Air conditioning is one of the most useful conveniences of the modern era, but when you own an HVAC system, your work can feel like it’s never really over. HVAC systems need to be properly taken care of, and any of their parts may be prone to malfunctions or wear and tear over time. The question is, which of the components in your system are significant enough to require regular attention, and which can get by with less frequent checks or maintenance? Knowing this is a crucial part of saving valuable time when it comes to keeping your A/C in good shape.
Let’s examine one of the most innocuous parts of any HVAC system: the air conditioner service valve. For the uninitiated, this component may seem relatively minor compared to some of the more prominent parts of your air conditioner. However, it fulfils an important purpose. When you’re doing routine maintenance on your unit by yourself, you probably won’t need to spend much time with your service valve. Any technician you call for assistance will be interested in it because the service valve is what allows a tech to take refrigerant out of your unit without removing the entire system charge.
The refrigerant is what allows your HVAC to produce a cooling effect, transferring heat to the air outside your home. Without this chemical, there is no such thing as air conditioning—it’s as simple as that. During routine maintenance many technicians will need to remove refrigerant from your system. This is because the level of refrigerant in an HVAC system is critical to maintaining its efficiency and operating it safely. Too much refrigerant results in a condition called “overcharging” which can damage the compressor in an air conditioner and result in expensive long-term problems with the unit. Refrigerant may also leak slowly from a unit, in which case the leak will need to be stopped, and the refrigerant topped up.
So, how important is your service valve exactly? Think of it as the air valve on any of the tires used by your car. A good valve needs to be thoroughly sealed at all times unless it’s connected to something that requires it to be open. In the case of HVAC service valves, this usually comes in the form of one of the hoses your technician carries with them. These hoses run from the service valves to various gauges, which are used to measure your refrigerant levels via their pressure.
The biggest trouble you can run into with your service valve is leakage. Coolant can leak from various places in your HVAC system, but while many people check their hoses and flare connections on a regular basis, fewer pay attention to the valve itself. Many people probably assume that since the valves are usually handled by technicians, they can be taken for granted—however, this isn’t always the case. Most service professionals are testing for specific problems, and if you tell them your service valve is fine then a leak there could go overlooked.
Even if refrigerant leakage doesn’t damage your compressor, it can still end up costing you a lot more than the price of your average service valve. That’s because having the incorrect levels of refrigerant in your system accounts for more efficiency losses and part failures than any other HVAC problem. If you’ve checked your hoses and you still think you’re losing refrigerant, don’t pay overly expensive utility bills while you wait for the problem to get worse. Hire someone to look at your existing one.
The good news is that service valves aren’t very expensive. A trained HVAC service technician can get your new valve in place without much trouble though, or even fix a poorly adjusted old one to get it working properly.
Having an air conditioner doesn’t need to be a lot of maintenance, but you’ll find that doing the work and keeping your parts up to date make it well worth the effort. Pay attention to the details, occasionally have professionals come in to help you, and you’ll find that your system uses energy efficiently while staying safe and keeping you cool. Small parts like your service valve might be easy to overlook, but they play a major role in your system. Treat them with respect, and your system will treat you to well-deserved comfort. Contact us for more information.