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AC RefrigerantLet’s Talk Refrigerant

Question: What is refrigerant? How often do I need to add or replace it?

Answer: As we demonstrated in previous blog posts, “cool” air cannot be created. “Cool” air results from a lack of heat – heat is removed from the air to make it “cool.” Simply stated, your home Air Conditioning System absorbs the heat in your home and transfers it to the Refrigerant, which is then carried to the air outside of your home and released.

The Refrigerant is a chemical that literally loops through the system’s piping from inside your home to outside your home, all the while absorbing heat and then releasing it to the external air outside your home. Refrigerants change their “phase” much like how water will evaporate into a gas when heated. Refrigerant, in its liquid state, will absorb heat. This transforms the Refrigerant into a gas. The Refrigerant is then forced to returning to its liquid state, thereby releasing the heat. The liquid then returns into your home, ready to absorb more heat. And the cycle continues.

The most commonly-used Refrigerants for home and business Air Conditioning Systems are:

  • “R12”: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs such as R12 contribute to the greenhouse gas effect. Production of R12 ended around 1994.
  • “R22”: Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Not nearly as damaging to the ozone as R12, but the EPA called for R22 to be phased out by 2020 due to the Clean Air Act of 2010.
  • “R410A”, “R134” and others: Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These are safer for the ozone layer and environment and are steadily replacing R22 in the field. The benefits to the new HFCs are greater efficiency, better air quality, greater comfort and increased reliability. R410A is also known by brand names such as “Puron” and “Genetron.”

The reason why R22 is slowly being phased out of production is because HFCs such as R410A cannot be used in Air Conditioning systems designed for R22. This is due to the fact that R410A requires increased pressure and cooling capacity when compared to R22. As new Air Conditioning systems are manufactured to accommodate HFCs, the need for R22 will decrease dramatically.

Even though HFCs are kinder to the environment than refrigerants such as R22, they are not completely safe to be released directly into the air. As such, our licensed and certified ACT First Responders follow these best practices when handling Refrigerants:

  • Make every effort to recapture, recycle and dispose of refrigerant safely
  • Utilize “Low-loss” fittings to minimize the amount of refrigerant released into the air when purging, maintaining, connecting or disconnecting Air Conditioning Systems
  • NEVER intentionally vent refrigerant from an Air Conditioning System
  • Dispose of systems that utilize Refrigerant in strict accordance with the EPA’s rules and regulations
  • Repair refrigerant leaks as soon as reported and make reasonable efforts to not let leaks continue for more than one week

There are a few more things to keep in mind regarding Refrigerants:

  • Only licensed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) companies and technicians can legally purchase or store Refrigerant
  • Violation of the EPA’s Refrigerant regulations could result in imprisonment and fines up to and including $37,500.00 per day

You should never have to replace the refrigerant in your Air Conditioning System since it is a “closed system.” If your system is not cooling or running much longer than it should, you may have a Refrigerant leak. Call Us and we’ll dispatch an ACT First Responder to perform system triage. System or component leaks must be fixed before the First Responder can add Refrigerant. Again, our ACT First Responders are committed not only to resolving your issue the First Time, Every Time but we also are committed to protecting our environment.