So, what exactly is refrigerant?
Do you know how your air conditioner works? In your cooling equipment there is a series of components that must work together in order to transfer heat from one air stream to another. This part of your air conditioner (or heat pump) that performs this heat transfer is your refrigerant. Think of it as the blood of your heating and air conditioning system.
Now to get techy for a sec. For split systems, refrigerant is pressurized and pumped through your cooling system. When in your condenser (the outside part of your air conditioner) the refrigerant cools down – transferring heat to the air stream outside. If you’ve ever stood by your air conditioner, you’ll notice that it actually blow out HOT air. Then, when the refrigerant makes its way through your lineset and into your evaporator coil, the refrigerant warms up and heat is transferred from the air being blown over the coil to the refrigerant. This is what results in the cool air that is delivered throughout your home. No refrigerant. No cool air.
Did you know that the industry has been transitioning from a particular type of refrigerant to the next? If you have an older system, chances are your air conditioner uses R-22. Unfortunately, this old refrigerant type contains chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). You may have heard of this pesky little compound before. When introduced to our atmosphere it depletes the ozone layer. Because of this, it is being phased out gradually and being replaced with R-410A refrigerant (the more eco-friendly option).
So, what does this new type of refrigerant mean? Well, this is part of the reason it is so important to not just change out your condenser when your are buying a new cooling system. You must also replace the lineset and indoor evaporator coil. This is because R-410A requires different specifications that can’t be monitored effectively by old equipment that is compatible with R-22 – this could result in improper function, reduced efficiency and repairs down the road (you are just going to have to replace those components anyway AND, maybe, in addition to another new air conditioning condenser).