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When your air conditioner turns on, what happens? How does it cool the air? The process is surprisingly simple, and it all hinges on a special chemical called a “refrigerant” that helps pull heat out of the air, making it colder. Many people call this chemical inside their AC “Freon,” although this is technically a brand name that can refer to many different kinds of refrigerants. If you’ve ever encountered problems with your AC in the past, you may have heard others tell you that it needs a “charge” of Freon to make things work properly again.

As we’ll see, such statements can be misleading at best and deceiving at worst. How long does Freon last in your air conditioner? First, it’s helpful to understand what it actually does.


Freon: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Today, a chemical called “Puron” is the preferred type of refrigerant for an AC, rather than Freon, which is more harmful to the environment. Both serve the same purpose. Your air conditioner puts this chemical under a large amount of pressure, forcing it to become a liquid. As it expands inside coils in your home, it absorbs heat and cools the air, which then blows throughout your home. This cycle constantly occurs while your unit operates. Without enough refrigerant, your system can’t work appropriately. So how long does this chemical last before your AC has used it all up, and you need to call a technician for more?


The Reality: Freon is Forever

Air conditioners are closed systems. In other words, under ideal conditions, no refrigerant ever leaves the system — and you shouldn’t need any additional refrigerant, either. Freon never gets “used up” and it never “wears out.” In a perfect world, the refrigerant that an AC unit receives upon its initial installation would be the same refrigerant still in the lines upon its decommissioning. In the past, this was especially important because Freon was a destructive CFC that destroyed ozone in the upper atmosphere. Replacements such as Puron do not seem to have these effects, but still shouldn’t enter the environment unchecked.


Refrigerant Leaks Make AC Freon Seem to Disappear

Unfortunately, everything wears out, and that includes much of the hardware used by your air conditioner. From the coils that compress or expand the refrigerant to the lines that carry it to the different parts of the unit, there are many places where Freon could begin to escape because of a leak. When these components suffer damage or wear out, refrigerant under pressure begins to escape very slowly. Because it’s virtually invisible, it’s tough to see or even hear these leaks happening. Eventually, there isn’t enough left in the unit to properly cool the home, resulting in rising temperatures and frequent complaints.


How to Know When Your AC Needs a “Recharge”

If you notice that hot air blows from your vents or your AC unit seem to run forever without turning off, it’s time to contact a Sonoma county AC company for a diagnostic and repair service. These are usually signs that refrigerant has begun to leak out of your system at some point. The sooner you recognize this issue, the sooner you can have a professional AC repair put in place. Technicians have many techniques they can use, such as ultraviolet dyes, to locate a leak in your system. Once the leak has been found and fixed, the technician can “recharge” the system with an amount of refrigerant equivalent to what was lost to the air. Your unit should then resume normal operation.

Beware of costly services that don’t fix the problem. Remember, although it is tempting to opt for a fast fix that comes at a cut rate, refilling the refrigerant in your system without fixing the leak first won’t save you in the long run. Instead, you’ll repeatedly pay for AC maintenance that doesn’t solve the issue costing you money in the first place.


Find Help with Leaking Refrigerant Today

An air conditioner that doesn’t cool properly or can’t keep up with hot temperatures is extremely frustrating to homeowners. Even worse is the cycle of problems and maintenance that can develop when a refrigerant leak escapes detection or develops slowly over time. Don’t listen to those who tell you that a simple “recharge” will be all you need to fix the issue. That’s true, but only temporarily.

The better option when you’re having issues with your AC Freon is to contact a reputable service provider to examine the health of your entire system. Locating the source of the leak may take a little time, but it is worth the reduced environmental impact and long-term cost savings. If you suspect a problem with your refrigerant, seek professional insight today.