By Greg, Pacific Aire Comfort Advisor,
If your air conditioner hasn't been running as it should this year or your electric bills are high, you may be having problems with refrigerant huffing. This is a practice where people, mainly teenagers, tap into the refrigerant from your air conditioner's outdoor condenser to inhale it. The resulting high can be fatal or cause long-lasting damage to the heart, lungs and brain. Not only is it dangerous for the abuser, but it's also hard on your equipment and electric bills.
When someone huffs refrigerant, the abuser removes the fill valve for your air conditioner found on the condenser. Your best recourse is to install a locking safety cap on the valve to solve the problems with refrigerant huffing. Only you and your contractor will be able to access the fill valve.
The first step in detecting problems with and preventing refrigerant huffing involves contacting an HVAC contractor who can measure the system's existing pressure. If it's too low, he or she will look for leaks throughout the coils or connectors. If none are present, it's likely that you are the victim of huffing.
Why low refrigerant is a problem
When the refrigerant in your system gets too low, your A/C has to work harder to cool your home. It raises your electric bills and increases wear and tear on the A/C. When the pressure gets too low, your A/C will stop running entirely. If you depend on your A/C for interior comfort, locking the valve for the refrigerant as soon as you can will proactively solve future problems.
Prevention is especially important if your system uses R-22, or Freon, since the EPA has put strict controls over the amount of this refrigerant that can be manufactured. R-22 is one of the chemicals responsible for the degradation of the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. Putting a locking cap on your condenser's valve solves the problem. It also keeps you from higher repair bills, since the cost of R-22 has gone up and will continue to rise.
If you'd like to learn more about problems with refrigerant huffing, contact Pacific Aire Heating & Cooling. We've provided HVAC services in the areas surrounding the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Conejo valleys along with Ventura and Northern Santa Barbara counties since 1990.