Your air conditioning unit is designed to cool your home continually to your desired temperatures. For these units to able to do that, they rely on a coolant or refrigerant. Usually, these refrigerants should last the entire service life of your air conditioning unit. However, wear and tear and things such as accidental damages may cause leaks to develop in your AC system. If too much of the refrigerant leaks, your AC won't function properly. For this reason, you need to know when your AC is low on refrigerant because in most cases, the refrigerant can be replaced once the sources of the leaks have been identified and repaired. Here are some of the red flags you should watch out for.
Loss in Your AC Unit's Cooling Capacity
Since air conditioning units work by circulating the pressurised refrigerant, low refrigerant levels will definitely affect the cooling capability of your unit. Therefore, if you keep on adjusting your thermostat to lower temperatures but don't notice any change the in your home's indoor temperatures, it's an obvious sign that your AC is running low on refrigerant.
Sometimes loss of cooling capacity is accompanied by high energy bills. If you keep on adjusting the unit to lower temperatures, it will use up more electricity.
Unusual Sounds from Your AC Unit
The refrigerant is usually highly pressurised in the refrigerant lines. Therefore, when you have a refrigerant leak, you may hear bubbling, gurgling, or hissing noises. This is usually the sound of the refrigerant escaping. It's like squeezing air out of a balloon. However, the leak has to be large enough for you to hear these noises. You may not hear anything at all if the leak is minor.
Build-Up of Ice On Evaporator Coils and Refrigerant Lines
Iced up refrigerant lines and evaporator coils are also other signs that your AC unit is running low on refrigerant. Since refrigerants are often pressurised, low amounts of refrigerant will also reduce pressure. When the pressure is low, the temperatures will come down quickly. Eventually, your evaporator coils may freeze up. When these coils are iced up, cold refrigerant flowing through the refrigerant lines will make moisture in the surrounding air to freeze up as well and this will in turn cause the build-up of ice on your refrigerant lines.
Since leaks are usually the major causes of low refrigerant levels, don't top off or refill the refrigerant. Call a professional and have the problem fixed before you recharge the refrigerant.