You may have already heard the news about Freon. This common air conditioning refrigerant, which has been found to deplete the earth’s ozone layer, is gradually being phased out. As of January 1, 2020, the sale of Freon (also known as R-22 refrigerant) is banned in Canada. (It’s still legal to use existing Freon in Brampton, though, for the time being.)
You’re probably wondering how the phaseout will affect you. How long will the Freon in your AC last?
Average Time Freon Should Last
Theoretically, Freon can last forever. It is not burned up like fuel. When an air conditioning system is in top shape, the refrigerant will be continually recycled within a closed system, to cool your home.
However, as the AC tubing ages and wears out, it tends to develop leaks in the system. The result? Your air conditioner’s Freon level will start to drop.
Signs Your Refrigerant Is Low
In many cases, a refrigerant leak is simple to fix… when it is caught early enough. Watch out for these warning signs that you might be low on Freon:
1. Electric bills are higher than usual (meaning your AC is working harder than normal).
2. Air conditioner is blowing out hot, rather than cold, air.
3. Heavy condensation forms on the system.
4. The indoor AC coil has a buildup of frost.
5. You hear strange hissing or bubbling from the refrigerant lines.
Signs You Have A Leak
Do you smell something bad, like vehicle coolant, coming from your air conditioner? You may have a leak.
If your cooling system is not functioning optimally, first do a little DIY maintenance. Change or clean your air filter, remove any debris or vegetation that’s clogging the outside AC unit, and clean the coils and fins.
After this, if you are still experiencing problems, it’s time for a professional leak inspection. What does this involve?
An HVAC tech will check out your air conditioning system in detail — including the thermostat, filter, indoor and outdoor units – before measuring Freon level with a tool called an AC manifold gauge. All this is necessary to make sure that a refrigerant leak is indeed the culprit.
The next step is to pinpoint the exact location of the leak, with the help of either a bubbling agent, UV dye, or special electronic equipment.
Now you’re faced with an important decision. Is it worth getting the leak repaired? Or would you be better off replacing your air conditioner at this time?
Consider these factors:
Age of your AC. Air conditioners have a service life of approximately 10-15 years. If yours is getting on in years, it might not be worth investing in leak repair.
Frequency and cost of repairs. Does your unit have a history of needing frequent, expensive fixes? You could actually end up saving money by replacing it, rather than paying for yet another repair.
Scarcity of R-22. As of 2020, there is a ban on using new Freon. Only recycled Freon is allowed, which is likely to grow increasingly scarce and costly.
Energy efficiency. Look at how much the AC is costing you in electricity, as well. How energy efficient is it compared with the most up-to-date air conditioner models?
Count on the team at Dr HVAC to professionally assess your air conditioning and help you make the right decision.