Theoretically, an AC should never require refilling Freon. Every AC comes with enough refrigerant that should last its complete duration of life. However, there may be some cases where your AC unit needs to have Freon added. If you’re asking yourself the question, ” How often should you put Freon in air conditioner?” then this article is here to help.
Note that refrigerants R-12, R-13B1, R-22, R-410A, R-502, and R-503 manufactured by The Chemours Company are given the brand name Freon. The immense popularity of Freon has made it synonymous with refrigerants in general.
Signs that your AC needs Freon
If your air conditioner is low on Freon, it may give you the following signs:
- The overall cooling of the AC decreases.
- The vents blow lukewarm air.
- The evaporator coil has ice formation on it.
- Electric bills are higher than usual.
- Refrigerant lines produce a bubbling or hissing sound.
The most common cause behind these signs is a leak of Freon in your AC. But before you proceed with the fixing and refilling, try changing the air filter and cleaning the outside condenser unit. If the performance of the AC improves, you might not need to refill the refrigerant.
There is a misconception that an AC needs Freon in the same way a car needs fuel. Freon is a refrigerant, not a type of fuel. Your AC’s refrigerant is a sealed system, so the levels should stay the same throughout use.
The only reason your AC unit would require refilling is because it has a leak. Leaks are difficult to find, so some technicians don’t bother looking for them and just refill Freon. Or, they want to sell Freon, which is quite expensive. Either way, with Freon leaks you end up paying for refills after refills.
How to Deal with a Leak
If any initial troubleshooting doesn’t fix the issue and you become certain that the AC has a leak, you have three primary options:
1. Refilling Freon without fixing the leak
You might opt for this option because finding and fixing a leak can be expensive. Some leaks are slow, so refilling Freon can get you through the season. Next year, you can either get it fixed or replace the AC with a newer model. One tip is to add a UV dye with the refrigerant in order to help diagnose the leak in the future.
2. Finding the leak and fixing it
This course of action can be costly and time-consuming. But with the right technician, it can solve your problem in the long run. The technician will have to take these steps to identify and fix the leak:
- Use UV dye or a bubbling agent to find the leak.
- Then carefully remove Freon from the system in a controlled manner.
- Now fix the leak.
- After that, it’s time to refill Freon.
- Finally carefully test the fix to make sure it works.
3. Replacing your AC
This may be a logical way to go in some situations. If you have a really old model AC, it might be the right time for an upgrade. For instance, changing the condensing coils is particularly expensive, so if you face this issue, buying a new AC would make perfect sense.
Now you know how often you should put Freon in an air conditioner (hint: hopefully never!). With this information, you can avoid getting scammed and choose the right course of action whenever your AC needs refilling.