We all take our air conditioners for granted. It is not until our air conditioner dies on us or we visit someone who does not have one that we begin to appreciate how precious our cooling unit is. Like all other home appliances, air conditioners too need regular maintenance. Failing to do so will result in costly air conditioning repair. While an air conditioner can develop different kinds of issues, one of the most common problems homeowner’s face is the need to recharge or refill the refrigerant in the unit. If your air conditioner needs a recharge, it will stop blowing cool air. Unfortunately, this is a gradual change, and by the time you notice there is a problem, the odds are your house is already steaming hot. Thankfully, adding refrigerant is not an expensive affair, and once it has been refilled, you can enjoy cool air once again.
When Do You Need to Refill the Refrigerant in Your AC Unit?
The refrigerant is the lifeline of your air conditioning unit. Its main responsibility is to absorb heat from your indoors and carry that heat out of your home. If your cooling unit is low on refrigerant, the cooling process will not work. So, when is the right time to refill the refrigerant? Unlike what many HVAC contractors may tell you, you do not need a refill every few months unless your system has a leak. The best time to check refrigerant levels is during an annual checkup. If the levels are low, your HVAC technician can top it off for you.
What Happens When Your Air Conditioner Is Low on Refrigerant?
Before we tell you how much it will cost you to recharge your air conditioner, you need to understand what happens when your AC is low on refrigerant levels. As mentioned above, the refrigerant that flows through your cooling unit absorbs heat from the air indoors and releases it outside. Needless to say, if the unit does not have enough refrigerant, it will not be able to remove heat from your house effectively. Listed below are a few of the problems that you could face:
House Does Not Cool or Takes Too Long to Cool: When your AC does not have enough refrigerant, it will be able to remove only a little heat during each cycle. This will invariably lead to very long cooling cycles that will slow down the rate at which your unit can cool down your indoors.
Warm Air: If the air coming out of your air conditioners supply registers is warmer than usual, it could be due to low refrigerant levels. This will make your home feel stuffy and uncomfortable.
Electricity Bills Are Higher Than Usual: When your AC is low on refrigerant, the cooling cycles are longer. Your cooling unit will have to work longer and harder to cool your home. This will lead to a spike in your utility bills.
Frozen System: Low levels of refrigerant can also cause your evaporator coils to freeze. This is because the refrigerant flows through the coils, and if there is not enough refrigerant to absorb the heat, the coils will begin to freeze.
Cost to Refill Refrigerant
Now that we know a little about a refrigerant and how important it is for your cooling unit to have optimum levels of it, to function efficiently, let us now go into the costs involved with refrigerant refills.
The average cost to recharge the Freon levels in an air conditioner unit ranges between $200 and $600. This number can vary, depending on the city you live in, the HVAC provider you choose, and the refrigerant levels in your air conditioner. Most homeowners pay no more than $400 to recharge a 2.5-ton air conditioner with R410A refrigerant if the system springs a leak.
The cost to recharge an air conditioner will also depend on the type of gas used and the number of pounds required. Recharge costs fall in the range of approximately $125 for a 2.5-ton unit recharge of the R410A. In order to perform a 2.5-ton recharge in case of a major leak, you may have to spend about $1000 – $1500.
Residential Air Conditioner Freon Refill Cost
Aside from the cost of the gas itself, homeowners also need to factor additional dollars toward labor. As mentioned earlier, Freon costs about $125 – $150 per pound. Most homeowners will pay in the range of $200 to $400 for a refill, depending on the type and size of their HVAC unit. If you own a larger r22 unit, you may have to spend $600 or more. To break this down for you, a 25lbs unit of r410A costs anything between $100 and $175. Labor will be an additional $70 to $100 per hour.
How Long Does It Take to Recharge a Home AC?
While the thought of recharge may sound intimidating, it takes no longer than 5-10 minutes to fill in one pound of Freon. If your unit is low on refrigerant, you will need 2-4 lbs. per ton of AC cooling to refill the refrigerant to optimum levels. Most houses have air conditioning units that range between a half-ton to 5 tons. This means a home with a 3-ton air conditioner will need 6-12 lbs. of Freon. It will take no longer than 2 hours to recharge a 3-ton unit.
DIY or Hire an HVAC Technician?
This brings us to the last question. Is it really worthwhile to hire an HVAC technician for a Freon recharge? The answer is yes. While recharging your air conditioner may sound like an easy task, it takes experience and knowledge to do it right. In fact, EPA section 608 of Clean Air requires that anyone who purchases or handles air conditioning refrigerants must have a license. Recharging with the wrong coolant can ruin your unit and call for a replacement. Whether you need a recharge to top up your unit because it is undercharged or probably has a leak, it is in your best interest to hire an expert technician to get the job done right. Contact Central Heating and Air Conditioning for air conditioning repair in Roswell. Call us today at (404) 261-2280.