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Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc. Blog

AC Refrigerant: A Brief History

Refrigerant is a core part of air conditioning, and it’s something that has even been mentioned in the news in the past few years. As heat pumps become more popular in our area, refrigerant becomes the center of the discussion because of how much is required to meet American AC needs.

Air conditioning in Cedar Rapids, IA is no different. Each system in our area runs using a specific type of refrigerant, and the model that you use will dictate that difference. But what if the prices of refrigerants change in the future? And how do you know if your refrigerant has been phased out before a problem arrives?

Now you’re speaking our language! Keep reading to learn about refrigerants. We’ll talk about what it is, what it does, the major types, and what the future holds for this interesting chemical.

The History of Refrigerant

When air conditioners were first invented, they relied on a material that was called “Freon” in order to run properly. Scientists quickly discovered that water and other naturally occurring substances couldn’t be used as refrigerant because it took too much energy and pressure for them to function properly. Halocarbons, however, could be evaporated and condensed at easy-to-meet pressure thresholds which made them prime for transferring heat.

This is where Freon was created, and it quickly became the world’s most common air conditioning refrigerant.

How Refrigerant Works

Refrigerant works by evaporating and condensing in a cycle. When refrigerant evaporates, it draws in heat which cools the surrounding atmosphere. Then, it travels to a condenser unit where it condenses, releasing that heat somewhere else. Constantly taking heat out of your home means it gets cooled down. This is how an AC works.

In order for refrigerant to be properly evaporated and condensed, it needs to be pressurized and depressurized, a process that involves a system that’s aptly named the compressor. These components all work together to cool your home, or in the case of a heat pump, heat it as well.

The Future of Refrigerant

Eventually, it became clear that Freon wasn’t good for the environment. It’s a dense gas that can cause serious environmental issues when it eventually leaks into the environment. That’s when R-410A or “Puron” was invented in the 21st century. This material can still do the job that Freon can, without any of the hazardous environmental impacts (with an added bonus of it being non-toxic).

But this has now started a refrigerant arms race! Many reputable AC manufacturers are working hard to develop the next refrigerant that will take over the market without doing as much environmental damage as their predecessors.

How We Can Help

Older air conditioners that run on Freon can be tricky and require replacement. Newer systems that run on Puron can also run into problems that require repair. Our team provides both repairs and replacements, especially when you’ve run into a refrigerant leak. If you think your system is running low on refrigerant, or you’re concerned about refrigerant leaking into your home, call our team for help.

At Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc., your comfort is our promise! To set up an appointment in the Cedar Rapids area, give us a call at the number above, email or schedule an appointment online. 

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