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Question DetailsAsked on 12/23/2015

a/c unit isnt blowing out cold air had freon put in worked for 3 days had to put more in why

Had man come out put freon in took 3 minutes to put in lasted 3 days of cold air came back again put in freon took 3 minutes said there was a leak somewhere is he putting enough in is he not ? Does this man now what he is doing or is this simple job security purposes . my a/c unit is only 2 years old the one before that was hell knows how old never ever had freon put in and lived here for 5 years! Please help!

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Whether he is putting in enough or not - probably so if putting it in by charging it up to a rated gage pressure while operating (pressure depends on ambient temp) as he should be. Plus, if not putting enough refrigerant in the unit it would not work OK initially then back to no or not enough warm air - it would have had trouble cooling enough right from the refill, so almost certain he put in roughly enough but it leaked back out.

As for whether this is just job security for him - since unit was not blowing cold air then was after he filled it, then not again and presumably is again after topping off again, intentional sabotage to create job security is pretty highly unlikely. He probably did top off the unit, it leaked out, he topped it off again, and presumably will leak off again in another 3 days or so after that refill unless the problem was a leaking fill fitting which he sealed off completely after the refill so he solved the leak by accident - unlikely but possible. But job security and continued revenue by just refilling rather than finding and fixing the leak - many HVAC techs do not like diagnosis or repair work or in some cases even really know how to properly diagnose a problem with a unit, so sort of treat it as a black box you feed gas to if it is not working and otherwise tell the client he needs a new unit - both of which approaches (with normal fee structures and markups) generally means more profit to his company than spending labor hours on diagnosis and repair.

A lot of A/C units will leak down enough to need a topping off every 5-10 years or so - from minor joint or valve fitting leaks, pinhole compressor seal leaks, etc - though other units run 20-30 years without any detectable leakage. So - from just one topping off after 2 years you would not know if it was from gradual leakage, or a new larger leak that you needed more refrigerant.

That is why generally the technician should always check the system for leaks with a thermal scanner (which sees the colder spot at the leak), a gas detector meter, or with tracer/detection dye in the gas to visually see the leakage point. Sometimes, especially if the amount of leakage is small and he cannot immediately find a leak, you and he might agree to top off the system for now and for instance put dye in the system (to be checked for a week or few later) on the assumption it is a small leak. Obviously, if the system is way down on gas or has been working fine for ages then suddenly is basically not working at all, as opposed to gradually working longer and harder to cool the house down over time, so likely indicating a rapid gas leak, then a new more significant leak would be suspected.

Certainly a second refill indicates a possible leak - and if it is causing the unit to fail to produce cold air (assuming your blower is moving the air and the coil is not freezing up and a few otehr possible causes which could cause it to not cool), that large a leak might well be detectable just by looking for frosting on the lines and coil and connections, especially if occurring on the hjigh-pressure side or in the coil. Did he say anything about checking for signs of leakage or freezing up of the coil ? (Though generally speaking, if the system has a significant gas charge, even if low, and the coil is freezing up for any of several reasons, you will have cool air for the start of the cooling cycle until it freezes up again - unless it is so bad you A/C is trying to run almost constantly to satisfy the thermostat demand.

A LOT of techs just top the system off and call it good - even though that can waste a lot of money for the client in the trip and/or charging fee and the per-pound gas charge, which many vendors mark up 2 or 3 fold so that is a major profit source for them.

Since it worked after refilling but lasted only 3 days clearly you have a leak, and just refilling it with gas is not only throwing money away but it is illegal to knowingly discharge refrigerant gases to the atmosphere (and putting gas in a system you know has a significant leak clearly fall in that category), and you run the risk (since it significantly drained off in only 3 days) of permanently damaging the system because the gas cools the compressor as it flows through it, plus carries the lubricant in most compressors so low refrigerant can ruin the compressor - not to mention wasting electricity because the compressor (at least till it shuts down due to overheating if it has a thermostatic breaker) will keep on running, trying to cool the house down.

Sounds to me like you need a bit more expert tech or one who cares more about your $ - to diagnose the issue and determine what is wrong. Whether you go with another Heating and A/C (your Search the List category) company entirely, or talk to the manager at that company and ask for a refund on one of the fills and any gas needed during the repair as well - and a more expert tech to come out and diagnose it - is your call.

If the evaporator coil has gone out (unlikely at 2 years old but happens) it is likely the coil will be replaced under manufacturer warranty (prorated or totally free except probably shipping) but labor typically runs $500-1000 to replace it, which is almost never covered by manufacturer warranty. Other types of repairs would typically be that much or less, and parts might or might not be covered by warranty - commonly 5 years.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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