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Refrigerant: 4 Signs Your Home’s Air Conditioner Is Low

Posted 05-13-15 in Air Conditioning

Woman hot in her Atlanta home because her air conditioner's refrigerant is lowTo properly cool your home, your central air conditioner needs enough refrigerant.

Too little refrigerant leaves you sweaty and can severely damage your air conditioner.

But how do you know if you’re low on refrigerant?

Here are 4 signs.

1) You’re uncomfortable at home

If you’re low on refrigerant, you should notice that your air conditioner runs constantly, struggling to reach your temperature setting—or it may never reach it at all.

On very hot days, you may even feel lukewarm air coming out your supply vents.

2) Higher than normal electric bills

Sure, summer electric bills are usually high. But being low on refrigerant makes them rise sky high.


Like we said before, your AC will struggle to reach the temperature setting, causing it to run constantly. As a result, your electric bills surge.

3) Ice buildup on air conditioner

Low refrigerant causes ice to form on your inside unit’s evaporator coil. This causes cold liquid refrigerant to flow back the refrigerant line and to the outside unit.

Go outside and look at your outside unit. See any ice building up on the refrigerant line? That’s a sign you may be low on refrigerant.

Warning: Refrigerant flooding back to the outside unit can damage its compressor. That’s the heart of your AC unit. If it gets damaged, you’ll need a new compressor (it’s so expensive that, if the warranty does not cover it, it’s cheaper to replace the entire outside unit).

4) You hear a hissing or bubbling noise

Refrigerant does not get “used up” like gas in a car. The only time you’ll be low on refrigerant is due to a refrigerant leak.

When you have a major refrigerant leak, refrigerant makes a hissing or bubbling noise as it escapes.

Don’t “top it off” with more refrigerant...

If you see/hear the above signs, here’s your next move: call an AC tech for an air conditioner repair.

We say “repair” and not “refrigerant refill” because, like we said, it’s not a matter of “topping off” your AC off with more refrigerant. If you’re low on refrigerant, you also have a leak that needs repairing.

Adding more refrigerant without fixing the leak would be a massive waste of money (refrigerant ain’t cheap, you know?).

Got questions? Ask our experts for help (It’s free).

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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