It’s a fact that over time air conditioning units won’t function like they used to if they’re not well taken care of. Like most appliances and machines, prioritizing their maintenance is crucial. That’s why it’s important to understand how certain issues like overcharging can occur.
There are a variety of AC problems you could run into as a homeowner that are the result of a refrigerant dilemma. When dealing with one of these issues, experts urge homeowners to have the unit recharged. Remember that without it, your system won’t be able to produce enough cool air, as the refrigerant is what absorbs the heat. If these signs have been noticeable recently, consider recharging as soon as possible:
- Leaks. This is one of the most obvious signs you’ll notice. You need to ensure that your unit has no sign of greasy film. If there is any, it’s guaranteed that your residential or commercial AC unit has leaks. Immediately ask for the help from an air conditioning service provider to locate the source and have them sealed after cleaning.
- Loss of cooling capability. Keep in mind that the main purpose and advantage of an air conditioner is that it keeps you cool when temperatures rise. Because the refrigerant ensures that the air blown out of the AC is cold, it must be kept at an optimal level to maintain the pressurized air circulation.
- Faulty thermostat. Similar to your heating system, make it a habit to check the thermostat for your AC and try to reset it. Monitor for any changes, and keep in mind that a defective thermostat can also confirm low refrigerant.
When put under different states of compression refrigerant undergoes extreme temperature changes. This allows heat pumps and air conditioners to produce cold air. Unlike fuel, refrigerants are not consumable. As long as the AC unit has the right amount of charge, it will provide cooling as needed. However, as mentioned, an AC system may lose its charge through leaks in the refrigerant line, increasing the workload on the system. In addition to increased wear and a higher risk of failure, problems like freezing coils may also occur.
This is why inspections and charging the refrigerant should be a top priority. However, an overcharged air conditioning unit is just as concerning as one that needs more refrigerant. To help you out, here are the common signs for which to look:
Signs of an Overcharged HVAC System
- High energy consumption. This could be one of the most noticeable signs to ever appear. The elevated pressure exerted by excess refrigerant will throw the cooling cycle out of sync, resulting in increased strain on the air conditioning system. This will prompt a sudden surge in energy consumption.
- Extreme cold. Experts say that excess refrigerant in an overcharged residential or commercial AC unit will collect inside the compressor and cause subcooling, resulting in extremely cold temperatures that can reach sub-zero levels, Air conditioners aren’t designed to handle sub-zero temperatures. This, along with the risk of excess refrigerant flooding into the electronics, can cause significant and extensive defects.
- Erratic behavior. The strain caused by excess refrigerant is anticipated to lead to random shutdowns, as well as squealing noises coming from the outdoor unit and warm air coming through the vents indoors.
What Happens When You Overcharge Your Air Conditioning Unit?
As stated earlier, the dilemma with filling your air conditioner with too much refrigerant is that it won’t be able to adequately switch between its gaseous and liquid states, resulting in inefficient cooling. It will also increase the pressure inside the air conditioner, forcing the compressor to work twice as hard as it needs to. This puts significant strain on the system, causing your air conditioner to wear out more quickly.
Liquid refrigerant leaking into the compressor is also a problem associated with overcharging. This will result in your compressor eventually burning out as the refrigerant mixes with the oil. As this occurs, the compressor will eventually fail, which will cost you more than calling an expert in heating and cooling systems to fix it.
Don’t forget that your equipment can end up with excess refrigerant should inexperienced personnel overcharge it. That’s why homeowners should be reminded that refrigerant isn’t like fuel that can be topped off–-a common misconception that many amateurs have. What can you expect when overcharging occurs?
- Inefficient equipment. Because too much refrigerant can increase the pressure on your equipment, it can be expected to make your AC inefficient. Experts recommend contacting your local HVAC technician if you notice that there’s been an increase in your energy bills or that your equipment isn’t cooling your spaces properly.
- Compressor issues. Slugging occurs when excess refrigerant in a liquid state floods into the compressor’s cylinders. This leads to damaged valves, faulty connecting rods and other major compressor dilemmas. The liquid refrigerant will leak into the crankcase oil, increasing the crankcase pressure. Over time, slugging will result in compressor motor burnout, which means you’ll need to replace the entire system.
What Else Should You Do?
Not only is overcharging potentially dangerous, but an overcharged system also won’t be efficient. This could eventually cause critical damage to your unit’s compressor or other component parts. If your air conditioner or heat pump is exhibiting any of the signs mentioned above, turn it off from the circuit breaker and get in touch with your local HVAC technician.
While it’s proven that overcharging can easily be avoided by having a certified technician recharge your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, always call and hire a trusted licensed company. In addition to calculating the correct refrigerant level and restoring its charge, they’ll also perform repairs based on how severe the damage caused by overcharging is.
Do you have particular HVAC concerns such as air duct sealing? We have the tools, equipment and experience to help with your air comfort needs. Let the experts at Acker Heating & Cooling keep your HVAC system running at peak performance year-round. Call (706) 989-6663 or fill out our contact form today, and be sure to ask us about our financing options, as well.