There is no way to check the charge (amount) of refrigerant in your air conditioning system without a licensed technician, but there are definitely signs that you should get your system checked.
Refrigerant is the substance that flows through your system to absorb and remove heat from the cooling chamber. The refrigerant is sent through the condenser and compressor, converting it from liquid to gas and back again.
Due to the compression and condensing stages, there is a manufacturer recommended charge for your refrigerant levels.
If your system does not meet this charge it will make it more difficult for the system to complete the cycle efficiently. There are two ways of reaching an incorrect refrigerant charge: (1) your system was installed incorrectly (2) your system has a leak.
We wrote about what a refrigerant leak can mean for your system last month, but to sum it up, it’s not good.
Note: It is important to note that these symptoms could also be caused by poor airflow. Ensure that you have eliminated the possibility of airflow issues first.
Here are four signs that your air conditioner could have an incorrect charge:
No Cold Air: When your system is low on refrigerant, more heat is trapped in the cooling chamber, meaning that it’s harder to cool the air entering your home. Because the system can’t adjust and keep the air there for longer, it sends air out at a less than ideal temperature.
Long Cooling Cycles: This symptom goes hand-in-hand with the one above. When the air that is being pushed into your home is warmer than it should be, your system has to run longer cycles to reach the temperatures that your thermostat is set to.
Higher Energy Bills: Once again, these symptoms are related. Because of the longer cooling cycles your system is running, your energy bills will spike. While receiving the same amount of cool air, your system can be working 2 to 3 times harder than it should be. If you notice a sudden spike in your bills, you may want to look into the two signs above this one.
Frozen Refrigerant Lines: When the system is too low on refrigerant, the evaporator coil can get too cold. This causes ice to build up on the coil itself, but also on the surrounding components of your air conditioner. If you notice an ice build ups on your air conditioner, this is most probably the reason.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact an A1 service professional. Click here to schedule a service appointment for your system.