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What Does Refrigerant Do for My Air Conditioner?

If you haven’t heard the term “refrigerant” used before, you’ve probably still heard a similar term—Freon. Freon is actually a mislabeling, a brand name no longer used universally. Refrigerant is a term used to describe the chemical blend in an air conditioner that is responsible for heat exchange, and there are a few different types in use.

Before the last couple of decades, R-22 was the refrigerant used most commonly. However, concerns about the ozone layer led to the usage of R-410A, which is what most modern systems are manufactured with and which is more environmentally friendly.

Refrigerant and the Heat Exchange Process

Your air conditioner runs via the process of refrigeration, which is actually the removal of heat from a space. Heat must be removed from the air in order to cool it down. Refrigerant is able to absorb heat relatively easily and release it under the right pressure. That’s what the compressor, evaporator, and condenser coil help with.

When refrigerant moves through your indoor evaporator coil, in turns into a gas and is able to absorb heat. The coil cools down so warm air is cooled as it moves over it. When refrigerant moves outside, it turns to liquid under high pressure and can release heat.

Why You Cannot Just Recharge Refrigerant

Sometimes, air conditioners fail and we get this question: “Can you just add more refrigerant?” This is a common misconception—that adding refrigerant can solve an AC cooling issue. Of course, an air conditioner is a complex unit with a lot of electrical and mechanical parts, so there may be any number of issues with your AC system.

Moreover, simply adding refrigerant to the unit is not enough even if refrigerant levels are low. As we described above, refrigerant is clearly vital to the performance of your AC system, which is why it’s designed to remain in the system. While heat releases from refrigerant, the refrigerant itself shouldn’t dissipate from the system.

When refrigerant levels are low, there’s usually a leak that should be sealed in order to ensure the continued performance and efficiency of your AC system.

Call Air Classic for all of your air conditioning needs in the San Fernando Valley.

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