Although you have not changed the thermostat setting for your air conditioner, you may have noticed that the ambient temperature in your home seems warmer than it normally feels. If so, look for the following signs that the issue may be caused by a low refrigerant level inside your central air conditioning unit.
1. AC Unit Constantly Freezes Up
While it may seem as though it should be the opposite way, you may find that your unit freezes up as the refrigerant level gets lower. After all, the air in your house is warmer, so you may believe that the temperature inside the unit should also stay warm when there is not enough coolant to keep the air cool.
However, if the refrigerant level gets low, it will flow through the AC's compressor unevenly. There will be periods where no coolant is passing through the lines. Then, strong bursts of the refrigerant will enter the compressor, causing a sharp decrease in the temperature inside.
When this happens, the air around the lines and compressor become frigid, causing any moisture to freeze. Especially at night, the frozen moisture will cause a buildup of ice that then stalls the AC unit.
2. Energy Bills Seemingly Rise for No Reason
Another sign that the refrigerant level in your central AC unit is low is when you start noticing a marked increase in your energy bills. Even if you are not running the unit any more than normal and the temperature outside is not extremely hot, you may not find any other reason why the bills are on the rise.
Even though the levels of refrigerant are low, your thermostat is still sending signals to the unit that the temperature is still not cool enough. As a result, the unit's compressor will continue to run even though it is not pushing as much cool air through the system and into your home. Because the unit is constantly running, it will use up more energy, thus causing the spike you see on your monthly bills.
If you suspect that your AC unit's refrigerant is low, you should have the unit looked at by a professional as soon as possible. Since refrigerant usually does not decrease on its own, you most likely have a leak somewhere within the lines or condenser. Contact a contractor who provides HVAC services to have them repair any leaks they may find upon inspection and refill the refrigerant.