Low refrigerant levels in your air-conditioning (A/C) unit create a domino effect of decreased cooling efficiency and potential damage to your A/C. Low refrigerant levels can be due to a leak in your refrigerant line. However, there’s another scary, potentially lethal reason for low refrigerant levels: huffing. This is a process whereby an individual removes the cap to your outdoor unit’s refrigerant lines, and then intentionally inhales or huffs the refrigerant’s vapors.
Your air conditioner could be at risk when it has low refrigerant levels, without you even knowing it. Here are a few surefire signs that your system might have low refrigerant levels:
- Unusually and suddenly high energy bills
- A decrease in home comfort
- Visible tampering with your A/C’s outdoor unit
The only way to check your A/C system’s refrigerant is to have a professional HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractor inspect and test your A/C system and its refrigerant levels. If your technician doesn’t find any leaks in the refrigerant lines, then it’s likely that someone is huffing your system’s refrigerant.
Effects of low refrigerant on your air conditioner
To be sure, knowing when your system’s refrigerant charge becomes low is paramount. Low refrigerant can result in:
- Increased pressure on the compressor as it operates
- Increased energy consumption by your A/C system
- Reduced capacity by your A/C to produce cooled air
- Higher energy bills
In fact, experts estimate that if an air conditioner loses just 10 percent of its refrigerant charge, it will lead to as much as a 20 percent increase in energy consumption, ultimately costing you that much more to operate your air conditioner.
Effects of huffing refrigerant
Huffing refrigerant also has a significant impact on the person who does it. Generally, the people who engage in huffing have no clue as to the repercussions of doing so. At worst, huffing can cause death and brain damage, in addition to high blood pressure and burning in the eyes, mouth and nose.
Solving low refrigerant problems due to huffing is easy. Once your contractor tests your system’s airflow, he or she can install a safety cap on the refrigerant valve that locks. It’s similar to a locking gas cap for your car.
For more information about low refrigerant, or any other cooling concerns in the Greater Tucson area, contact Rite Way Ventilating Co. today! Proudly serving residential and commercial customers since 1959.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about refrigerant and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.