Refrigerant gas is essential to the function of air conditioning systems – without it, aircon units would merely circulate hot air through the room. That’s why with every regular use and through time, the need to top it up is important to ensure that the aircon will remain in tip-top shape.
Gas replenishment is a process most aircon experts refer to as aircon gas topping. It's such an essential part of ensuring the overall effectiveness of an aircon that technicians recommend doing it once a year.
In this article, we will be debunking the myths and misconceptions about aircon gas topping — and how often you should do it.
#1. Aircon Gas Toppings Aren't Necessary
Some people think that because aircon machines use a closed loop system, the initial aircon gas will never require the need to be replaced. If you're not familiar with a closed loop system, it's a control system where the output gets fed back into the system, as an input, to generate even more output. It's a cyclical process that doesn't usually require external effort.
As time passes, some of the metal used in creating your aircon unit will get eroded, due to the formation of formic acid in the unit. This erosion causes small holes to form, which allows Refrigerant gas to escape.
If you neglect aircon upkeep, these holes will only get bigger, and sooner or later there'll be no coolant left to keep your home cool. At most, you'll be left with an aircon that blows the same hot air you're trying to escape from the outdoors.
#2. Aircon Gas Topping isn't Part of Regular Maintenance
This misconception originated partly because some people don't understand what a regular aircon maintenance entails. But this was before the age of the internet. Today, most aircon check-up services know to fully state what a regular service entails because a quick Google search will show what other companies are offering.
In fact, due to the way aircons are designed, one of the first things a professional technician does is to top up the Refrigerant gas. The technician will initially examine the unit to determine that there are no leakages. This is done by flushing the system, before replenishing your gas supply. In other words, it's Aircon 101!
#3. It is Very Easy to do
Contrary to popular belief, aircon servicing isn't an easy DIY project. Although some people with mechanical experience and knowledge might have the slightest idea about what they're doing, a professional expert is still needed to ensure all proper safety requirements are met. Besides, there's only so much upkeep an unqualified person can do before the whole process loses its appeal, and nuts and bolts begin to go missing!
Aircons are made of different parts. The filter, for example, is relatively easy to reach, so it's technically possible for anyone to clean it. Once the aircon has been disconnected, you can dust it off with a vacuum cleaner, and some soapy water afterwards. (Important: Be careful when cleaning so you don't distort the original shape of this part.)
Meanwhile, the central and electrostatic units are a little more difficult for the average Joe to maintain. Any slight damage to the electrostatic unit can cause the aircon to go out of commission. Checking the tightness of a circuit, as well as the pressure of the gas coolant is a task that's out of the league for most aircon owners. The last thing you'd want to happen is to DIY your scheduled maintenance and end up spoiling something in the process, or worse, forgetting to check some parts and then resume using your aircon. When it gets bad, you surely won't like the repair cost!
#4. It Doesn't Help in Decreasing Energy Consumption
The question behind this myth is "how does a well-maintained aircon save energy?" That is, what effect will the lack of proper aircon care have on the energy being consumed? It seems like your energy bill should remain the same once the aircon's in use, regardless of whether your gas is low or not. Here's where this myth errs:
When your Refrigerant gas becomes low, it takes a lot longer for your aircon to cool down a room. If it used to take 30 minutes for your room temperature to drop to bearable levels, and now takes 2 hours, it should be a clear indication that your energy consumption is high. Topping up your gas means it can return to cooling faster, thereby decreasing your energy consumption. The only way to expend less energy when your gas is low is to not turn it on.
Nevertheless, a low gas level should not cause any panic. Just seek the services of a professional aircon expert, and you should be right as rain! Keep these points in mind:
1. Low gas levels are caused by gas leaks which can easily be fixed
2. The sooner you discover the leakage, and the newer your aircon is, the easier it will be to fix
#5. Failure to do Aircon Gas Topping isn't Pricey
You know the myth about ostriches burying their heads in the sand, hoping their problems will just disappear? It doesn't work with air conditioning. Failure to top your aircon gas will result in bigger problems for you and your wallet.
#6. It Can Be Done Without Professional Help
If you have nothing at all to do with your time, attempting aircon maintenance by yourself can seem pretty alluring because it will cost you nothing. However, if done without proper measures, the act of doing it yourself can spiral into an even greater cost.
Lastly, consider your safety. If your aircon is placed in an accident-prone area, it might be better to defer to the experts. Not only will they have the right equipment to reach these areas safely, they are also well-trained to take on situations that pose different risk hazards.
#7. Your Aircon Can Function Well Without It
Like expecting your vehicle to function well without regular upkeep, this misconception is another notorious example of common aircon myths that we can easily debunk. Your aircon might run perfectly for the first few months, but with regular use and lack of proper care, it will eventually start to falter and require your utmost attention — or worse, your wallet.
Unlike vehicles, aircon units don't usually have lights that signal when things are going bad. You'll just notice one day that instead of bringing down your room temperature, your aircon will be blowing hot air instead. So schedule a servicing appointment with your trusted aircon expert to prevent any unwanted expenses.
#8. It is Not Connected With The Overall Performance of an Aircon
Aircons account for about 40% of all energy consumption in Singapore. Part of the reason why this figure is so high is because most people only think about servicing when something goes wrong with their air conditioning machines. That is, they wait until the gas levels of their aircons are so low they become energy inefficient. Only then do they contact an aircon technician.
That's medicine after death. Aircon care is meant to be done as a preventive measure against a shorter lifespan and unwanted expenses.
In terms of performance, it'll be impossible not to feel the difference between a well-serviced aircon, and one that's just hanging on. For example, aircons that haven't been serviced, or used in a long time tend to produce a musty odor that results from accumulated dust. The performance will be subpar at best, or give you health-related problems, at worst.
1. When your aircon no longer blows cold air
When your aircon starts displaying signs of warm air levels, it’s time to consider the possibility of having your aircon gas topped up. To further put this to the test, you can put your hand in front of the vent and examine it closely. If it blows the slightest hint of warm air, you need to contact a professional as soon as possible.
2. When Water Starts Leaking From the Aircon
Water leaking from your aircon means vaporization can't take place properly. And the primary reasons vaporization isn't taking place may be because there isn't sufficient gas to complete the process.
3. Overall Poor Performance
Aircons are meant to be felt, not heard. If yours makes noise, then there's probably something wrong.
4. Ice Depositing on Coils
Some issues can't be discerned with the naked eyes, like ice deposits on the aircon's coils. Without regular upkeep to detect and fix this, slightly frozen coils may lead to corrosion within the aircon unit. The only way to avoid this is to preempt it with standard aircon care procedures.
5. When the Aircon Goes On and Off
If the aircon's power keeps flickering on and off, there isn't a ghost in your home, you just need an expert to look at it.
6. When the Aircon Runs Continuously
Aircons come with regulators that test the room temperature, thereby adjusting its cooling system to save energy. If your air conditioner isn't regulating itself, because it doesn't think the room is cooling down, then it’s a sign that there’s a problem. For this, you may check and closely examine how well the aircon’s thermostat is functioning before concluding that you need an aircon gas top up.
7. When Recommended by An Aircon Technician or Expert
This is a no-brainer. If an expert tells you that your aircon gas needs to be topped up, it does.
Bottom line? An aircon gas top up should be done regularly, along with periodical maintenance, because of the following:
Just a 10% drop in your gas can lead to a 20% increase in your electricity bill, so don't put off maintenance.
Oasis Aircon is a leading Singaporean aircon service provider, partnering with one of the most trusted local home and office cleaning groups in the country — the Luce Maintenance Group. Oasis Aircon offers a broad range of services for aircon owners in Singapore, including aircon repair, aircon chemical wash, aircon installation, and gas top up services for different unit types. Each service is priced competitively to ensure you're motivated to keep your aircon performing at its peak.