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September 12, 2023

How Often Does Refrigerant Need to Be Added to an HVAC System?

Every homeowner cherishes the comfort and cool breeze their HVAC system provides, especially during those sweltering summer months. Yet, for many, the intricacies of how an HVAC system works remain a mystery. At the heart of this cooling miracle is a substance known as refrigerant. But just how often does this magical coolant need replenishing? Let’s dive deep and uncover the truth.

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The Role of Refrigerant in Your HVAC System

Understanding the Basics The refrigerant is the unsung hero of your HVAC system. Simply put, it’s the substance that cools the air within the unit, ensuring you enjoy a refreshing atmosphere in your home. By transitioning between liquid and gaseous states, the refrigerant absorbs and releases heat, maintaining the desired indoor temperature.

R-22 and R410a Refrigerant Types

  • R-22:  Once the go-to for HVAC systems, R-22 (often referred to as freon) has seen a decrease in use due to its ozone-depleting properties. If your system still uses R-22, you might want to consider an upgrade soon.
  • R410a:  R410a is a more environmentally-friendly alternative to R-22. Besides its green credentials, it’s also known to provide efficient cooling, making it a popular choice among homeowners and professionals alike.

Refrigerant Containers

Tell-Tale Signs Your System Needs More Refrigerant

Frozen AC Units If you’ve ever stumbled upon a frozen AC unit, low refrigerant levels might be the culprit. When there isn’t enough refrigerant, the coil’s temperature can drop, leading to an ice build-up.

Hikes in Electricity Bills Noticed a sudden spike in your electric bill? Insufficient refrigerant might be forcing your HVAC to work overtime, consuming more energy in the process.

Warm Air from Vents Your AC’s primary job is to dispense cool air. If you feel warm air coming out, it’s a red flag that you might be running low on refrigerant.

How Often Should You Refill Refrigerant?

Refrigerants are designed to last the life of your HVAC system. If levels are decreasing, it typically indicates a leak. Ideally, rather than routinely refilling refrigerant, homeowners should identify and fix leaks to ensure the system runs optimally.

Myths and Misconceptions

  • “Refilling Refrigerant Annually is a Must!” This is one of the most common misconceptions. As stated earlier, a well-maintained HVAC system shouldn’t need annual refrigerant top-ups unless there’s a leak.
  • “All Refrigerants Are the Same” False! Each refrigerant type has unique properties, advantages, and disadvantages. It’s crucial to choose the right one for your system.


  • What happens if my HVAC system is low on refrigerant?
    • A system low on refrigerant will struggle to cool your home effectively, potentially leading to higher energy bills and reduced lifespan of the HVAC system.
  • Is R-22 still available?
    • While R-22 is being phased out due to environmental concerns, some suppliers might still stock it. However, it’s more expensive and less eco-friendly than alternatives like R410a.
  • Can I refill the refrigerant myself?
    • It’s always recommended to let a professional handle refrigerant refilling. They’ll ensure the right amount is added and check for leaks or other issues.

Call the Professionals

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Your HVAC system’s refrigerant is crucial for ensuring a cool and comfortable home. While it’s designed to last, any drop in levels indicates an underlying problem, typically a leak. Regular maintenance and understanding your refrigerant type, whether it’s R-22 or R410a, can go a long way in guaranteeing the longevity and efficiency of your HVAC system.

Feeling unsure about your HVAC’s refrigerant levels or suspect there might be a leak? Don’t leave it to chance. Trust the experts at Paschal Air, Plumbing & Electric to ensure your system runs flawlessly. Schedule your appointment today and breathe easy knowing your home is in good hands.