Air conditioning is one of those luxuries in life that most of us appreciate. In fact, we might not be able to imagine living in a world where we did not have this convenience. From time to time, however, we are reminded of just how much we have come to rely on our air conditioners and those reminders come when it breaks down.
When any problems occur with an air conditioner, most homeowners tend to panic. After all, replacing the unit is one of the more expensive repairs that might occur at home and not all of us are equipped to handle that expense when it happens. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to get your ac back up and running on your own, including replacing the freon.
The time to replace the freon in an air-conditioning unit typically comes about when you notice that it is no longer cooling the inside of the home. It still may be blowing colder air but it is not blowing it cold enough that it makes it comfortable. In addition, the drop-in efficiency can really make a difference when it comes to your energy bill every month. In any case, replacing the freon may be an alternative to getting it cooled down again but it might not be a permanent fix.
Before we talk about how to replace the freon in an air conditioner unit, it’s a good idea to discuss why you may need to replace it in the first place. An air conditioner is a closed unit, meaning that the freon in the unit when it was first installed should still be the freon in it for many years to come. The only reason why the freon would be missing from the system is due to a refrigerant leak. That is why it is very important for you to have it checked as soon as possible. You may still be able to add some freon and get the home cooled down again but eventually, it is going to leak out of the system again.
You also have the possibility of sealing the problem on your own and there are some options available for the homeowner to fix the problem. You should use some caution when doing so, however, because there are some reports that these DIY projects can actually harm the system more than helping it. If you are just trying to limp along until you are able to have it fixed professionally, however, it might be something to consider.
The following steps can be taken to replace the freon in an air-conditioning system:
- Gather your supplies – It is important to ensure that you have all of your supplies available before you actually begin the process. If you have an older unit, built before 2010, you are probably going to use R-22. Newer systems might not even use refrigerant, so you need to make that determination before you start.
If a leak is causing the freon to dissipate, you will have to purchase a freon repair kit. These will generally come with everything necessary to get the job done properly. Be sure that you follow the instructions carefully so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
- Shut down – It is vitally important that you turn off your air conditioner and all of the associated circuits before you begin doing any work on the unit. If the unit is energized, you could be at risk for electric shock or electrocution. Don’t take a chance with your personal safety.
- Wear PPE – Make sure that you have all of the appropriate personal protective equipment on before you begin repairing the leak. This would include the appropriate gloves, safety goggles and a breathing mask. Freon is not overly toxic to humans but if it does get on your skin or if you breathe it in, it can be very dangerous. Protect your body with the appropriate PPE.
- Locate the leak – It is necessary to run an inspection to locate the leak before you repair it. You will attach pressure valves to the unit and then wait long enough until the valve stabilizes. If you have a temperature that is higher than 45°F, you are probably looking at a leak.
Give the unit a thorough inspection to see if you can find a leak visibly. Read the instructions to ensure that you are using the gauges properly.
- Seal the leak – This may be different, depending upon which product you purchased. Read over the details in the instructions very carefully before you proceed.
- Add refrigerant – Reattach any gauges to the lines to ensure that you have a proper pressure and temperature. After you have everything established, begin adding the freon to the unit and allow it to circulate through the system. Don’t add too much of the time because it may take a while before the readings are accurate. You can read more on bluon refrigerant here.
- Run Some Tests – If you feel that you now have the proper amount of freon in place, it’s time to test the system. After allowing things to circulate for 20 minutes then run the unit and check the gauges for pressure and temperature.
- Call a Professional – This can also be moved into the number one position. Although it may be possible to repair a leak and replace the freon in your AC unit, it is not always going to be the best choice. Sometimes you just need to call a professional and have them do the work for you.
Not only will they be able to get your system back up and blowing cold air again, they will also be able to identify the specific type of leak you are experiencing. At that point, they can do any professional repairs that are necessary to ensure that your unit blows cold for a very long time and that any future problems are kept in the future for as long as possible.