Indianapolis HVAC FAQ: Can I Just Add One Pound of R22 Refrigerant?

By: Brian Schutt  |  June 10, 2015

With the price of freon refrigerant so high, Indianapolis homeowners understandably look for ways to reduce the price of repair. After we diagnose a system for being low on freon, we often get the question: Can I just have you add one pound of refrigerant? The short answer: No.

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To understand the answer, we have to dive into the the technical side of the business.

The refrigeration system in your air conditioner works within a closed-loop system, in that the refrigerant circulates through your outdoor condenser into your indoor evaporator coil in a continuous process. It continues to be functional as long as the refrigerant remains at the proper level.

Your HVAC Refrigeration System Compared to Items on Your Car

For a clearer example, think of refrigerant like the air in a tire. That air stays within the closed space and does not need to be refilled unless some leaks out. When it does go flat, partially filling up the tire or refilling the tire without addressing the leak is ill-advised, as it does not make a meaningful impact on the flat tire.

Juxtapose that with gas in your car. As it burns off, you must replace it constantly. If you add a small amount of gas, your car will still function properly—regardless of the gas level in the tank.

Your HVAC’s refrigeration system operates more like your car’s tires, not your gas tank. When your air conditioner gets low on refrigerant, it has a leak somewhere. We always recommend against adding refrigerant without finding and attempting to fix the leak.

What Happens After Refrierant Leak Fixed

At this point, you may be thinking you can still cut costs by adding just a small amount of freon after fixing a refrigeration leak. Unfortunately, this approach is unlikely to make a positive impact on cooling your house. Your system requires a certain quantity of refrigerant, at a certain pressure. Otherwise, it will not function properly.

The Takeaway From All This

When your system gets low on freon, you should have a certified HVAC technician:

  1. Find the leak and, if possible, repair it.
  2. Pressure test the system to ensure no more leaks exist.
  3. Recharge (refill) refrigerant (R22 or R410a) to correct levels.
Brian Schutt

About 

is the co-owner of Homesense Heating | Cooling. Born and raised in Indianapolis, he loves the city and its people, and is committed to bringing a servants mindset into the heating and cooling industry. One of the ways he does that is to translate the technical language of HVAC into the manageable and understandable for homeowners.

Have a question? Tweet him and you'll get an answer promptly.

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