How to Add Refrigerant to AC Unit in 8 Simple Steps

Have you ever wondered how to add refrigerant to an AC unit?

Adding refrigerant to an air conditioner at home is possible, and the best way to do so is by following the below-mentioned steps.

However, while it’s quite possible to do it yourself, it might be prudent to hire an HVAC expert to do the task for you. This is because refrigerant is dangerous and requires careful handling when adding it to an AC unit. Also, it’s important to know the right kind to add to an AC unit to prevent any faults.

But, if you are confident about a DIY project, here’s how to go about it.

How to Add Refrigerant to Home AC Unit

Adding refrigerant to a home AC unit is a problem you can handle. All you need are some simple tools and information about air conditioners. After that, follow the steps below to add refrigerant to an AC unit.

Inspect the Air Conditioner

Before adding refrigerant to an AC unit, it’s crucial to carry out an inspection. The first step here will be to check if the unit is blowing warm air. If an AC unit is blowing out warm air, this might be a sign of low refrigerant.

Probably, there’s a leak that’s causing the cooling system to have low refrigerant issues. And, such leaks need fixing before adding more refrigerant to the air conditioner. Usually, when there’s a refrigerant leak, the pipes in the AC unit are covered with ice.

After that, you can add refrigerant to the AC unit at home. Contact an HVAC technician for assistance if you find it hard to trace a leak source. Only by fixing refrigerant leaks do you ensure the amount you refill benefits the unit.

Service the AC Unit

Routine maintenance is necessary before you refill the refrigerant. Every AC unit requires service or maintenance to ensure it’s working properly. During the maintenance, an HVAC technician checks different parts of the system.

The HVAC technician will take care of any parts that need cleaning or replacement. Such parts include the air filter, evaporator, condenser, and blower wheel. Such parts are prone to getting dirty when the AC unit is working.

When you add refrigerant to an AC unit with dirty parts, this can impact the entire system. For instance, it’s hard for cool air to blow through dirty air filters. The more the air forces its way through, the more damage can happen to the AC unit.

Purchase the Right Refrigerant

The third step is selecting and buying the right refrigerant for your AC unit. If you buy and add the wrong refrigerant to your AC unit, it can cause greater harm. Usually, adding the wrong refrigerant causes an AC unit to combust and may lead to injury and even loss of life.

Therefore, it’s prudent first to note the type of refrigerant you need for the AC unit in your home. Identify the manufacturer’s label with the right guidelines regarding refrigerant. After that, consult an HVAC store attendant to direct you to the right refrigerant for the AC unit.

AC units use 2 types of refrigerant, namely R-22 and R410A. The older generation of AC units use R22, but this refrigerant is no longer in circulation. Research shows that R22 refrigerant is harmful to your health and isn’t an eco-friendly product; hence it’s phasing out.

More companies are now making AC units that use R410A refrigerant. If you still have an R22 unit, it might be time for an upgrade. If not, it can take some time to locate an HVAC store stocking R22, and the price might be higher.

Get Proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Refrigerant, whether R22 or R410A, is a harmful liquid that can lead to toxicity when you come into contact with it. After buying the right refrigerant, get proper PPE to protect yourself when adding the compound to an AC unit.

You need eye protection, gloves, and a face mask for this task. Ensure the PPE you wear is thick enough to prevent contact with the refrigerant. Any contact, especially inhaling the compound, can lead to respiratory issues and even death.

Therefore, always read the refrigerant information label for the best handling practices. It’s always better to have an AC technician handle adding refrigerant to an AC unit. However, when you have to do it yourself, safety first must be your goal.

If any refrigerant gets on your skin, rinse it immediately with clean water. Afterward, seek medical attention.

Check the Temperature

Adding refrigerant to an AC unit requires a specific temperature. So, always check the temperature before proceeding with the task at hand. The right time to add refrigerant to an AC unit is when the temperature is 55°F outside.

If the outdoor temperatures are below 55°F, the refrigerant seeks this as the coldest part of the AC unit. As a result, this can lead to issues when adding the refrigerant as it seeks the coldest area. So, always wait for the right conditions before you proceed.

Consider Hiring an HVAC Expert

As much as there’s no law dictating how to add refrigerant to an AC unit, it might be best to leave the job to a professional. Most AC manufacturers recommend consulting an HVAC expert for such tasks. If you do the job poorly and end up damaging the AC unit, this can nullify your warranty and cause serious consequences.

Add the Refrigerant

Start by shutting off the AC unit and breaker. Also, turn off the thermostat before you add the refrigerant. After that:

  • Check the refrigerant gauge and hook it up to the 3-valve on your AC.
  • Let 15 minutes pass by, then switch the AC back on.
  • Attach the refrigerant tank to your AC’s center connection.
  • Open the low-pressure valve to permit periodic bursts of refrigerant to your AC.
  • Check the temperature and turn off the valve when you achieve the desired one.
  • Turn the refrigerant’s container’s knob to cease refrigerant flow to the AC.
  • Detach the gauge and hoses from the air conditioner
  • Use a gauge to conduct a leak test and see if the AC unit is good to go.

Store the Remaining Refrigerant

Check the refrigerant tank for proper storage instructions. Follow these to the letter to ensure the tank is stored correctly.

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