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Prevent Refrigerant Huffing With A Cap On Your A/C Service Valve

Recently, a new type of substance abuse has emerged among teens that may have a direct effect on your electric bill and your cooling system’s efficiency. Refrigerant huffing is on the rise, and it involves removing the cap on your service valve on the outdoor condenser. Abusers either inhale the refrigerant onsite or capture it in a bag to use later.

You may be at risk, especially if your condenser sits on the ground. Huffing refrigerant is physically dangerous and can be fatal. If not, it can damage the heart, lungs and brain in the long term. Running your home’s air conditioner or heat pump with low refrigerant levels is also hard on it. The easiest way to stop refrigerant huffing is to install a locking safety cap on the service valve.

Considering how long we run our systems and how much we need them, installing the safety cap sooner rather than later is a good idea, especially if your system uses R-22 or Freon. The cost of R-22 is rising in response to supply shortages brought on by the phaseout of this refrigerant. R-22 is also the most dangerous of all refrigerants to people and the environment.

When you run your A/C with low refrigerant, it has to work harder to cool your home. Your electric bill will go up and the parts, particularly the compressor, wear faster. When the refrigerant drops too low, the A/C won’t run at all, leaving you with an exceedingly hot house that you may not be able to occupy until you get your A/C fixed.

The easiest solution is to contact an HVAC professional who can test the pressure in your system and check for leaks in the refrigerant coils or connections. He’ll fix any that he finds but if there are no leaks and your pressure is low, you may be a victim of huffing. Putting the safety cap on it stops the problem.

If you’d like more information about protecting your system from refrigerant huffing, contact Wolff Mechanical. We’ve provided HVAC services in the Phoenix metro area since 1978.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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