Bigham’s One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning receives calls year-round from residents in the Bay Area asking about why their air conditioners are failing. A common problem is a lack of refrigerant, and a quick solution would be to recharge the AC with more.

Common Questions Regarding Your AC

At Bigham’s One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, our technicians receive several questions about their AC systems, including:

  • Why is my air conditioner not cooling my home like it used to?
  • Why has my central air conditioner stopped blowing cold air altogether?

The answer to these questions could be from a lack of refrigerant, but it is also important to check other components of your air conditioner before making that conclusion.

Before you have a contractor come and recharge your refrigerant with R-410A or Freon (R-22), you should make sure they perform routine maintenance to ensure they are covering all the bases.

What’s Included in Routine AC Maintenance

We recommend an air conditioning tune up once per year, preferably in spring before the arrival of warm weather. Some of the items we check during an AC tune up include:

  • Replacing the air filter
  • Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils – dirty coils can cause problems very similar to an air conditioner with low refrigerant.
  • Checking the air handler, blower fan and condenser fan
  • Checking your refrigerant levels
  • Searching for leaks

When you perform an unnecessary recharge, it can lead to the following consequences.

  • Overcharging your refrigerant can destroy your central AC’s compressor
  • The air conditioner can break down completely
  • You run the risk of warming your coils, and the suction side pressure will run too high
  • Unexpected condensation or frosting may occur

It is also important to know that a recharge is rare. Refrigerant does not just run out; it is not consumed when you use your central air conditioner. If you do need a recharge, the conclusion is that there’s a leak somewhere. You will need a licensed HVAC professional to help you find the leak and recharge your AC.

Most refrigeration companies will not sell refrigerant to unlicensed professionals. If the problem is related to a refrigerant leak, you need to call a technician.

How Can I Tell If I Need More Refrigerant in My Home’s Air Conditioner?

Here are signs that indicate your HVAC unit is low on refrigerant.

  • House takes forever to cool off
  • Ice build up on the evaporator coils
  • Air conditioner runs much longer than usual
  • Water accumulates on the floor by your furnace due to condensation
  • Supply ducts are blowing hot air even when your central air conditioner is running, and your thermostat is set to cool

How to Add Refrigerant to a Home’s AC Unit

The process of recharging your AC can be very technical, and we highly recommend having a professional HVAC technician perform this task for you. This process also requires the right equipment and refrigerant that might not be available for purchase.

Newer air conditioning systems use a refrigerant called R-410A, which is more energy efficient and doesn’t contain ozone-depleting qualities. It’s important to note that the production and import of HCFC-22 – more commonly known as R-22 refrigerant or Freon – was banned by the United States Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 1, 2020. R-22 is commonly used in air conditioning systems built before 2010. Systems manufactured after 2009 do not use R-22.

Although the production and import of R-22 has stopped, you are not required to buy new equipment or even stop using R-22. However, R-22 supplies are diminishing, and the cost to service equipment with R-22 will rise. If you have an older system that uses R-22, now is a great time to upgrade to a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioning unit.

How Much Does It Cost to Add Refrigerant to a Home Air Conditioner?

Most homeowners will pay about $150 for a refrigerant refill, depending on the size and make of their HVAC system. The exact cost will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The season
  • How many pounds of refrigerant your system needs
  • The climate you live in. For example, California’s demand is higher due to ongoing hot climate
  • How much the supplier charges

Contact Bigham’s for Your Home’s AC Needs

Call Bigham’s One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning if you suspect that your air conditioner might be low on refrigerant. If it’s a leak, we will locate it and fix it. Significant leaks can be expensive, and if the unit is old, then a replacement should be considered as a more affordable and efficient option.

Bigham’s One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning provides AC services for all of the Bay Area, including the cities of San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose, Oakland, Concord, Santa Rosa and many more! Contact Bigham’s today at 707-703-5795.