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ac freon recharge

We often take air conditioners and their maintenance for granted until the heat of summer comes and we feel warm air blowing out of our vents. Pair that with the high humidity in Ohio and it can make for some uncomfortable living situations.

What is Freon?

Freon is a non-combustible gas that is used as a refrigerant (sometimes also called a coolant) in air conditioners. Through a repeated evaporation process, the Freon is responsible for creating the cool air that is circulated through your air conditioning system.

How do I know if my AC needs Freon?

Homeowners can look for several signs that may indicate a potential freon leak:

Reduced Cooling Performance:

A noticeable decrease in the cooling effectiveness of the AC system may suggest a refrigerant leak. If the air coming from the vents is not as cold as usual, it’s worth investigating the possibility of a freon issue.

Hissing or Bubbling Sounds:

If you hear hissing or bubbling sounds near the indoor or outdoor unit of the AC system, it could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. The sound may be caused by the pressurized refrigerant escaping from the system.

Ice Buildup on the Refrigerant Line or Coils:

Refrigerant leaks can cause the temperature of the refrigerant lines and coils to drop excessively, leading to the formation of ice on these components. If you notice ice accumulation on the refrigerant line or coils, it may indicate a freon leak.

Visible Refrigerant Stains:

Inspect the area around the AC unit for any signs of refrigerant stains or oil. Refrigerant is typically mixed with oil in the system, and a leak may leave oily residue or stains on components such as pipes, coils, or the unit itself.

Unusual Odors:

Freon has a distinct, sweet smell. While freon itself is colorless and odorless, the addition of a scent for detection purposes may produce a noticeable odor if there’s a leak. If you detect an unusual smell near the AC unit, it’s advisable to investigate further.

High Electricity Bills:

A freon leak can lead to decreased efficiency, causing the AC system to work harder to cool the air. This increased workload can result in higher electricity bills. If you notice a significant and unexplained spike in energy costs, it might be related to an efficiency issue.

You shouldn’t need refrigerant refilled on a regular basis unless you have a Freon leak. In which case, continuous refills may not be the best solution long-term.

READ MORE: When to fix your freon leak

Testing for leaking freon

If you’re losing freon from your ac unit, then you have a leak in the system. Most often an HVAC technician will advise that you need to find the source of the leak in order to stop the recharged refrigerant from simply just leaking out again. There are certain situations, though, where a leak search may not make sense.

System Integrity: Older AC units may have components that are more susceptible to damage, and conducting a leak test could potentially cause more harm than good. For example, applying pressure during a leak test might stress fragile components, leading to further leaks or system damage.

Cost Considerations: Conducting a leak search takes time and comes with additional costs. In some cases, technicians and homeowners might choose not to invest in finding leaks in an aging system and instead opt for a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly replacement. Finding and filling a leak in a unit that will not last much longer just doesn’t make for a good return on investment.

Freon Cost Per Pound

Freon costs fluctuate frequently and the type of refrigerant you have in your air conditioner also plays a big role in the cost as well as your location throughout the country.

In the Cincinnati, OH area, the price for a lb of R22 refrigerant can is anywhere from $350-$450 per pound.

R410A refrigerant, which is the main type being used in AC systems since 2010, is much cheaper. The freon price for R22 is only about $200-$250 per pound to refill.

Each cooling company can decide what they’d like to charge for Freon, but these fairly average prices across the industry for southwest Ohio.

READ MORE: How to know type of refrigerant your AC uses

Why is R22 refrigerant so expensive?

Older AC units often use refrigerants such as R-22, which began phasing out in 2020 due to its environmental impact. The production and import of R-22 have been decreasing, making it more expensive and harder to obtain. Newer AC units use more environmentally friendly refrigerants, such as R-410A.

Total cost to refill refrigerant

The total price you will pay to get your system up and cooling again depends on the amount of Freon you need refilled. Your HVAC technician will be able to determine how many pounds of refrigerant you need recharged into your system. Freon prices are typically per pound. To get your AC back to blowing cool air you could need as little as half a pound or as much as even 7-10 lbs. depending on the size of your system. Of course, the bigger the recharge you need, the less cost effective it becomes versus replacing the AC unit entirely.

Since refrigerant is a toxic substance, it also has to be discarded of properly and according to government guidelines. This will also usually add a freon recovery and disposal cost to your overall HVAC ticket.

Is it safe to DIY a Freon recharge for your home AC?

The short answer is no. Although recharging your car’s air conditioning can be a somewhat simple process, working with HVAC refrigerants is very dangerous.  The EPA specifically recommends not replacing refrigerant yourself for a number of reasons, including both health and environmental issues. Anyone working with air conditioning refrigerant must be EPA licensed to legally reclaim or recharge Freon.

Freon recharge service for AC

If you’re near the Cincinnati area and you think your air conditioning system may need a refrigerant refill, give Quality Comfort a call at 513-620-4822 or book service online any time.  If the HVAC technician diagnoses that you do need refrigerant, the Freon cost will be provided for your approval before performing any work.