If your home AC has a Freon leak the first thing to cross your mind is how to refill the Freon and repair the leak. But most people don’t usually think about the cost of Freon itself. So the question then becomes, how much is Freon for AC unit? If you notice that your air conditioner system is taking longer to cool the air in your home, it may need more Freon.
Air conditioners rely on Freon to cool the air as it passes over the coils. When the Freon levels are low, the AC system becomes less efficient and takes longer to condition the air.
Refilling the Freon can allow your air conditioner to continue cooling the air effectively. However, the cost of these refills can vary based on a variety of factors.
What Is Freon and When Do You Need to Replace it?
Freon is the brand name of a popular refrigerant used in air conditioning systems. Over the years, the name has become synonymous with refrigerant, as has happened with Kleenex and tissue.
The refrigerant is an essential part of any air conditioner. As air passes from inside your room into the air conditioner, it passes over coils containing refrigerant. The refrigerant is responsible for cooling and dehumidifying the air.
The evaporator and condenser coils containing the refrigerant provide a sealed system, allowing Freon to last forever. The refrigerant does not get used up. It remains within the coils unless there is a leak.
The typical central air conditioning unit in a medium to large-size home contains about 5 to 15 pounds of refrigerant. Suppliers often charge per pound of refrigerant along with service charges and fees for refilling the Freon.
Refilling an AC system with refrigerant is often called “charging” or “recharging” the air conditioner. If you need to add refrigerant to your AC system, you have a leak. Without addressing the problem, you will continue to need Freon for your air conditioner unit.
The Cost of Refrigerant Depends on Your AC System
If you have a leak and need to charge your AC system with Freon, there are several factors that influence the cost, starting with the age of your air conditioner.
The Freon brand produces the top two refrigerants used in almost every residential air conditioning system. For several decades, R-22 was the most commonly used option. However, researchers discovered that R-22 was harmful to the ozone layer.
The government then created a system to slowly phase out the use of R-22 by 2020 and replace it with a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. Freon released R-410A as the replacement. Almost all residential AC systems produced after 2010 use R-410A while older systems may still depend on R-22.
The average cost for R-410A is about $10 per pound when buying a cylinder of refrigerant. If you hire an HVAC technician to inspect your AC system and refill the Freon, you may pay $30 to $50 per pound. For an AC system that requires five pounds of Freon, you could expect to pay between $150 and $250. These were also the average costs of R-22 less than a decade ago.
As production of R-22 has slowed, the costs have increased. You can now expect to pay up to $750 to refill five pounds of Freon.
Paying Technicians to Repair Refrigerant Leaks
Along with the type of Freon that your AC system uses, the cost is affected by the amount of Freon you need and whether the HVAC technician performs any repairs.
As mentioned, your AC system should not need to be recharged unless there is a leak in the coils. There are many HVAC technicians who will gladly refill the Freon in an AC system each year as repairing the leak would mean that you no longer need them to supply refrigerant.
If a technician determines that your AC system requires refrigerant, the most economical option is to determine the source of the leak and then repair it. While you may pay an extra $100 o $250 for these repairs, the repairs could save you $150 to $750 annually, depending on the type of Freon used in your system and the size of the leak.
Keep in mind that damage to the coil itself may not be repairable. While a technician may repair leaks that occur near connection points, the coils themselves are not easy to repair. Replacement is typically recommended, which can cost between $1200 and $3000, depending on the type of AC system.
Preventing Freon Leaks and the Need for Refills
While the air conditioner evaporator and condenser coils are designed to hold the refrigerant and eliminate the need for refills, leaks are inevitable. Natural wear and tear will eventually cause the insides of the coils to thin until a leak develops. While this may take a decade or longer to occur, there are other causes of refrigerant leaks.
If the coils contain too much or too little refrigerant, the risk of a leak increases. Recharging the refrigerant should only be performed by a qualified HVAC technician to avoid this problem.
You also keep hedges and plants trimmed away from the condenser unit installed outside your house. The plant growth may eventually reach the AC system and damage parts that may increase the risk of a leak in the condenser coils.
Dog urine is another potential danger to your AC system. As the urine is acidic, it can cause additional wear on the coils.
How Do You Know If Your AC System Needs Freon?
Allowing the leak to go untreated can lead to more damage to the AC system by reducing its efficiency and forcing it to work harder to keep your home cool. This can also allow the leak to become more severe, resulting in more costly repairs and the need for additional Freon.
Early detection of a leak may help reduce the cost of repairs. The most common sign that your air conditioner system requires Freon is if it takes longer than normal for the unit to cool the air in your home. Along with taking longer to cool the air, the AC system will take longer to dehumidify the air.
Another sign of a refrigerant leak is the formation of ice on the evaporator coils. When the refrigerant levels are low, the pressure drops, which causes the evaporator coils to get incredibly cold. As air returns to the AC system, the moisture from the air freezes on the evaporator coil.
In the end, if you need to add Freon to your air conditioner system, you also have a leak. Recharging your AC system with Freon is not cheap. By repairing the leak or replacing the coils, you may avoid the need to purchase more Freon each year.
When you detect the signs of low refrigerant levels, do not hesitate to contact a certified technician to inspect and repair your AC system.