Overcharged AC: How To Spot & Solve The Problem
The idea that more is always better does not apply to air conditioning systems. In fact, having too much refrigerant in a cooling system can be just as detrimental as having too little. This is because an overcharged system puts extra strain on the equipment, ultimately leading to damage and a shorter lifespan. To avoid these problems, it’s important to keep the system’s coolant within its recommended parameters. In this article, we will explore overcharged AC symptoms and the dangers it poses.
Unmistakable Signs of An Overcharged Air Conditioner
Refrigerant plays a crucial role in the functioning of an air conditioning system. It is responsible for removing heat from the air inside your home, resulting in a gradual decrease of indoor temperature. While it may seem logical to add more refrigerant to achieve faster cooling, this can actually cause more harm than good, especially if the amount exceeds the capacity of the unit.
Only certified, experienced HVAC technicians should handle refrigerant, as it can be dangerous. However, mistakes can still be made by amateurs. As a homeowner, it’s helpful to be aware of the common signs of an overcharged air conditioner, which include:
1. Abrupt Increase in Energy Cost
You are likely familiar with the typical energy consumption of your air conditioning unit. However, if you notice a sudden and significant increase in your energy bill, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your AC. One possible cause of this is an overcharged system, which can put extra strain on the equipment and consume more energy. If you recently had work done on your cooling system and notice this change in your energy bill, your unit could be overcharged.
2. Excessive Heat Emitted from the Outdoor Unit
Regular HVAC maintenance, which includes checking the outdoor unit for proper airflow, is an important part of owning an HVAC system. During these inspections, pay attention to the heat being emitted from the unit. While it is normal for the AC unit to produce hot air, if it feels excessively hotter than usual, it could indicate an overworked cooling system. This could be caused by dirty air filters, clogged blowers, or excess refrigerant.
3. Frozen Air Conditioning Coils
An air conditioner can sometimes get so cold that the coils freeze up. Such an issue requires expert investigation to determine the proper course of action. It can be difficult for untrained individuals to determine the cause of this issue, as both low and high levels of refrigerant can lead to frozen coils. Therefore, it’s advisable to contact a professional HVAC technician for help.
4. Unusual Noise from the Compressor
It is normal for the compressor to make some noise, such as when it switches on or off, or when it hums during operation. However, any sudden and unusual noises, such as loud squealing, indicate that something is wrong. This could be due to the system struggling to handle excess high-pressure liquid refrigerant. If you notice this, get in touch with a professional technician to inspect the unit.
5. Sudden Shut Down of the Cooling System
Engineers design air conditioning systems with safety measures in place to prevent damage. The measures include safety switches that can trigger a sudden shutdown if certain dangers are detected. One such danger is excess refrigerant in the system. If your cooling system has shut down unexpectedly, get in touch with a technician to determine the cause before attempting to turn it back on.
6. Inconsistent Pressure Levels
Excessive refrigerant in the system can lead to inconsistent pressure levels around the air conditioning unit. While you may not have the knowledge or equipment to measure these levels, a technician can easily perform an inspection to determine if this is the issue. If you suspect that this is the problem, contact a professional for an objective diagnosis.
Causes of an Overcharged Air Conditioner
It’s relatively easy to understand how a system can become undercharged due to refrigerant leaks. However, it may be more difficult to understand how an air conditioner can become overcharged. Some possible causes include:
- Improper HVAC Installation: One common cause of an overcharged air conditioner is an improper installation by untrained or unqualified technicians. During the HVAC installation process, it’s crucial to rely on professionals who have the knowledge and experience to properly charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. If too much is added, issues with the performance and efficiency of the unit arise.
- Substandard Air Conditioner Repairs: Another cause of an overcharged air conditioner is repairs done by amateurs or unlicensed individuals. These individuals may not have the proper knowledge or training to properly charge the system, leading to overcharging and subsequent issues. Keep in mind that the handling and disposal of refrigerant are regulated by law and should only be done by licensed professionals.
Consequences of an Overcharged Air Conditioner
- Reduced Cooling Performance & Efficiency: An overcharged air conditioner can result in poor performance and reduced efficiency of the cooling equipment. This can lead to difficulty in maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature, particularly during hot summer months. The system may also struggle to properly convert refrigerant from gas to liquid, resulting in a decline in performance.
- Damaged Air Conditioner Components: Excess refrigerant can also lead to damage to the air conditioner’s internal components, such as valves and connecting rods. When refrigerant leaks into the compressor’s cylinders, it can damage these components. Further issues could develop later in the future. Address the problem as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
- Burnout of the Air Conditioner Compressor Motor: Excess refrigerant can also leak into the crankcase and mix with the oil, causing the crankcase pressure to rise. This added stress can burn out the compressor motor, making it inoperable. As a result, you may have to replace the whole cooling system. This can be a costly and time-consuming issue that can be avoided by addressing an overcharged system early on.
What to Do as a Homeowner
If you suspect that your air conditioner is overcharged, take action immediately by turning off the system and contacting a professional HVAC technician. A certified technician will have the knowledge and expertise to properly calculate the correct refrigerant level and make any necessary corrections to the system. The professional will also be able to identify and repair any damaged areas to restore your system to proper functioning.
Avoid cutting corners when it comes to air conditioner installations and repairs. While it may be tempting to hire amateurs to save money, their lack of knowledge and experience can lead to overcharging and other issues. Instead, rely on certified technicians from the start to ensure proper functioning and avoid future headaches.
Contact Townsend Energy for HVAC Services
Townsend Energy is a leading provider of heating and cooling services in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We employ only the best-certified technicians who can provide top-notch HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair service. Our team has the expertise and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.
At Townsend Energy, we offer competitive pricing for all of our services. Our goal is to improve your comfort and increase your home energy efficiency. If you need a new HVAC system, we have a wide range of options for your home and budget. Call us today to schedule a service appointment. You can confidently rely on Townsend Energy for all of your HVAC needs and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your system is in the hands of experienced professionals.
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