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Recharge an air conditioner: a how-to guide

A step-by-step guide on how to recharge an air conditioner. And if you prefer, connection to professional contractors in your area.

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Recharge an air conditioner. Photo by MPBecker on Flickr.You don't need to be a licensed HVAC specialist to recharge an air conditioner, but you do have to have an idea of what you're doing. The pressure and the refrigerant within the air conditioner are dangerous.

If you're having central air conditioning problems, you can start with central air troubleshooting techniques, such as checking the wires, the filter and the thermostat. In most cases, your unit just needs to be recharged.

Before you begin this project, find out what type of refrigerant your unit uses and obtain the correct type. If you use the wrong type of refrigerant, it won't work properly and can damage your air conditioner. 

Find quality contractors! Ask about recharging an air conditioner and new AC quotes!

The first thing you need to do before you recharge an air conditioner is to protect yourself. You should wear protective gear, including a mask, gloves and eye goggles, because air conditioners have toxic refrigerant materials within them. You will also need a few tools, including:

    • Screwdriver.
    • Pliers.
    • Wrench.
    • A Freon kit. 

If you'd rather not take on this project yourself, you can hire a professional contractor to recharge an air conditioner. A contractor will provide you with an air conditioner estimate prior to doing the service. While at your house, the contractor may suggest that you replace the air conditioner. He will be able to tell you how to choose an air conditioner and how to look for a great warranty.

To get started:

    • Use your air conditioner unit's manual to locate the compressor. You will see two lines outside of the compressor, and the compressor itself is a metal cylinder.
    • Take the Freon kit and locate the service valve, which is the largest connector valve in the package.
    • Plug the service valve into one of the compressor lines in your air conditioner. The Freon kit will include instructions for you to follow in order to correctly plug in the service valve.
    • Next, look for the small valve connector in the Freon kit, which is called the tap valve. Plug this valve into the other compressor line.
    • Follow the instructions on how to do this properly. 

With the plugs in place, you can start charging the Freon. To do this, turn on the air conditioner to the highest setting. This forces the Freon to flow into your unit and charges the unit at the same time.

Now that the Freon is flowing freely, it's time to add Freon to the lines. Follow the instructions in the Freon kit to attach the Freon container to the two valves you installed on the compressor. Once this is secured, the air conditioner will do all the work to force the Freon into the unit.

When all the Freon has been transferred to the air conditioner, turn off the unit, remove the Freon container, and take off the two valves you installed on the compressor. 

If you think its too late to recharge your air conditioner and need a new AC unit, hire a contractor from Reply! Our contractors are licensed and professional.

Get your 4 free cooling estimates!

Photo credit: MPBecker via Compfight CC.