When it comes to cooling your home during a particularly nasty heat wave, it might seem like more is always better. However, this definitely isn't true in the case of A/C refrigerant because an overcharged system runs inefficiently and runs the risks of breaking down completely or even exploding. Watch out for these six signs a technician added a little too much refrigerant during a routine refill. Call for emergency service immediately if you notice the symptoms.
Inflating Energy Bills
Proper annual maintenance should make your air conditioner run more efficiently and lower your electricity bills in the months following the visit. If you notice the opposite is happening instead, consider calling out a different technician to double-check the work. A/Cs with too much refrigerant pumped into the lines convert heat at a much higher temperature than the equipment is designed to handle, so it takes a lot of extra power while producing even less cooled air.
Increasing Heat Discharge
Many homeowners discover their air conditioner is running under dangerously high refrigerant pressure while trimming weeds around the outdoor condenser, or as they simply stroll by it. A blast of extremely hot air discharging from the vents indicates the system is producing extra heat inside the unit. This comes from both the overworked motors and the unnecessary heat produced by overpowered condensing lines.
While this excess heat can also come from dirty air filters and clogged blowers, both of those problems are unlikely if you recently had it serviced. Recent maintenance that included refrigerant charging points to an overfilled system instead.
Developing Frost Layers
Frost is a complicated A/C problem because it has two completely opposite causes. A frozen condenser might arise from low refrigerant levels, but it's also linked to overcharged levels too. Only an inspection from a professional can reveal which problem is behind the wintry conditions.
Squealing from the Compressor
Maintaining the right amount of pressure in the air conditioner lines is crucial because the refrigerant is a liquid that is sprayed as a gas through the compressor. When you pump too much liquid into the pressurized lines, the chemical forces through tiny nozzles and spray hoses while still in liquid form. This does serious damage to most of the moving parts in your air conditioner, creating loud and frightening squealing noises as parts stall and break. Once you get to this symptom, your A/C is going to need costly repairs.
Shutting Down Entirely
Since too much refrigerant does so much damage to the air conditioner, many devices are fitted with safety switches that detect pressure changes and shut the unit off. Your A/C won't switch back on again until a professional has serviced it and manually reset the switch. Even air conditioners without these safety switches can shut down completely when overcharged due to burnt out compressors and other damaged parts.
Measuring Uneven Pressure Levels
Few homeowners own the measurement equipment to check the A/C pressure readings themselves, but any HVAC professional can tell you if your system has a serious pressure imbalance in a few minutes of testing. This is the best way to rule out other common problems and pinpoint an overcharged system is interrupting your climate control. Since refrigerant overcharging causes the same symptoms as many other A/C problems and has such a high damage potential, it's best to pay for an inexpensive testing visit instead of trying to troubleshoot the issue yourself.
Don't wait until tomorrow morning if your air conditioning is only blowing warm air or you hear the compressor squealing. Emergency inspection could save you thousands of dollars in repairs and replacement costs, and it only takes the technician a short time to remove excess refrigerant if they detect a problem. To find a technician, contact a company like Elite Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.