Myth: Just a Shot of Freon is All It Takes
The myth I’d like to debunk because I dislike it the most is the “it just needed a shot of refrigerant (Freon)” myth. A shot of Freon is almost never a permanent fix for your air conditioner’s problem.
There is one main reason to add refrigerant to an air conditioning system. The reason being that the amount of refrigerant in the system, commonly called the charge, needs to be adjusted. It is not unusual for refrigerant charge to need adjustment ONCE during the first year or 18 months of operation. Occasionally, the charge may need to be adjusted again, after several years of operation.
All modern air conditioning systems are hermetically sealed. Nothing goes in; nothing goes out. There are only two ways that Freon can leave the system. It can be taken out intentionally or it can leak out.
Your service technician’s primary objective is to get your air conditioning up and running in the shortest time possible. If you want him to do more than just that, you must ask him to do more.
Guidelines to Follow When Interfacing with Your Service Technician
1: Get an explanation before you pay a service technician for adding “a shot of Freon” to any air conditioning system. This applies to the air conditioner in your house and your car as well as the systems in your grow.
2: Be sure to get a copy of every service ticket and save them in a file. Make a note on the ticket about your discussion around a leak. You may need these in the future. (See Rule #3)
3: Never ever allow a shot of Freon to be added to the same system twice. Obviously, there is a leak under these circumstances. The leak needs to be fixed or you are just throwing good money after bad.
Questions You Need to Ask your Technician
1: “How much refrigerant did you add?” They know exactly, because they charge you by the pound.
A legitimate adjustment to the charge consists of adding a pound or so of refrigerant, at the most. If the technician added more refrigerant than that, you likely have a leak. Adding refrigerant without fixing the leak is like giving a blood transfusion to a patient without stopping the bleeding.
2: “Where was the leak?” closely followed by “Did you look for the leak?” Service technicians hate to find and repair leaks. It messes up their whole day. They start the morning with a list of places to go and equipment to fix. It will take all day to find and repair a refrigerant leak. If the technician didn’t find the leak, call the service company and make an appointment for the technician to come back when enough time has been built into his schedule to do the job.
Some customers would rather pay $500 for a service call once or twice a year, forever, to avoid paying a $1,500 onetime charge to fix the leak. Service companies will come back to add refrigerant to the same system again and again for as long as you want them to. It is quick and it is easy.
Repairing the leak will not be cheap but it is way better than the alternative. A leak is going to lead to a major failure at some point. The small leak will get bigger and bigger. A big leak can destroy the compressor. Replacing the compressor will cost several thousand dollars and the unit will be out of service for a couple of days.
Remember… Find the leak. Fix the leak.