When your air conditioner is running but isn’t effectively cooling your house, often times the problem is that it’s low on coolant, aka refrigerant. It may seem like the quick and easy solution to this problem is simply to add some refrigerant to the system. However, it’s really not a good idea to just “top off” the refrigerant without first checking for and fixing leaks. Here’s why.
First of all, it’s important to realize that losing refrigerant isn’t a part of normal air conditioning operation. The refrigerant is contained in a sealed system, and the AC doesn’t actually consume the refrigerant as it runs. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it wasn’t charged properly to begin with or it has a leak.
If it has a leak, simply adding more refrigerant to the system without repairing the leak itself is only a temporary fix, and it can lead to further problems over time. As long as the leak remains, you’ll have to keep adding more refrigerant to keep the system working. Meanwhile, your system will be running less and less efficiently because it won’t stay at the optimum refrigerant level for long. As the level drops, your AC will have to run for increasingly longer times to cool your home, which will drive up your energy bills.
Not only that, but the leak can get worse. Tiny pinhole leaks that aren’t fixed can quickly grow into much larger ones that will be more expensive or even impossible to repair. Leaking refrigerant can also cause your coils to freeze, which again can cause much worse damage. Additionally, if the leak becomes bad enough, unhealthy and foul-smelling gases from it can enter your home. And it’s not good for the environment either.
Ultimately, if your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, you will be much better off if you find out why and fix the underlying problem now instead of waiting for it to become a bigger one. Putting it off will only cost more money in the long run.