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When Do Air Conditioners Require More Refrigerant?

Serving Families Throughout Dallas
technician checking refrigerant levels

All central air conditioning systems contain refrigerant. The refrigerant allows the system to remove heat from your home's air to make it feel colder. If your AC is struggling to provide your home with conditioned air, there may be a problem with your system's refrigerant.


So, where exactly is the refrigerant, and how does it function in your air conditioner? Your AC's refrigerant travels between the indoor evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser unit. In the evaporator coils, it absorbs heat from the circulated air, and in the condenser coils, it's cooled down so that can it return to the evaporator coil and continue to condition your home's air.


Unfortunately, there could come a time when you don't have adequate refrigerant for the cooling process to occur. Below are the two most common scenarios.

Refrigerant Leaks

The refrigerant line can leak as a result of the metal eroding over time. The leaks will start small, but eventually, you'll feel the impact as your AC struggles to cool your home. You may hear an unusually loud whistling or hissing noise while the AC is in operation. Moreover, you'll experience:

  • Less than optimal cooling performance

  • Higher humidity levels indoors

  • A spike in your energy bills

An Undercharged System

When your system was installed, the contractor may not have followed the manufacturer's specifications and put in too little refrigerant. An improper charge, or amount of refrigerant, can cause problems. A low charge could lead to frozen evaporator coils and lukewarm cooling. As for a high charge, it could result in the unit overheating and shutting down. An error like this is just one of the reasons why it's critical to hire reputable, seasoned, licensed HVAC professionals to handle your heating and cooling equipment.


Some dishonest HVAC technicians will tell you that refrigerant must be "topped off," as if it were a fuel that's consumed as the AC runs. Short of a leak, refrigerant levels will always be the same. This scam allows these technicians to return to your home over and over to "refill" your refrigerant and keep collecting your money without truly fixing your system's problem.

What you want, then, is for a technician to either tell you there's a leak and then fix it or explain that the system is undercharged and then fill it to the right level. Some contractors may recommend the temporary solution of adding refrigerant to a leaking line, especially if you plan to replace your AC soon, but this would be unwise. Refrigerant leaks are harmful to the environment, particularly if it’s the now outdated R-22 refrigerant (commonly known as Freon).

At Rescue Air and Plumbing, we will always provide you with options for your AC system with your best interests at heart. For professional AC repairs, give us a call today: (972) 201-3253.