There are plenty of DIY tasks you can do to maintain your air conditioning system and improve its performance, from changing the air filter to removing dust and debris from the unit. However, there are a few things that should be left up to a seasoned and certified HVAC technician. Recharging your A/C system's refrigerant happens to be one of those tasks. The following offers 3 good reasons why adding refrigerant to a residential A/C system isn't a DIY task you'd want to undertake.
Reason #1: Handling Refrigerant Can Be Dangerous
There are plenty of good reasons why attempting to recharge your own A/C system could be potentially dangerous. The refrigerant contained in typical HVAC systems operates under high temperatures and high pressures. Any attempt to recharge your A/C unit without the right tools or procedures could result in severe injury and severe equipment damage. Coming into direct skin contact with refrigerant could also lead to severe skin irritation. In some cases, lengthy contact with refrigerant can even cause frostbite.
In high concentrations, the contents of most refrigerants can also pose an asphyxiation danger in confined spaces. Symptoms often include increased pulse rate, deeper respiration and loss of coordination.
Most refrigerants are also dangerous to the environment. Refrigerants that still use CFCs and HCFCs are known for their effects on the ozone layer. In the U.S., it's illegal to intentionally release these refrigerants into the atmosphere. These refrigerants must be recovered and stored within a proper container.
HVAC technicians are not only trained to avoid these pitfalls when working on A/C systems, but they also have the tools necessary to safely handle refrigerants without putting themselves, your home or the air conditioning equipment itself at risk.
Reason #2: Mistakes Can Easily Ruin Your Air Conditioner
To err is human, but there's little room for error when it comes to recharging an A/C system. It only takes a simple mistake to sideline your A/C, resulting in an expensive replacement or even serious injury. These mistakes include using the wrong type refrigerant for your A/C system. For example, accidentally substituting R-410a in lieu of R-22 can quickly destroy the compressor and contaminate other A/C components.
Other mistakes, including using the wrong equipment, adding too much or too little refrigerant and adding liquid refrigerant improperly, can also result in system failure and expensive repairs or replacement afterwards. Your HVAC technician is trained to avoid these and other common mistakes through rigorous training and extensive knowledge of refrigerant types.
Reason #3: A DIY Recharge Can Have Consequences Later On
Going at it alone when it comes to recharging your A/C system can also have other consequences. Immediately afterwards, you may not be satisfied with the cooling performance of your recently recharged A/C system. You may also spend your time wondering if you actually did a good job with your DIY project.
In the long run, a DIY recharge can actually set the stage for future problems with your A/C system. If you forgot to inspect your system for refrigerant leaks, for instance, you could run into problems associated with low refrigerant levels later on. If you add it too much refrigerant, then you may end up tackling excessive wear and tear or premature failure of various A/C components, including your A/C compressor.
Having an AC repairs technician recharge your A/C system can help set your mind at ease. Not only will you know that the job was done right the first time, but many HVAC services offer warranties on their work, giving you greater peace of mind when it comes to your air-conditioning equipment.