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Adding Freon to Your AC is not a DIY Project
Perhaps you’re really handy around the house, and enjoy taking on fix-it projects. Adding refrigerant to your HVAC system – what we call a “shot of Freon” – is definitely NOT a do-it-yourself task!
When your air conditioner is low on Freon, it means this colorless gas is leaking out from somewhere in the system (see Causes of Refrigerant Leaks). Typically, you will see ice forming on either the inside or outside unit or both. If this happens you need to turn the HVAC system off completely, wait for it to thaw out, and call an HVAC professional.
Here are just some of the many reasons why you cannot just “add a shot of Freon” to your AC yourself:
- Possessing most refrigerants – which are toxic chemicals - requires a special EPA 608 certification, which typically only licensed HVAC contractors can get. It is unlawful to possess HVAC refrigerants without such a license. If you find a seller that will sell directly to a consumer and does not ask for your 608 certification, then you should be suspicious that what they’re selling is counterfeit (see our post Fighting Back Against Fake Refrigerants).
- There are now many different type of refrigerants on the market and each unit will work with only a certain type. Putting the wrong type of refrigerant in your unit will damage the unit, and could also cause significant hazard to you! Furthermore, as one refrigerant (R-22) has been phased out of production, other refrigerants may be used in its place, but may require certain updates to your system in order to do so. You cannot assume that a supposedly “equivalent” product is compatible with your system.
- To replace the leaky part or to update the refrigerant, the “old” refrigerant needs to be evacuated first. But this cannot be done simply by exhausting it into the air (it is unlawful to do so)! It must be captured into a special pressurized container so it can be recycled. Keep in mind that refrigerants are gasses at room temperature, and are compressed under extraordinary pressures in order to liquefy. Special gear is required to diagnose where the leak is, and to evacuate the old refrigerant and fill with new refrigerant. Purchasing the appropriate gauges, diagnostic equipment, and pressurized vessels would exceed the cost of the service call.
- Depending on the source and extent of the leak, it may be better and more cost-efficient to replace the entire unit, rather than to continue to fill it with Freon that will only leak out again in a short time. Sure, the cost to repair or replace your system may be higher than simply adding another "shot of Freon," but not addressing the cause of the leak causes recurring expenses that will only escalate. For example, recharging the system several times could cause the oil in the compressor to deplete enough to damage the compressor, and then you may require a major, really expensive repair!
Are You Cost-Conscious?
The bottom line is this: if you’re cost conscious, then the best “bargain” is calling an HVAC professional when your system needs a shot of Freon.
If you live in the Nashville area, call Interstate AC Service at 615-832-8500. We'll help you with whatever ails your HVAC system.