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“How Long Does Freon Last in a Central Air Conditioner?” [FAQ]

Posted 08-12-14 in Air Conditioning

Recently, we had a customer who filled out our Ask an Expert form and asked, “Once the [air conditioning] system is filled with Freon, how long might the Freon last? Forever so long as there are no more leaks? Are leaks inevitable?”

For context, this customer’s parents had a slow refrigerant leak in their AC system.

These are great questions. So we wanted to share the answers with everyone.

“How long does Freon last?”

Freon (which is really just a particular brand of refrigerant) lasts forever. It’s not like gas in car; it does not get “used up.”

You see, your air conditioner’s refrigerant system is a “closed/sealed system,” meaning that it does not allow refrigerant to escape in any way.

Of course, if you are low on refrigerant your system has a leak. So adding refrigerant without addressing the leak wastes money. A ton of it.

R-22 refrigerant (a common refrigerant in older ACs) is expensive because it’s being phased out by the EPA. Adding 7 lbs of Freon could easily cost you $700.

So, that leads to the next question.

“Are Freon leaks inevitable?”

Yes. Age eventually takes its toll on an air conditioner, so you could say a refrigerant leak is inevitable. Refrigerant circulates under high pressure and therefore wears down and thins the inside of the tubing.

A better question is, “What can I do to prevent refrigerant leaks?”

Your goal is to prevent refrigerant leaks and, when you do get them, nip them in the bud before they get too large. The larger the leak, the more refrigerant you lose.

How to prevent refrigerant leaks

Keep your dog away from the outside AC unit
Dog urine is acidic and can eat through the refrigerant coils. So keep your pooch away. Alternately, you could add a small fence around the unit. But make sure you leave at least 2 feet of space free around the AC so it can cool your home properly.

Get professional AC maintenance once a year
Many leaks occur because of vibration and wear and tear at multiple joints in the system. Annual air conditioner maintenance can catch any possible leak problems before they become expensive disasters.

See what a professional AC maintenance visit should look like according to ENERGYSTAR.

Need maintenance or a repair? Got a question?

We love hearing from our neighbors in the metro Atlanta area. So if you have any questions, ask one of our experts for help.

Also, if you think your AC is low on Freon, or you just want to prevent a Freon leak, contact us for help. (P.S.: You’ll save 10% on any repairs by scheduling online!)

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Coolray is your Atlanta-area home comfort expert with specialists in heating, air conditioning, air quality and plumbing. Have more questions? We’d be happy to help – just contact us online.

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