The title of this blog poses a pretty complex question. There are a lot of different components in any given air conditioning system, electrical relays, capacitors, etc. When most homeowners ask this question, though, what they have in mind is how their air conditioners actually cool their homes. And to that question, there is a fairly simple air—through the use of the refrigerant cycle. By evaporating and condensing refrigerant, ACs are able to move heat from inside the home, out.
That’s a huge oversimplification of the process, of course, but it gets the major point across. Today we’ll be diving into the topic a bit further, discussing refrigerant, how your air conditioner uses it, and the very real risk of serious problems posed by a refrigerant leak. Just keep in mind that any air conditioning repairs, absolutely including refrigerant leaks, require professional attention. Don’t ever attempt to handle your AC repairs in Chesterfield, MO, on your own.
The Refrigerant Cycle
As you’re probably aware, your air conditioner has two units. One in the house, and one outdoors. The indoor unit houses the evaporator coil, with the condenser coil residing in the outdoor unit. Refrigerant flows back and forth between these two coils via the system’s refrigerant lines. But what exactly is happening in those coils?
Well, refrigerant evaporates in the evaporator coil, allowing it to absorb heat from the air in the house. The cooled air is circulated throughout the house to cool it down, while the warm refrigerant makes its way outside to be condensed. Condensing it allows the refrigerant to release its heat outdoors. This cycle continues until your house is cooled to the desired temperature.
What Happens When Refrigerant Leaks?
Your air conditioner does not consume refrigerant as a car consumes gas. That refrigerant loop is a closed system, and the refrigerant level should remain constant. If it doesn’t, due to a leak, then a lot of problems can develop.
You may see increased energy costs, as your system works harder and harder to effectively cool your home. You may notice that your home just isn’t as cool as you’d hoped, or that your system is running for really long periods. As the problem progresses, your system may start to short cycle, meaning that it will run in short bursts. This is due to the system overheating and shutting down to avoid damage.
Refrigerant Leaks Have Real Consequences
Nobody wants to deal with excessive cooling costs. Nobody wants to pay more for less comfort. And nobody wants to have a system break down in a way that necessitates a replacement! But this can all happen if you ignore the signs of a refrigerant leak in your air conditioning system.
The only thing worse than ignoring a refrigerant leak in your system is trying to repair it on your own. The leak needs to be pinpointed. It needs to be expertly sealed. And then your system needs to be recharged to the proper level of refrigerant. All of that needs to be handled by a skilled professional.