How Often Do You Need To Add Freon To A Central Air Conditioning Unit?
Written By: Alexis Bennett
Edited by: Andrew Dunn
Are you wondering how often you need to add freon to your central air conditioner? If so, we can help.
In this guide, we cover:
- What is freon?
- How often do you need to recharge your HVAC system?
- Can you refill your central AC refrigerant yourself?
- What causes your HVAC to lose freon?
Refrigerant is essential in all central air conditioners. If your air conditioner’s refrigerant levels are too low, it can damage components like the compressor, condenser, and evaporator coil.
With so many costly parts at stake, how do you know when your AC needs more coolant? Keep reading to find out.
What's In This Guide?
What Is Refrigerant Used For In Your Air Conditioner?
Without refrigerant, your air conditioner is little more than a central fan. The blower would still push air out your vents, but your evaporator coil would be unable to remove heat and moisture from the air.
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How Do You Know What Type Of Refrigerant Your Air Conditioner Needs?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other global environmental agencies completed a phaseout of R-22 refrigerant that began more than 10 years ago. How does that help you determine what kind of freon your system needs?
Units manufactured after 2010 use a more affordable, less harmful new refrigerant like R-410A, also known by the brand names Puron®, Forane® 410A, GENETRON AZ-20®, and SUVA 410A®. If you are unsure what type of coolant your system uses, consult your owner’s manual or contact the maker.
How Do You Know If Your HVAC Unit Freon Levels Are Low?
There are many signs that it’s time for a refrigerant charge. Most of the time, if you think your AC system would benefit from recharging, you are correct.
As a homeowner, you know if your air conditioner is running longer, struggling to lower the temperature you set on the thermostat, and making noises it didn’t make in the past. And, if you find yourself asking, ‘is my home AC blowing warm air,’ you likely need freon.
An easy way to check is to turn but your air conditioner on and set the temperature 10 degrees lower than the room temperature. After the air conditioner runs for 30 minutes, check the refrigerant lines that connect your condenser to your indoor air conditioning unit.
If you see ice on the copper pipes, you likely need more coolant. A frozen evaporator coil is also a sign that the amount of refrigerant in your unit is too low.
For information on how to check refrigerant levels using pressure gauges, check out this video:
How Frequently Should You Add Freon To Your AC Units?
If they are properly installed in the first place, HVACs are sealed systems. So, once you charge your AC, you should never have to worry about low refrigerant levels unless you have a refrigerant leak or replace a component that uses it. If you think your AC is low on coolant, you should schedule a service call with a professional HVAC technician.
Freon is a toxic chemical that can be harmful if ingested by pets or children. It can also be hazardous if you breathe the gas as it can cut off oxygen to major organs like your brain, heart, and lungs.
So, if you think you need more freon, having a licensed air conditioning system specialist check for leaks will not only help to prevent the need for additional repairs and save you money on your energy bills, it is also the responsible thing to do.
How Much Will It Cost To Recharge Your Air Conditioner Unit?
The cost of refilling your AC unit depends on your system’s size and the type of refrigerant your system uses. If you have an older HVAC system, refilling it will likely be more costly.
Due to the EPA’s new guidelines, there is a ban on the manufacturing and importing of R-22 freon. What does that mean if you own an older HVAC system?
It means you can expect to pay double or triple what a homeowner with a new system pays to add freon. On average, you can expect to spend as much as $80 to $120 per pound for R-22 refrigerant, whereas the newer R-140A coolant only costs around $20 per pound.
Now, multiply the price per pound times the number of pounds your central air conditioner needs to determine the cost of refilling your system. You will also need to pay the technician to repair any refrigerant leaks.
The average repair bill for refrigerant line leaks is between $225 and $1,000.
Final Advice On How Often You Need To Add Freon To A Central Air Conditioner
While you should not have to add freon to your HVAC unless you need to replace part of your system or repair a leak, it would be wise to address any system issues that require a coolant refill now, especially if you are still using the old freon.
The cost of recharging your AC will continue to rise as R-22 becomes harder to find. Even with a top-notch home warranty that covers most AC repairs, you may be responsible for paying a significant portion of the cost for refilling your older HVAC as the cost for R-22 coolant surpasses the plan limits on many policies.