All About Freon
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How to Add Freon to Your Central Air Conditioner
If your central air conditioner isn't lowering the temperature of your house like it used to, the problem could very well be that a Freon leak plaguing in your AC system. Freon is known as a refrigerant, sometimes it's also called the coolant. Freon, the refrigerant, is the substance which enables your Air Conditioner unit to be able to evaporate the internal heat which then enables the air that is expelled to be cooler.
If your air conditioning system has developed a Freon leak, you will have to identify the location of the leak or leaks and seal any problem areas, replace the leaking coolant, and replace the missing Freon in the unit. In other words, your air conditioning system needs a Freon recharge.
Even someone who is extremely handy with do-it-yourself projects can have problems with this because it tends to be technical. Additionally, many states and counties have laws intended to regulate the use and sale of the Freon refrigerant. But, if you follow the local regulations and laws and then follow the steps below with care, you can fix and recharge your A/C system safely. If you are unable to obtain Freon do to lacking a license or just don't want to be bothered with doing the work, we can help. Call Us at 757-351-4020 and let one of our trained HVAC professionals come out and diagnose your AC system, perform any necessary Freon leak repairs, recharge your system and determine if additional AC repair is necessary so that once again you can be the cool kid on the block!
Step 1 – Purchasing Your Supplies
First things first. You will need to determine the type of Freon that your your air conditioning system requires. If your unit was manufactured before 2010, most likely it is going to require R-22 refrigerant. As R-22 is being phased out you can expect the R22 Freon Price to continue to increase. The Freon cost of the newer refrigerant, R-410A, in addition to the higher efficiency of the newer systems, and lower operating costs should be reflected in a more stable Freon price for those to have upgraded. To make sure what type of Freon your system uses, you should check on the unit for the label which specifies the type of refrigerant to add. Newer systems utilize R-410A as their refrigerant. R-410A can't be used in a system not specifically designed to use it (i.e. older systems). The higher pressure requirements of the R-410A refrigerant can not be satisfied by the older AC components. For this reason it is imperative that you must make sure that you check your system before you decide that a leak is causing the poor cooling and before adding coolant.
If you’re sure that a leak is the primary problem, you should then buy a Freon repair kit. These kits are great for an HVAC novice and usually come with an injection hose which is reusable, an air conditioner sealant, and more importantly, make sure that it comes with a detailed set of instructions. Or, you can decide to buy each of the individual items. In addition, you will need to purchase a set of pressure and temperature gauges.
Step 2 – Power Off Your AC System
You will need to turn off your air conditioner and temporarily turn off the circuit breakers that send power to it. If you are going to do any internal repairs on your air conditioner, having any electricity running to the system, even if the system is not turned on is dangerous.
Step 3 - Use Protection
Wear eye protection, gloves, and also a face mask. It is important that you protect yourself!
Step 4 – Locate the source of the Leak
If you suspect a Freon leak a complete inspection should be performed to make sure that there actually is a leak and to locate precisely where it is.
Now, attach a temperature gauge to the valves and wait around five minutes in order to get a correct reading.
You will need to do some research to determine what the proper reading should be for your AC unit model. Anything in the 45 degrees’ Fahrenheit range usually means that your coolant levels are sufficient. If the temperature is higher than that, or higher than the number listed in your manual, your coolant level may be low. The refrigerant in your system doesn't evaporate, so if your unit doesn't have enough then there is a leak somewhere.
Before continuing with recharging your system with Freon, you should inspect it to see if you can locate the source of the leak.
In order to locate the source of your Freon leak, you'll have to connect your gauges to the AC lines to detect any low pressure issues. If you’re utilizing a commercial Freon kit, the instructions will clearly tell you what gauges and what lines attach to where.
If you determine that the low side pressure is below 65psi, you very likely have a leak. You can also do a visual inspection along pressure lines and joint connections for signs of leaks. Sometimes dyes are added to the refrigerant so that you can see color where a leak has occurred. Once you locate the source of the leak, you can begin the air conditioner repair steps.
Step 5 – Attaching Your Repair Kit
So, now that you've inspected your AC unit and located any and all leaky areas, it is time to locate the compressor unit. The compressor has two lines coming from valves. The valve that’s larger is the service valve which is the low pressure suction line. The smaller valve is called the tap valve and it leads to the high pressure liquid line.
To properly seal any detected leak, you’ll need to connect the injection hose and the can of sealant to the compressor lines. Once again, you should consult the information provided with your kit to prevent any confusion.
Once you have the hose is connected to the supply line and you have the can of sealant attached to the hose, you should be sure to not tip the can. It should be held in an upright position to prevent any damage to your central air conditioner unit.
Step 6 – Seal the Leak
Depending on the products which you have purchased, the details for accomplishing this will vary. But in any case, you will have to restore the power to your air conditioner unit and have the AC operating for this step.
Once you pierce the can of sealant, you will want to let it run through your system for no less than a full minute to make sure that the sealant has been properly distributed so that it’s had enough time to patch up any leaks.
Along with the existing refrigerant the sealant will travel through the air conditioning system and seal leaks from within.
Step 7 – Prepare the System for Recharge
Now, in order to recharge your AC system you will need to reconnect the gauges to the system and connect the container of Freon to the gauges using the various hoses. Also, reconnect your temperature gauges to the lines so that you can make certain that you’re getting a clear reading. Many people quit using the gauges at this point, which is a mistake. Using the gauges is the proper way for you to recharge an air conditioner. You need to monitor how much Freon that you are adding in order not add too much.
Step 8 – Adding Refrigerant
Once everything connected to your air conditioner system, you can then open the valve on your container of Freon to allow the refrigerant to circulate through your AC system. You should only add small amounts at a time, while allowing around 10 minutes between each small amount that you add in order to get an accurate reading on your gauges.
Make sure the Freon container stays upright the entire time. Tilting the container can introduce the refrigerant into your compressor damaging the whole air conditioner unit.
Step 9 – Test the System
Once you’ve added the proper amount of coolant according to the reading on your gauges, then test run the system run for 15-20 minutes. If everything indicates that your air conditioning system is cooling properly, then you can detach the gauges and hoses.
If your air conditioner system is still not cooling, then you either need more Freon, you still have a leak, and you should call an HVAC specialist for further investigation.
As mentioned earlier, Freon is a regulated substance in most areas, including in Virginia. This is not necessarily a process that everyone can do on their own. In many areas you will not be able to purchase Freon without first obtaining a license. Obtaining a license requires you to take and pass on online course. While not necessarily difficult, having a license is required in Virginia to purchase Freon. However, that being said this guide is for those who can obtain Freon legally and for those who have legal access to Freon and would like to recharge their own air conditioner system without having to hire a licensed professional. It is very important that you exercise caution while performing this task if you decide to attempt it yourself.
If you would prefer hiring a professional to diagnose your system and give your system a Freon charge if necessary, Call Us Now!