Does My Central Air Conditioner Need A Freon Recharge?

One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area receives calls year round from residents in California asking about why their air conditioners are failing. A common problem is a lack of freon, and a quick solution would be to recharge the A/C with more freon.

Typical questions include:

  • Why is my air conditioner not cooling my home like it used to?
  • Why has my central air conditioner stopped blowing cold air altogether?

The answer to these questions could be from a lack of Freon, but it is also important to check other components of your air conditioner before making the conclusion that it is a lack of freon.

Before you have a contractor come and recharge your Freon, you should make sure they perform routine maintenance to ensure they are covering all the bases.

A routine HVAC maintenance will include:

  • Replacing the air filter
  • Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils – Dirty coils can cause problems very similar to an air conditioner with low refrigerant.
  • Checking the air handler, blower fan, and condenser fan
  • Checking your refrigerant levels
  • Search for leaks

Because when you perform an unnecessary recharge, it can lead to the following consequences from overcharge.

  • Overcharging your freon could destroy your air conditioner’s compressor
  • The air conditioner can break down completely
  • You run the risk of warming your coils, and the suction side pressure will run too high
  • Unexpected condensation or frosting may occur

It is also important to know that a freon recharge is rare. Freon does not just run out; it is not consumed when you use your air conditioner. If you do need a freon recharge, the conclusion will be is that it is leaking somewhere. You will need a licensed HVAC professional to help you find the leak and recharge your freon.

Most refrigeration companies will not sell refrigerants to unlicensed professionals. If the problem is related to a freon, leak you need to call a technician.

How Can I Tell If I Need More Freon in My Home’s Air Conditioner?

Here are signs that indicate your heating and the cooling unit are low on freon.

  • House takes forever to cool off
  • Ice build up on the evaporator coils
  • Air conditioner runs much longer than usual
  • Water accumulates on the floor by your furnace due to condensation
  • Supply ducts are blowing hot air even when your air conditioner is running, and your thermostat is set to cool

How To Add Freon To A Home AC Unit

You need to be aware that if your air conditioning unit uses the CFC type of refrigerant, you will need a licensed AC technician to recharge the system in the United States. It is against the law in the U.S. for anyone not authorized to buy or use ozone-depleting CFC or HCFC refrigerants.

The process of recharging your freon can be very technical, and we highly recommend having a professional HVAC technician perform this task for you. This process also requires the right equipment and refrigerant that might not be available for purchase.

Method for changing your freon in your air conditioner:

  • Turn off your air conditioning unit
  • Attach the correct hoses from the gauge manifold to the right system pressure ports
  • Turn your AC back on and wait 15minutes for your A/C to reach steady state of operations
  • Check the temperatures
  • Determine your metering device – verify the charging procedure chart in your unit to check what type of metering device is needed.
  • Check for leaks – leaks can be found around any joints or connections
  • Connect the charging or supply hose from your manifold to the refrigerant container with the container in an upright position
  • Add refrigerant slowly and in small amounts. Allow 5-10 minutes between each addition.
  • Observe a complete cooling cycle – watch for the AC to complete the cooling cycle and then remove the gauges.

How Much Does It Cost to Add Freon to a Home Air Conditioner?

On average freon costs between $60-$85 a pound.

The exact cost will depend on a variety of factors.

  • Price varies during different seasons.
  • How many pounds of freon your system needs
  • The climate you live in – for example, California’s demand is higher due to the ongoing hot climate
  • How much the supplier is charging for freon

Call One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area if you are suspecting your air conditioner might be low on freon. Our technicians will take the necessary steps to determine if that is the cause of your problem.

If it is the problem we will locate the leak and repair it. Significant leaks in the condenser or evaporator coils will be expensive, and if the problem is existing for a unit that is very old, then a replacement should be considered as a more affordable and efficient option for your home in the long run.

One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® of the Bay Area provides A/C services for Sonoma County