a HVAC technician, or if you have experience in servicing an air condition unit. This must be done because if you add freon to you’re a/c unit and it is dirty, you run the risk of damaging the a/c further, and that is what is to be avoided at all costs.
Choosing the right refrigerant
There are 2 commonly used refrigerant types for “charging” your air conditioner unit in order to function properly. The refrigerants are the r-22 type, which is the older of the 2 types and it is being phased out due to the fact that the r-22 refrigerant is an ozone depleting refrigerant, and you have the R410A type, which is also known as puron, which is now the new standard of refrigerant for newer model air conditioning systems, as of 2015. According to your air conditioning system, you must choose the correct refrigerant, or you run the risk of combustion, property damage, or personal injury.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
While you are handling freon or puron when charging your air conditioner, you should always think of safety and wear safety equipment, such as safety goggles, and thick gloves, and even think about wearing long sleeves as well. You should not inhale any refrigerant as it can lead to sudden death, as well as some refrigerants are hazardous materials.
As crazy at it may seem, outside temperature plays a part in charging your air conditioner, as the liquid refrigerant tends to find the coldest area of the unit. The outdoor temperature must be above 55 degrees, or the freon will not work properly while in those conditions.
Adding refrigerant to the unit
Who can perform the task?
As mentioned earlier, the function of this piece is to lay the groundwork for adding the refrigerant to your air conditioner yourself, but you can also consider bringing in a qualified professional to do the job if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Be advised that if you do perform the task yourself, you can possibly damage the unit; furthermore, improper handling of the refrigerant can cause injury, death, explosions, and property damage. These reasons are why the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA recommends that whoever performs the task has the proper certifications to perform the job.
Prior to adding refrigerant to the air conditioner, you should ensure that you turn off the power to your air conditioner at the thermostat and the breaker panel. At your breaker box, there will either be fuses or circuit breakers. If there are fuses, disconnect them, and if there are breakers, turn the breaker off.
Next, you will want to hook up the refrigerant gauges to the valve connections, but you will leave one connection empty, for this one will be used to add the refrigerant to the system.
You will turn the a/c unit on and wait at least 15 minutes in order to stabilize the unit. That way you will be able to get accurate reading.
You will take your canister that contains the refrigerant, and open it, then attaching the last remaining hose to the canister, then to the gauges.
Open and close the pressure gauges to slowly allow the refrigerant to enter the a/c unit. While doing this, you will continue to monitor the gauges until the desired subcooling temperature has been achieved.
Once you have reached the temperature that you are looking for, you will want to turn off the vales, and disconnect the gauges.
Lastly, after everything has been disconnected, you will perform a leak test to make sure everything is safe for operating the unit, and this can be done using an electric leak detector, the hvac app for phone, or if you don’t feel okay performing this, you can contact a HVAC technician to perform this step.