Home Improvement

How To Identify That Your AC’s Refrigerant Level Is Low

Air conditioners utilize refrigerants to produce cool air. If you observe that the air conditioner is taking longer than usual to cool down the room or simply isn’t throwing cool air, it might be due to the refrigerant level being low, and it can be refilled by technicians from air conditioning companies. First, we will explain the causes of low refrigerant levels, and then we will show some ways to identify a low AC refrigerant level.

Causes Of A Low Refrigerant Level

Flawed/Incorrect Installation

Believe it or not, incorrect installations are one of the biggest reasons for AC refrigerant level being low. Since the air conditioning unit uses the refrigerant to absorb heat and produce a cooling effect, an incorrect installation might lead to a leak somewhere not allowing the condenser to function normally. This is mostly due to amateur technicians working on your unit who are not aware of the AC installation basics.


Although air conditioning components are rigid and tough, that does not mean leaks are impossible. Leaks can happen due to external factors such as something damaging the pipes or simply due to old age. Compressor and condenser leaks are quite common amongst old units and usually take place when components are worn out. As a result, the joints become weak and allow the gas to escape.

A Neglected System

An air conditioning unit that is not properly maintained will have low refrigerant levels. Some homeowners neglect annual maintenance and keep using the unit without refrigerant for long hours. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the compressor as well as the condenser leading to its failure as well. This is why experts suggest that the air conditioning unit is maintained so that the potential problems can be identified beforehand.

Signs Of A Low Refrigerant Level

Higher Than Normal Energy Bills

As mentioned earlier, low refrigerant levels will force your air conditioning unit to work hard and will keep it under continuous stress. As a result, in an attempt to maintain the temperature, the unit will utilize more power leading to higher than normal energy bills. Not only that, the compressor and condenser will heat up during the process and might even fail.

In simple words, the unit cannot function normally without an appropriate refrigerant level. Low refrigerant levels mean that the unit has to cycle several times to attain the desired temperature.

Takes Longer To Cool Your Home

If you observe that it is taking longer than usual to cool your room or house, it might be due to a low refrigerant level. If you notice that the compressor turns on but the unit is not throwing cool air, then you should know that there is probably a leak in the system.

Plus, if you observe that the compressor is continuously turning on or off, the refrigerant level might be low. However, before you conclude, you should consider the type, age, and size of the HVAC unit. Older units are more vulnerable to even the slightest problems as compared to newer ones.

Ice On Refrigerant Lines

While annual maintenance is one thing, experts suggest that you walk around the unit to inspect it for problems. While inspecting, if you observe that there is ice formation on the refrigerant lines, you should know that the refrigerant level is at its lowest. This is where you call a technician and get the unit checked. Ice formation is not a normal occurrence amongst air conditioners and is usually a sign of a problem.

Hissing Sound

A leaking refrigerant usually produces a hissing sound. Depending on the size of the leak, the noise might be very low or high. In some cases, you have to bring your ears quite close to the unit to hear it properly. In other cases, it will be loud enough for you to hear from a normal distance. Catching such leaks can help you avoid expensive repairs down the road.

Final Word

Concluding, identifying the low refrigerant level of your air conditioning unit is fairly simple and easy. Your air conditioner should not take long to reach the adjusted temperature. If the refrigerant level is low, you should immediately call an AC repair service Fairfax to come have a look.

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