Refrigerant and Your HVAC System

April 28, 2016

The refrigerant inside your air conditioner or heat pump is the lifeblood of the entire system. Its sole purpose is toabsorb the heat and dispel it. The most common type of refrigerants in use are R-410A for systems manufactured after 2010, and R-22 used in older equipment. Of the two, R-410A is much more environmentally friendly and less expensive.

How It Works
All refrigerants go through a state change, as either liquids or gases. When they're in the liquid state, they flow through the evaporator coil inside the cooling system to absorb the heat from the air the blower fan sends over the coil. Refrigerants return to the outdoor condensing coil, where large fans pull air over them to dissipate the heat. An expansion valve helps in this process by reducing the pressure to cool the refrigerant quickly. It then returns to the compressor, where it's converted to a liquid and flows back into the evaporator coil. This cycle continues until your home reaches the thermostat's setting.

How It Affects Performance
Since refrigerants provide the actual cooling by absorbing heat, anything that affects the amount reduces efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that improper levels are one of the most common issues associated with reduced efficiency. It's important for the HVAC technician to measure the refrigerant's level inside your system during annual servicing to improve performance and lower energy consumption. If you use a heat pump, it's critical to have it serviced annually for optimal heating and cooling. Dirty evaporator and condenser coils also impact how refrigerants perform. Dirt, mold or biofilms going on the evaporator coil insulate it and the refrigerant can't pick up as much heat from the air. Ice can form over the coil and do serious damage to the compressor in the outdoor condenser. A clean filter helps prevent a dirty evaporator coil, and keeping the outdoor condenser coil dust-free also improves efficiency. The refrigerant in your HVAC system plays a vital role in keeping your home comfortable.

To learn more, contact Lozier Heating & Cooling, helping homeowners in Des Moines with their HVAC systems. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Credit/Copyright Attribution: "Alhovik/Shutterstock"