How to Recharge Your Central Air Conditioner

air conditioner repair
    What You'll Need
    Face mask
    Safety glasses
    Freon kit
    Air Conditioner Unit's user manual

    Your central air conditioner works by performing a complex form of heat transfer with the assistance of a chemical refrigerant. When your refrigerant level runs low, the heat transfer does not take place and the unit, while remaining functional and blowing air, will not provide cold air. This is a sign that you should be recharging or refilling the air conditioner.

    Research what kind of refrigerant your unit uses. There are different types and recharging with the wrong one could cause problems much worse than simply not having a charged AC unit. While it is possible to acquire coolant and recharge the unit yourself by purchasing a commercial Freon kit, the rest of the functioning elements of air conditioners can seem dangerous and intimidating to an inexperienced person. If you do not feel comfortable with a project of this magnitude, it’s a good idea to call an air conditioning expert.

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    DISCLAIMER: We recommend avoiding this type of project and using a professional since it can be hazardous if you're inexperienced. Refrigerant is toxic, and ingesting it can damage your health. Even while performing the check and removal of the old refrigerant, wear protective gear such as a mask, goggles, and gloves. In some areas, it is illegal to use refrigerants or do this kind of work on air conditioning units without the proper license. Note that just because refrigerant is available for sale online or in a store, it still may be against the rules for you, a layperson, to be the one handling it once it’s purchased. Check your local laws before attempting this project.

    Step 1 – Inspect the Unit

    Using your air conditioner’s manual, locate the compressor of your unit. It will look like a metal cylinder and have two lines coming off it.

    TIP: Before adding the coolant, use this opportunity to inspect the rest of the components and make sure they are clean and working. There are two reasons this is necessary: 1) it may be something other than the refrigerant that impacting the unit’s performance, and 2) if fresh refrigerant is added and the unit is powered on while another component isn’t functioning optimally, all kinds of general damage could occur far beyond a coolant or charging issue.

    Step 2 - Plug the Service Valve

    Locate the service valve inside your Freon kit. It will be the large connector valve found amongst the kit’s other contents. Plug the service valve into a compressor line (one of the lines you located next to the compressor earlier) in air conditioner unit. Follow the Freon kit instructions to attach the service valve appropriately.

    Step 3 - Plug the Tap Valve

    Your Freon kit also contains a small valve connector. That valve is called the tap valve. The tap valve must be plugged into the remaining compressor line to your AC’s compressor. You will find fittings on top of your air conditioner’s compressor. Follow the instructions in the Freon kit’s manual for the best results or if there is any confusion.

    Step 4 - Add Freon

    freon tank

    To add Freon to the lines, you need to attach the Freon container to the two valves that you have just installed. Follow the instructions set in your Freon kit to secure the container between the two valves. Basically, the air conditioner will force the Freon into the unit.

    Step 5 - Charge Freon

    Now that you’ve finished installing new refrigerant to your home AC unit, you need to let the Freon flow in to it. To do so, simply turn on the unit and turn it up to the highest setting. This will force Freon into your unit, effectively recharging your air conditioner in the process.

    Once the unit is done taking in all of the Freon, turn off the air conditioning unit. Remove the Freon container and the two valves that you installed.

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