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Serving Northern California Since 1946

Serving Northern California Since 1946


DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. Blog

The Problem with Believing This One Refrigerant Myth


We don’t expect the average homeowners to know very much about the intricate components of their air conditioner. We do, however, expect the average homeowner to want their system to work as efficiently and effectively as possible, which is why it’s important to know what myths about your air conditioner can actually hurt its performance.

One of these myths is about refrigerant. The common misconception is that refrigerant is a fuel that “runs out.” This is not the case, though! your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant upon manufacturing to ideally last its entire useful service life. If your system is losing refrigerant, it means you have a leak. Read on to learn more!

You Shouldn’t Need to “Top Off” Your AC Refrigerant

There are, unfortunately, dishonest folks out there who will call themselves a “professional” but tell you that your air conditioner’s refrigerant has to be “topped off” on occasion to keep the system functioning. The fact of the matter is that refrigerant is not a fuel and therefore does not deplete or get “used up” as your air conditioner runs. Your cooling system is instead designed to use the same level of refrigerant–called its charge–throughout its entire lifespan.

But why is it that they’re telling you this? Is your air conditioner not losing refrigerant?

Actually, your system could very well be losing refrigerant, but if it is, it means there is a leak that needs to be located and properly repaired. Without replacing this refrigerant, your comfort and AC efficiency will suffer. Sure, it will seem to improve temporarily if it’s recharged without addressing the leak, but this change won’t be permanent and it can cause an early demise for the equipment.

Avoiding Compressor Damage

The compressor is basically the “heart” of your air condtioner and is the most expensive part of your air conditioner. If the compressor breaks down, it usually means you have to start looking into a whole air conditioning replacement.

The only time this isn’t the case is if your AC system is still under manufacture warranty, and you’ve had professional maintenance done each year. If this is the case, then you would only have to pay for labor to replace the compressor.

So why are we talking about this in a refrigerant myth blog? Well, because if you let a refrigerant leak go on for too long without addressing it, and instead just continuing to get it recharged, then it can and will cause damage to the compressor!

“How Do I Know If I Have a Refrigerant Leak?”

Great question! Depending on where along your refrigerant line the leak is located, you may hear either a hissing or bubbling sound. If this is a noise you’ve never heard previously come from your air conditioner, it’s almost definitely a sign that something is amiss with the refrigerant line, and it’s time to give us a call.

Another sign is that your air conditioner is struggling to actually reach the desired temperature you set on your thermostat. Without enough refrigerant in the system, a cooling system simply can’t cool to the best of its ability!

Contact DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. for quality air conditioning services in Modesto and beyond.

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