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To most people, it seems like common sense that their air conditioner’s refrigerant would need to be recharged every once in a while, and people often jump to the conclusion that a low charge is to blame for air conditioner maintenance issues. In fact, an air conditioner should almost never need to be recharged.

When does an air conditioning system need R-22 or R-410a?

An air conditioner’s refrigerant runs in a closed system. It is constantly reused and doesn’t wear out. Under normal operation, there should be no way for the refrigerant to escape into the air or for refrigerant levels to go down.

If an air conditioner has lost cooling power, it is likely that the cause is something other than low refrigerant. If the refrigerant is low, there’s a leak in the system that needs to be repaired. Never ask for or allow a refrigerant recharge if the HVAC contractor hasn’t also identified and repaired the leak that caused the levels to drop in the first place.

R-22 Phaseout

You may have heard that R-22 refrigerant is being phased out for environmental reasons. While nationwide R-22 usage is being reduced, older air conditioners are grandfathered in. You are under no obligation to change to a different refrigerant type, and it may not even be possible for your air conditioner to handle a different type of refrigerant.

If your air conditioner uses R-22 and does develop a leak, there is no need to replace your air conditioner if it doesn’t otherwise make sense to do so. R-22 can be used to service existing air conditioners until at least 2020, and recycled R-22 should be available for a number of years beyond that.

To learn more about your air conditioning maintenance needs, visit our air conditioner services page or call 847-388-0108.

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