Refrigerant plays a critical role in helping your air conditioner or heat pump keep you cool during Yuma’s long, hot summers. The more you know about how it works, the easier it will be to keep your system efficient.
The Cooling Cycle
Refrigerant, also called coolant, is a fluid that circulates through your cooling system absorbing heat from the air indoors and carrying that heat to the outdoor unit to be released into the outdoor air. Refrigerant entering the compressor in the outdoor unit is a hot, low-pressure gas. The compressor adds more pressure and sends the gas on to the condenser. As the gas flows through the condenser coils, it releases heat and turns into a liquid.
The cooler liquid flows through copper lines back into your home and first enters the expansion valve. The expansion valve rapidly reduces the pressure on the gas and controls the amount that enters the evaporator coil. In the evaporator coil, the cold liquid refrigerant absorbs heat from the air and turns back into a gas. From here, it flows back to the outdoor unit.
Efficiency and Safety
Air conditioners and heat pumps don’t consume coolant, so the amount in your system won’t fall unless there’s a leak. Signs of a leak include:
- A steady decrease in cooling performance
- More time needed to cool your home
- Low airflow from the supply registers
- Air from the supply registers feeling warmer than usual
- Ice on the copper lines coming from the outdoor unit
If you suspect your system is leaking, contact a technician immediately. Low refrigerant levels can damage your system’s components and the fluid itself is toxic. A technician can repair the leak and replace the refrigerant.
Systems built before January 1st, 2010 use the old R-22 coolant. Newer systems use R-410A. As supplies of R-22 run out, repairing leaks in old systems will become increasingly expensive. This is one reason to consider upgrading to a modern cooling system.
To learn more about keeping your A/C or heat pump efficient, contact us at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company in the Yuma area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about refrigerant and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 928-723-3183.
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