Can we just Add some Freon (refrigerant) to my A/C unit?
In a typical scenario lets say your air conditioner is just not working like it used to. Its older. You do your best, you change the filters “regularly” enough. You begin to wonder…
“Do I need to just have some freon added to the system?”
THE ANSWER: It depends….. Satisfying answer, right? Ok, let me explain further. Refrigerant is not a consumable item. Your Air Conditioning system is NOT designed as an open system. It is made to have the perfect amount of refrigerant added on day one. If it is ‘low’ on refrigerant this typically means one of two things. Either a) it was never charged(added) correctly on day one OR b) it escaped somewhere. Both are NOT positive situations.
Think of your Air Conditioner and it’s freon like you would the oil in your car. This is not a perfect example but bare with me. You should never run low on oil. This would mean that either the mechanic did not put enough in to start OR you have a problem with your engine causing it to burn off or leak out. Just adding some oil does not fix the problem with your engine. Unlike your car’s oil, air conditioning refrigerant should not have to be changed every 3k miles.
Back to the original question. Adding the appropriate amount of refrigerant is the correct move when the system is ‘low’ and no leaks can be found. If the system does have a big leak then the leak should be repaired or replaced first. We cannot simply apply refrigerant (freon) into systems that are leaking. It is poor workmanship on our part as well it then eventually releases into the atmosphere (also a bad deal). Often times significant leaks (which are nearly inevitable) result in changed equipment NOT just adding freon. A fortunate benefit here is that HVAC equipment is becoming more efficient and will provide you the added benefit of lower utilities when better equipment is brought it.