Why Overcharged Refrigerant Is Bad for Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioners must maintain an appropriate refrigerant “charge” in order to operate efficiently. In today’s post, local plumber and HVAC contractor McLay discusses why keeping the right amount of refrigerant charge in the air conditioning system is important.

It Needs to Be Just Right

Unlike fuel, HVAC refrigerant isn’t consumable. Depending on the state of compression it’s in, refrigerant can become very hot or very cold. This is how air conditioners and heat pumps generate hot and cold air. HVAC systems need to be charged to a certain level, which is l prescribed by the manufacturer. Undercharging an air conditioner—whether due to leaks or incorrect charging—will increase the workload on the air conditioning system, resulting in frozen coils and even premature failure if the problem isn’t addressed in time.

What Happens When the HVAC System Is Overcharged?

Charging the refrigerant, like installing a cold climate tankless water heater, is best left to licensed HVAC technicians. Overcharging happens when someone, typically a DIYer or someone unfamiliar with the process, puts in too much refrigerant. We can’t stress enough the importance of charging the right amount of refrigerant. After all, overcharging doesn’t equal more cooling.

We in the industry often refer to refrigerant as the “lifeblood” of HVAC systems, which is functionally closer to the truth than it sounds. An undercharged HVAC system can be the equivalent of an anemic person, while an overcharged one is like someone with elevated blood pressure.

In the latter scenario, the excess refrigerant will collect inside the compressor and lead to subcooling, or temperatures several degrees below what the HVAC system is designed to handle. This can lead to damage to the air conditioning system down the road, as well as an increase in energy bills.

What You Should Do If You Have an Undercharged HVAC System?

If you notice any of the above signs with your HVAC system, get in touch with a local certified HVAC technician, like one of those at McLay Services. We can determine the correct refrigerant level for your air conditioner and restore its regular charge. We may also conduct repairs if there are any damages that are the result of under or overcharging.

Call McLay for Your Heating & Cooling Needs

If you have problems like refrigerant leaks or outdoor tankless water heater freezing, call McLay at (909) 392-2202. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve customers in La Verne and the surrounding communities.