Tell-Tale Signs Of An Overcharged Air Conditioner

image of an hvac contractor examining an overcharged air conditioning unit

More is not always superior. Too much of anything could be just as bad as too little, as in the case of overcharged cooling systems. The need to process excessive refrigerant can damage air conditioning units over time. Stick to their ideal parameters to avoid problems and prolong equipment lifespan. Read on to learn more about overcharged AC symptoms and the dangers of this problem.

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Tell-Tale Signs of An Overcharged Air Conditioner

The refrigerant is the lifeblood of a cooling system. It carries heat out of the home, gradually reducing the indoor temperature with each cycle. It may be tempting to add more of the substance for faster cooling, but this can backfire if the amount exceeds what the AC is designed to handle.

Only a certified, experienced HVAC technician should handle something as dangerous as a refrigerant. However, it is not uncommon for amateur technicians to make mistakes when charging refrigerant in an air conditioning system. As a homeowner, you should know what to look for. Below are the common signs of an overcharged air conditioner:

1. Soaring Energy Bills

woman with tablet pc calculating expensive energy bills

After using an air conditioner for a while, you gradually get used to its energy needs and the corresponding cost. It may fluctuate over time, but not by much. If your energy bill suddenly jumps much higher, then something may be wrong with the AC. Did this happen after you had work done on the cooling system? Then consider the possibility that your unit was overcharged.

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2. Elevated Heat Discharge

Part of HVAC ownership is regular maintenance, such as trimming the foliage around the outdoor unit for good airflow. Use this as an opportunity to check on the equipment. It is normal for this to produce hot air, but if the air that feels extremely hot compared to the usual, it is a sign of an overworked system. Possible causes include dirty air filters, clogged blowers, and excessive refrigerant.

3. Frozen Air Conditioning Coils

frozen air conditioner in summer

Sometimes air conditioners can get so cold that the coils freeze up. This requires expert investigation to come up with the right course of action. It can be confusing for untrained individuals because both extremes are problematic: having a low amount of refrigerant can trigger ice formation, but so can an excessive amount of refrigerant. The best way to pinpoint the real culprit is to call a professional technician.

4. Noisy Air Conditioner Compressor

image of homeowner covering ears due to loud air conditioner noises

It is not unusual for the compressor to make some noise, but owners quickly get used to the normal sounds made when switching on or off. They also know how it hums when in operation. If it suddenly makes odd noises such as loud squealing, then something isn’t right. This may be due to the system having trouble with the abundance of high-pressure liquid refrigerant.

5. Sudden Cooling System Shutdown

Engineers anticipate dangers to the cooling system when designing equipment. They include safety switches that can trigger a sudden system shutdown to prevent damage. Too much refrigerant is one of the things that can harm the air conditioner and activate this kind of response. Before you switch it on again, get an HVAC technician to check the unit and figure out the exact cause.

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6. Uneven Air Conditioner Pressure Levels

Excess refrigerant can result in uneven pressure levels around the air conditioning unit. It’s one of the best signs to watch out for, but ordinary homeowners are unlikely to know how to conduct the measurements. Call a technician to perform an inspection for you if you suspect that this is the problem plaguing your equipment. It is an objective way to get a conclusive answer.

How an Air Conditioner Gets Excessive Refrigerant

Inadequate refrigerant is easy to explain: your AC used to have an ample amount, but coolant leaks slowly drained the substance. Plug the leaks and recharge to get back to normal. As for too much refrigerant, the problem may have started in the following ways:

1. Faulty Air Conditioner Installation

image of a bad air conditioner installation depicting ac coolant overcharge

It is possible that this started at the very beginning. When installing a new system, rely on trusted professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Their work will determine the performance, efficiency, and longevity of the HVAC equipment. If they put in too much refrigerant, then your cooling system will be plagued with issues.

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2. Amateur Air Conditioning Repairs

Some homeowners call on amateurs for repairs to save a few bucks. The results will depend on luck since these are not as knowledgeable as certified technicians. Some might finish refrigerant leak repairs by overcharging the system. Note that the law restricts refrigerant handling and disposal to licensed HVAC professionals.

Consequences of Having an Overcharged Air Conditioning Unit

1. Poor Cooling Equipment Performance & Efficiency

feeling hot and sticky due to high humidity levels

If the cooling system was overcharged, then you might become unhappy with the performance of the equipment. Its ability to cool and remove humidity from indoor spaces will diminish, which is particularly frustrating during the summer. The system will also have a hard time converting all the refrigerant from gas to liquid, and vice versa. Efficiency will plummet until this is corrected.

2. Faulty Air Conditioner Valves & Connecting Rods

Some of the excess refrigerant may escape into the compressor’s cylinders while in its liquid state. This may lead to damaged valves because these are not designed to handle the situation. The connecting rods can also become faulty. Certified HVAC technicians should check the problem as soon as possible, or else this might simply get worse.

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3. Air Conditioner Compressor Motor Burnout

Some of the liquid refrigerant can also leak into the crankcase and mix with the oil. This will make the crankcase pressure shoot up. The compressor motor will not be able to take the stress for too long. Eventually, the motor will burn out and become inoperable. When this happens, you will be left with no other choice but to replace the entire cooling system.

What a Homeowner Should Do

An air conditioner refrigerant overcharge is dangerous. If you suspect that your air conditioner is suffering from this problem, then turn it off right away and get help from an experienced HVAC technician. A certified technician will know how to calculate the right refrigerant level and perform the correction. Appropriate solutions will also be applied to damaged areas for a quick return to normalcy.



Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to air conditioner installations and repairs. Amateurs may charge less, but their unpolished work may generate problems in the future. They are likely to overcharge systems, forcing you to hire professionals to clean up the mess. Go straight to certified technicians from the beginning to avoid headaches and enjoy stress-free ownership.

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McAllister EnergyMcAllister Energy offers superior heating and cooling services in Camden County, New Jersey. We hire the best-certified technicians who can provide you with excellent HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each of our techs has the knowledge and experience to service your HVAC system correctly.

McAllister Energy guarantees the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in the area. Our maintenance services can improve your comfort, increase your energy efficiency while reducing your home heating and cooling costs. If you happen to need an HVAC repair or replacement system, we can recommend the best one for your home while staying within your budget. We back all of our work with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. To schedule a service appointment, give McAllister Energy a call today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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