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Air Conditioning Question: What Is Refrigerant?

In order for an air conditioner (as well as a heat pump and a refrigerator) to function, it requires a chemical mixture called refrigerant. Without refrigerant pumped through the AC, starting from the compressor and then moving to the outdoor and indoor coils, no heat exchange would take place, and the air conditioning system would act as nothing more than a large set of fans.

We’ll explain in more detail what refrigerant is and how it works. When you need more information about your air conditioning in Woodbury, NJ because of a repair need or if you are considering installing a replacement, look to SPS Mechanical Inc. and our skilled staff.

Refrigerant basics

Refrigerant refers to any chemical that carries out heat exchange: that is, movement of heat from one place to another. To work efficiently, refrigerant must go through a quick phase transition, the change between liquid and gas and back again. Refrigerant absorbs heat in the evaporation stage, and then releases it during the condensation stage. During normal operation, refrigerant does not dissipate as it changes phase.

Early refrigerants were made of toxic, acidic, or combustible material, such as ammonia. Not until the invention of Freon (a trademarked name for a number of refrigerant blends) did safe refrigerants allow ACs to enter regular home use.

For many years, the most common refrigerant blend found in air conditioners was R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon blend. Because of the negative effect that hydrochlorofluorocarbons have on the earth’s ozone layer, the U.S. started a phase out of R-22 during the 21st century, with complete disuse set for 2020. The current common blend for residential air conditioners is R-410A, a mixture of two earlier blends often trademarked as Puron. R-410A has no ozone-depleting properties. Its use has also increased the efficiency of air conditioners, causing a general reduction in power consumption that compensates for R-410A’s global warming potential.

Leave refrigerants to the professionals

Refrigerant in an air conditioner is set at a specific charge (level), and if that level drops because of leaks, it requires technicians to recharge it. You need to leave such repairs to trained HVAC specialists, who know how to seal leaks, and put in the right amount of new refrigerant. Over- or undercharging refrigerant will damage the system.

If you have troubles with your air conditioning in Woodbury, NJ because of leaking refrigerant, call SPS Mechanical Inc., any time of the day or night, for the service that will take care of the problem and restore the cool air to your home.

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