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Everybody likes things that are low-maintenance, and if your air conditioner is working properly, its refrigerant is NO-maintenance. Refrigerant is the chemical in your AC Unit that absorbs heat and cools the air. It circulates in a closed loop, so it will never need to be replaced during your air conditioner’s entire lifetime.

Until this year, the refrigerant in air conditioners was a substance called Freon (also called HCFC-22 and R-22). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned this chemical because of its detrimental impact upon global warming and ozone deterioration. The New York Times reported that this substance traps “thousands of times as much atmospheric heat as carbon dioxide.” Freon was replaced in January 2020 with Puron or R410A, which has demonstrated no harmful effects on the ozone.

Puron is an ideal replacement for Freon, because it has superior cooling and dehumidifying properties.

Although refrigerant is usually permanent, there are some circumstances that call for replacing it (also known as recharging). Here are several scenarios that indicate that your air conditioner needs coolant.

1. Ducts are Blowing Hot Air

This is one of the most common signs of low refrigerant. When your thermostat is properly set on “cool” but the air is room temperature or hotter, this could indicate that the coolant is low or has escaped.

2. Ice or Frost

Functional refrigerant lines smoothly carry heat outside of your house. However, when insufficient coolant is circulating, the evaporator coils become excessively cold, changing the refrigerant from a gas into a cold liquid. Then condensation accumulates, freezing the lines or coils. Since the compressor is not designed to handle liquids, it can be ruined when it tries to compress them. A knowledgeable Progressive Air Systems technician can determine exactly what is causing this problem, or any related one, efficiently and accurately.

3. You Hear Dripping or See Water Pooling Near Your HVAC

When ice or frost forms on the refrigerant lines because of low temperatures, it will eventually melt and drip. If you hear dripping or see puddles near your AC Unit, a refrigerant line malfunction is probably the culprit. Although a little wetness may seem insignificant, it may cause your entire system to fail.

4. You Hear Hissing

Refrigerant lines are highly pressurized, so this causes coolant leaks to make a sound. When coolant escapes as a gas through a small crack or hole, the force of it escaping makes a shrill hiss. However, if you hear a bubbling or gurgling sound, this indicates that it is escaping as a liquid through a larger hole or crack.

Be assured that our technicians don’t repeatedly visit you to keep replacing coolant. This is an unethical tactic that many less-than-honest companies use to make more money from their clients. A Progressive Air Systems technician will always find the source of the leak and fix that first. They will only add new refrigerant after the cause of the problem has been resolved.

5. Chemical Odors

Like natural gas, Puron is an aroma-free chemical that’s had an odor added to detect leaks. It has been variously described as smelling faintly sweet, or ether-like, or acidic. These odors could indicate that there is a problem with your coolant.

6. High Energy Bills

When there is a problem with refrigerant, your air conditioner will run continuously as it struggles to reach the thermostat setting. An air conditioner that does not cycle can saddle you with a huge energy bill. This could be a shock when you receive your bill, especially if you do not have any appliances that are energy drainers.

Low refrigerant can also cause your system to short cycle. Short cycling is when an air conditioner repeatedly turns on and off too frequently, never achieving a full cooling cycle. Each time it cycles on and off, it devours electricity and can drive your energy bills sky high.

7. Higher Humidity in Your Home

Refrigerant not only cools your home, but it helps to lower its humidity. When coolant is lacking, it can trigger uncomfortably high humidity, and it can foster the growth of mold and mildew, as well. With the current COVID situation, it is also extremely important for your house to have the proper humidity since the virus flourishes in extremely high and extremely low humidity environments. Ideally, your home’s humidity level should be around 45 percent. If it is over 50 percent, it is too high. If it is less than 30 percent, it is too dry.

During our hot, muggy Florida summer months, it’s vital to have a functional air conditioner. Without refrigerant, or the proper levels of it, your AC Unit may fail, at the worst time of the year for a breakdown. Progressive Air Systems’ trained technicians can accurately diagnose your air conditioner’s malfunction, locate any leak, repair it and recharge your system with the appropriate amount of coolant.

Contact us today so you can stay cool and comfortable and make dreading your energy bills a thing of the past.