Too Much Refrigerant In Your AC? This Is What Happens

AC tech checking thermostatAir conditioners reduce indoor temperatures by cycling a special fluid through a system of refrigeration lines. That fluid, called a refrigerant, has an extremely low boiling point of around minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

As it expands into vapor, it absorbs thermal energy from the surrounding air and carries it outdoors where it dissipates through a condenser coil. Its expansion into vapor is called an endothermic reaction, meaning “heat going into,” and its compression back into liquid is called an exothermic reaction, meaning “heat going out of.”

The alternation between these two states is the process that cools an air-conditioned space. It requires a delicate balance of equipment and materials, which is why HVAC technicians need years of training before they’re qualified to perform AC tune-up services.

How Does an AC System Cool Your House?

When the indoor temperature rises above your thermostat’s set temperature, it activates the cooling cycle, which causes the system to evaporate its liquid into a vapor and pass it through the compressor. That endothermic reaction absorbs heat from the indoor air and passes it outdoors through lines traveling to the condenser unit.

This intricate process depends on a precise level of liquid expanding and condensing within the compressor. Air conditioning manufacturers employ mechanical engineers to design their systems with a narrow range of acceptable refrigerant levels, and technicians must adhere to these specifications when servicing AC systems.

If the level becomes too high or low, it will destabilize the system, causing a wide range of potentially serious problems. After several months of operating outside the manufacturer-recommended range, an AC system can completely break down, requiring replacement.

How Do AC Systems Become Overcharged?

The only way for too much fluid to enter an AC system is for a repair person to put it there. Adding refrigerant to an AC is called “charging” the system, and adding too much is called “overcharging.”

During an inspection or maintenance call, an inexperienced repair person may overcharge the system without knowing it. Alternatively, they may believe the problem will work itself out over time.

Unfortunately, the problem won’t work itself out, but it will overtax the system and cause it to rapidly deteriorate. Whether the system is overcharged or undercharged, it will display many of the same symptoms, eventually wearing out the compressor.

To avoid this scenario, it’s important to work with a trained, reliable technician who can properly gauge the level of fluid in your system and refill it accordingly. Charging the system isn’t a job for an amateur repair technician because a mistake could be expensive.

How Can You Correct the Problem?

If your AC is overcharged, the safest way to fix it is to call a professional HVAC technician for repairs. It’s important to schedule a service call as soon as you notice unusual behavior coming from your AC because the damage can be irreversible.

At Mister Greenway, we offer fast, reliable repairs for overcharged AC systems. We’ll ensure that your system is operating at factory specifications before we’re done.

Inexperienced technicians sometimes drive up their customers’ bills by putting too much refrigerant in the system. You won’t ever have to worry about that problem with us because our technicians are fully trained, licensed and insured.

What Are the Signs of an Overcharge?

Fortunately, it’s easy to recognize when an AC is overcharged. The signs are usually obvious, and you’ll know your AC needs repairs when it stops cooling your house.

Frosted Condenser

.Whether your system is overcharged or undercharged, your condenser can become covered in frost. In either case, the system is overworking to move thermal energy outside, causing your AC’s outdoor components to get too cold.

If the problem is overcharging, frost can be a sign of major damage to the system. With immediate attention from a trained professional, you could avoid an expensive replacement.

Squealing Noises

Loud, high-pitched noises are a sign that your AC is circulating too much refrigerant to fully vaporize it during each cycle. This condition is called “slugging,” and it causes noises when liquid enters the compressor chamber. The fluid should be in vapor form when it reaches this point in the cycle, and then it will condense back into a liquid.

Slugging can cause expensive problems over time, including the complete failure of the compressor. If the compressor fails, the entire AC will typically need replacement, so it’s important to address this problem as soon as it arises.


If your AC system is discharging excessive heat, it’s an indication that the endothermic reaction is too weak to adequately move thermal energy outside. When overheating occurs, it’s one of the first signs of an overcharged system, and more severe problems could soon follow.

Inefficient Cooling and Rising Energy Bills

Excess fluid will force your system to work too hard to cool your living space, resulting in higher indoor temperatures even as your utility bills increase. Not only will your AC use more energy, but it will wear out more quickly, as well. Because inefficient cooling could indicate any of several serious problems, you should call a professional for an inspection as soon as you notice it.

Automatic Shutdowns

Your AC may have an automatic shutoff feature that prevents it from breaking down when it gets overheated. If your AC regularly shuts off during the hottest part of the day, it could be overcharged and on the verge of a breakdown. A technician from Mister Greenway can inspect your system and accurately diagnose the problem.

Uneven Pressure Throughout the System

Uneven fluid pressure is a tricky problem to diagnose and repair. It requires a trained technician to perform an inspection with the proper equipment. This problem can indicate slugging in the compressor, meaning your AC is in urgent need of repairs. It’s not possible to detect this problem without the proper equipment, so it’s important to call a qualified repair person for the job.

AC Installation Service

At Mister Greenway, we offer flawless AC installation services with inspections, maintenance and repairs for the lifetime of the system. When your AC shows any signs of being overcharged, we’ll fully inspect the system and give you an honest assessment. Our AC repair options are convenient and affordable.

If you need a new AC, we’ll ensure that the installation goes smoothly so that you won’t have to live in a stuffy house any longer than necessary. Whether you need us to perform a full installation or simply replace a single part, you can count on us to do the job correctly the first time.

Mister Greenway techGetting a Professional AC Tune-Up

An AC tune-up can significantly increase the lifespan of your system. With regular maintenance and repairs, your AC could last 20 years or longer. Most maintenance calls are relatively inexpensive with major repairs coming more frequently as your system ages.

By the time your compressor stops working, you’ll need a whole new system, so it makes sense to take care of your AC throughout its service cycle. Calling a professional technician to perform the scheduled maintenance can save you thousands of dollars on future repairs and energy bills.

When it comes to AC service, you can always trust us at Mister Greenway. We work with experienced professionals who take pride in delivering great customer service. Call us today to learn more.