Refrigerant solution is like the lifeblood of your air conditioner. Whether you have an indoor single-room unit or an outdoor unit that handles air conditioning for your whole home, it needs refrigerant. When this solution runs low, your air conditioning may not work properly. To make matters worse, it can develop damage as a result of losing refrigerant. Here's what you should know about this situation.
Why Refrigerant Runs Out
Although some people think otherwise, refrigerant doesn't get used up by running your air conditioner. Refrigerant is designed to be in an enclosed system that protects it from leaking out or evaporating. However, if a leak occurs, refrigerant can end up leaving the system, rendering the air conditioner less effective at doing what it typically does best.
The first thing you're likely to notice when you run low on refrigerant is that your air conditioning simply doesn't seem to cool as well as it used to. You've probably experienced this in your car as well as your home at one time or another. Refrigerant solution is essentially what saps the heat out of the air passing through the system, converting it into cold air. That cold air can then be pushed through your air ducts and cool your house or a specific room, depending on the type of air conditioner.
If you turn on your air conditioner and you feel air moving but not cold air, this is likely the problem at work. If there's no air flowing at all, there may be something wrong with the fan that propels air through the ducts.
Another thing you may notice is that your air conditioner may turn on briefly, only to shut down and then start up again. This is called short-cycling, and it typically occurs when there's a lack of refrigerant in the air conditioner.
Unfortunately, this can be problematic for the air conditioner as a whole. While you might just have a leak that's allowed refrigerant to dissipate right now, if you continue trying to use the A/C, it could become damaged by this short-cycling. Once those mechanical parts are worn down, damaged, or broken, you'll end up with a bigger problem and a bigger bill on your hands to get the unit working again. So in the short-term, you should consider not running your A/C at all until you get a professional out to look at what's going on with it.
Replacing refrigerant and fixing the leaks that allowed it to escape in the first place is usually a fairly quick job for an A/C repair professional to work on, so it shouldn't take too long before you're enjoying cold air again.