What is air conditioner refrigerant and how does it work?

Engineer checking air conditioning refrigerant level

An air conditioning system operates with many different parts and components, all working to either heat or cool the air circulating within your home or business. The refrigerant is at the very centre of this process because it is essential to the temperature change itself.

What is air conditioner refrigerant?

Taking the form of a liquid or a gas inside your air conditioning system, this refrigerant can either absorb heat from the air to produce cooling, or, transfer warmth to the air for heating. Your air conditioning system will only contain one type of refrigerant, but they can come in different types. Here at MAC, the systems we provide utilise the more environmentally friendly R32 gas which is both more efficient and easier to recycle.

How does it work?

The refrigerant is located within the copper coils of the air conditioning system, this is what allows it travel to different areas within the system and cool/heat the circulated air effectively. When you set your air conditioner to cooling, the refrigerant starts the process as a low pressure gas, moving through the system it is converted into a cooled high pressure liquid. The air conditioning system lowers the pressure of the refrigerant so it becomes a vapour and this is when it absorbs the heat from the air. As the air is cooled over the refrigerant-filled pipes, the refrigerant starts to boil, returning back to being a low pressure gas so the cycle can repeat.

The refrigerant in an air conditioning system operates continually as an internal process, which means it should never change and will always remain the same, unless your system has a leak. 

Air conditioner refrigerant leak symptoms

There are various reasons why air conditioner refrigerant can leak but it is important to note the signs of refrigerant leaks to alert you of the situation. These include:

  • Little/no temperature change to the air coming from your indoor unit.
  • The airflow through the air conditioning system seems low.
  • You may hear a faint hissing sound from your indoor unit.
  • You have noticed an increase in your electric bill when your energy usage has not changed.

If you believe your air conditioning unit has a refrigerant leak, call MAC as quickly as possible. We offer air conditioning repairs throughout the UK, 365 days a year. Contact us via telephone 0121 730 4800, email us at sales@midlandaircon.co.uk or fill out our online contact form.

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