How To Check The Freon In a Home Air Conditioner? 

5 mins read
Check The Freon In a Home Air Conditioner

The easiest way to determine whether a home air conditioner needs maintenance or repairs is to test its refrigerant levels.

Follow this guide and learn how to quickly check the freon in a home air conditioner.

Remove the console’s outer stuff to check the air conditioner freon and get down to the condenser coils. The evaporator coil is at the bottom of this area.

Next, remove or disconnect some piping parts and attach a gauge to an opening.

Does my Air Conditioner Need a Freon Recharge?

If your air conditioner uses more energy than usual or does not cool down your home as quickly as you’d like, you may need a Freon recharge.

Air conditioners are complicated machines, and because of the work an air conditioner must do to keep your home cool, things are normal for occasionally going wrong.

What is Freon?

What Is Freon

Freon is a refrigerant common in most air conditioning units. It helps cool the air inside your home by evaporating into a gas when it absorbs heat from the air.

Unfortunately, if there is too little Freon in your system, it won’t be able to absorb enough heat.

Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs a Recharge

  • You feel heated air coming out of your vents.
  • The temperature produced by your air conditioner is nowhere near what the thermostat says it should be.
  • Your air conditioner is making strange noises.
  • Your home feels warmer than usual, even though the thermostat may indicate otherwise.
  • Your energy bills are higher than expected despite using the same energy to cool your home.

How to Check the Freon in a Home Air Conditioner?

Freon in a Home Air Conditioner

If you want to check it yourself, here is how to do it:

Step 1: Let the AC unit run for 10 minutes to get the Freon flowing.

Step 2: Locate the electrical panel outside your house that controls the AC unit and turn off the breaker. It will turn off the power to the AC unit’s fan.

Step 3: Remove any screws or bolts holding down a metal lid covering the AC condensing unit’s electrical panel, then lift off and set aside this metal lid.

Step 4: Locate the rubber cap over a copper tube at your home air conditioner’s condenser coil. 

Can I Recharge My Freon?

Yes. You may recharge your Freon, but you cannot refill your Freon.

When you need to refill or recharge your freon, there are several things you should know before you start:

  • It would help if you were experienced and certified by the EPA before recharging your Freon.
  • You should always keep a track record of when you last refilled or recharged your Freon so that if it ever gets depleted again, you will know how soon it needs to be replaced.
  • If no more space is left in the tank where your freon was stored, restore it with a new Freon as soon as possible.

How Often Does Home AC Need Freon?

How often you need to add freon depends on how well-maintained your unit is and how large of a unit you have.

If your AC is older than five years and hasn’t been maintained, you could need a new freon every week or two. 

Some factors involved:

  • The air conditioner is always running but doesn’t cool your home.
  • Vents are blowing warm air.
  • Electric bills are higher than before.
  • There is a buildup of ice on the refrigerant line.
  • A hissing or bubbling sound from the refrigerant line.

Is It Bad To Run AC With Low Freon?

Is It Bad To Run AC With Low Freon?

If your AC is low on Freon, it is not dangerous—it won’t work either.

Your AC system may leak Freon over time, but this is generally not something you should worry about unless the leak is severe. If you think your system has lost enough Freon to impact its function, you can get it recharged.

The unfortunate thing that could happen if you run your AC with low Freon is that you would be less comfortable than usual and possibly that some parts in your system could wear out sooner than they otherwise would. 

How Much Does It Cost To Add Freon To AC?

Refilling your home’s air conditioner with Freon costs around $100 to $250, depending on how much Freon you need.

However, the cost of refilling your AC unit with Freon will depend on its size and how much Freon it needs. A device under five tons will take about two pounds of Freon or less.

It usually costs about $100. A system between five and twelve tons might need ten pounds of Freon, costing as much as $250.

The type of Freon will also affect the price. Many different refrigerants are available now, but only a handful are approved for use in residential air conditioners. The most common is R-22, while newer units use R-410A.

Will Low Freon Damage a Compressor?

Home air conditioner compressor

Compressor damage can occur when Freon levels are low, even though it attempts to keep the quantity at its usual high.

When your compressor is exposed to low Freon levels, you’re asking it to run a marathon while dehydrated: your muscles will feel exhausted and may even shut down before you finish the race.

Different Types Of AC Compressors:

Reciprocating Compressor.

These move up and down in an alternating motion. To compress the refrigerant into high-pressure gas pumped through the system, releasing heat.

Scroll compressors.

Instead of moving cylinders, these pistons move orbiting scrolls to compress refrigerants. As a result, they are quieter than reciprocating compressors and more expensive and less efficient.

Rotary compressors.

Operate steadily and create a constant refrigerant flow throughout the system. They are generally used for smaller systems like individual rooms or apartments.

Can Freon Leak From an Air Conditioner?

The short answer to your question is yes; Freon can leak from an air conditioner.

Once the liquid Freon reaches the compressor of your air conditioning system, it becomes heated and expands back into its gaseous form. When this happens, it releases that heat back into the atmosphere.

If there is a leak in your air conditioning system, Freon can escape through that opening and enter the atmosphere as a gas. 

Good to know:

While Freon does not directly cause harm to human beings, there are health concerns related to its use. When released into the atmosphere in its gaseous state, it makes contact with ozone and causes damage to the ozone layer.

It depletes oxygen levels in our atmosphere and increases climate change-related problems like drought and wildfires.

What Freon Does Home AC Use?

Some of the most common Freon types used in home air conditioning units include R-22, R-410A, and R-32.

R-22 is an HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) commonly used in residential air conditioning units for many years. However, it will soon be phased out due to its ozone-depleting properties.

R-410A is also an HFC, but it is considered more environmentally friendly because it doesn’t deplete the ozone layer. It’s been used for several years and has become increasingly popular with homeowners.

Another environmental option for your home AC is R-32, a hydrogen and fluorine gas blend. While this mixture doesn’t deplete the ozone layer or contribute to global warming as much as other types of Freon, it can be combustible when mixed with air at high concentrations.

How Long Does It Take For a Freon To Settle In an Air Conditioner?

Freon takes about 15-30 minutes to settle in an air conditioner.

Because air conditioners are designed for long-term use, the refrigerant must be cooled, compressed, and liquefied before traveling through the system’s tubing to reach the fan.

The only time freon settles quickly is when there is a leak or low pressure, which means it will not cool down properly because no refrigerants are circulating through your system.

What Color Is Freon When It Leaks From the Air Conditioner?

Freon, or R-22, is an odorless gas that can leak from your air conditioner when it needs to be repaired or refilled. When it spreads, the color of the gas reflects the equipment used in the AC system more than the gas itself.

For example, if your AC uses a copper tube coil, the refrigerant will turn green when it leaks from the air conditioning system.

It changes color because copper is a reactive metal that changes upon exposure to atmospheric moisture and oxygen. Therefore, the green color should fade as it loses moisture and becomes dry.

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