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Too Much Refrigerant in an AC Is a Problem Too

compressor-in-ac-unitWe’ve written a number of times about the troubles an air conditioning system will run into when it loses its refrigerant charge because of leaks. When leaks are left unrepaired, an undercharged refrigerant will not only lose cooling power, it will eventually break down from a burnt-out compressor. At the first sign of an AC running a reduced refrigerant charge, call a Trinity, FL air conditioning contractor to look at the system and get it fixed.

But this problem happens in reverse as well. A central air conditioning system is designed to operate at a specific refrigerant charge and pressure. If there is too much refrigerant in the system, the AC is in danger—the same danger of a catastrophic compressor breakdown.

How would an AC get extra refrigerant?

It’s easy to understand how an air conditioner becomes undercharged: leaks. But how does extra refrigerant get in there?

The answer: amateurs. There are many reasons you must never call on a non-professional to either repair or install your air conditioner. One is that an amateur may easily make the mistake of overcharging the AC with refrigerant. This can be a measurement mistake or a basic misunderstanding that refrigerant isn’t a fuel that can be “topped off.” An AC might be installed with the wrong charge or have the incorrect charge put in after a shoddy leak repair.

The problems with too much refrigerant

A refrigerant overcharge alters the pressure inside the air conditioner and puts the compressor in danger.

The Compressor: Excess refrigerant creates a danger called slugging. This is when extra refrigerant floods into the piston cylinders of the compressor when in a liquid state. Slugging can create many different problems such as broken valves, broken connecting rods, and significant damage to the compressor. The liquid refrigerant entering the compressor will fall directly into the crankcase oil, which raises the crankcase pressure. Eventually, slugging will cause complete compressor motor burnout—and that often means the whole AC must be replaced.

Pressure: A rise in pressure in the refrigerant may not cause immediate problems, but it will make the AC less energy efficient because it won’t cool the house as effectively. (Yes, it sounds strange that more refrigerant would cause less cooling, but this is the mistake amateurs often make that causes them to overcharge an air conditioner in the first place.) When you notice a decline in cooling power and more expensive bills when the AC is running, we recommend calling in professionals right away. They’ll check refrigerant pressure to find out if the system is overcharged or undercharged. If it’s overcharged, the technicians will bleed out the extra amount to stop the problem. They’ll also inspect the compressor and other components to see if the rest of the AC has suffered any damage.

The Professional Difference

You don’t have to worry about making the diagnosis of an overcharged air conditioner on your own. When you suspect something is wrong, have our licensed experts on the job—they will discover what’s causing the problem and find the best remedy.

If you need AC repairs, call on the team at Balanced Air, Inc. Experience the Balanced Air difference!

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