If there’s not enough refrigerant in your HVAC system, it can damage the unit, causing it to overheat and eventually burn out. How do you know how much you have, though? Here’s how to check your refrigerant levels.

Signs of Low Refrigerant

Your refrigerant is what extracts heat from the air, producing cooling for your AC or heating for your heat pump. If there’s not enough of it and your refrigerant levels are too low, your system has to work harder to heat or cool your home, wasting energy and wearing out the system. If you notice the fan running constantly, particularly if the air coming from the vents isn’t cold, it may be a sign of low refrigerant. If it runs too long, the overwork could even trip the circuit breaker.

You may also notice bubbling or hissing sounds coming from your unit, which indicates lower pressure from the refrigerant valve. Finally, if there’s ice buildup on your evaporator coil, particularly in the summer, it may mean low refrigerant levels.

Checking Your Refrigerant

If you have a digital thermometer, you can test your refrigerant. Look for a plate on your unit with details about how it works. It should include the type of refrigerant used. Next, look for the pressure gauge and check the refrigerant pressure. If it’s low, so is your coolant.

Next, look for the refrigeration slide and set it to “Dew,” to measure your evaporation temperature with the digital thermometer. Then set it to “Bubble” to measure condensation temperature. Measure the temperature on the suction pipe and subtract the evaporation temperature from it to calculate super heating. Measure the temperature on the discharge pipe and subtract the condensation temperature to calculate subcooling.

If both final numbers are between 5,000 and 15,000, your refrigerant is within acceptable parameters. If not, call an HVAC technician to replace it. Don’t try to do the job yourself. Without proper training, you could damage the system, resulting in even more expensive repairs.

If you need a technician to recharge your refrigerant levels, contact us at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We keep Indianapolis HVAC systems running smoothly and efficiently.