Your air conditioner (AC) needs refrigerant to absorb heat inside the house and dump it outside. The refrigerant runs in a closed-loop system, so its level shouldn't decrease unless there is a leakage somewhere in the system. Below are some of the signs that might mean your AC has lost some refrigerant.
The Vents Blowing Warm Air
The supply vents distribute cool air to different parts of the house. However, the AC needs refrigerant to cool the air first. The refrigerant absorbs heat inside the house and dumps it outside via heat exchange with the outside air.
With a low refrigerant, the AC will be running but not cooling the air. The AC fan will still run so the vents will have air in them, but the air will be warm instead of cool.
The House Is Not Cool
You don't have to be near the vents to suspect that your AC is low on refrigerant. A cooling inefficiency, for example, that leaves your house warmer than it should be or triggers cold and warm spots in the house, is also a telltale sign of low refrigerant. Your house might not even reach the temperature on the thermostat.
The AC Runs All the Time
A good AC operates in on and off cycles. The AC runs during active cooling when the temperature in the thermostat is higher lower than the room temperature. The AC stops cooling if the thermostat and room temperatures match.
With low temperature, however, the AC will take a longer time than usual to lower the room temperature to the set temperature — it might not even accomplish it. Thus, the AC will be running all or most of the time.
Your Electricity Bill Is Unusually High
The AC uses electrical energy to move refrigerant around and force air throughout the house. As mentioned above, the AC will struggle to cool the house and increase its run cycles if its refrigerant level is low. The more the AC runs, the more electricity it uses. You might notice a higher energy bill at the end of the month if you don't fix the problem.
The Coils Have Ice All Over Them
The heat that the refrigerant carries out of the house also helps to keep the refrigerant lines and coil warm. With a low refrigerant level, the lines and coil also remain cold. Moist air will then condense and deposit their moisture on the coil and lines. If you don't fix the situation fast, the condense moisture will freeze, leading to the accumulation of ice on the affected parts of the AC.
Talk to a residential AC service to learn more.