When your air conditioner has suddenly decided not to function properly, and it is still hotter than Hades in your house, you call for AC repair services. The technician will note that it appears that your refrigerant is low. He or she may even offer "refrigerant top-ups", but are top-ups on refrigerant really worth it? Most repair technicians will tell you they're not. Here are a few reasons why just adding refrigerant to the appliance is not a good idea:

It Is Just a Bandage for a Bigger Problem

If there is not enough refrigerant present in your A/C system, there is probably something wrong with the system as a whole. Refrigerant does not simply disappear and evaporate from an air conditioner; it has to leak out of it. While the idea of adding more refrigerant sounds like a solution, what you really need to do is find the source of the leak. Your technician offers top-ups when you are desperate for cool air in the house and cannot afford a hefty repair bill, but even he/she knows this is a temporary fix.

When You Have a Leak, the Refrigerant Affects the Environment

Most refrigerants are not exactly environmentally friendly. The EPA may give them the green light for use in appliances because the refrigerants are contained, but only when the refrigerants are contained. If your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, where is that substance going? You guessed it: right into the ground or the air. If you top-up, more of it will leak out into the environment. That is just a bad idea all around.

You Will Just Have to Keep "Topping up" All Summer

A top-up on refrigerant is not cheap. Yes, it is still cheaper than many air conditioning repairs, financially speaking. However, if you have to top-up on refrigerant during an especially hot summer and you end up topping up eight times or more, you could easily have bought a new unit!

A top-up can last anywhere from a week to a month, depending on how hot it gets and how continuous you run your A/C. Newer refrigerants, like freon, can last much longer, but only if there are no leaks inside your unit. If you do the math, you can make a much better decision about your air conditioner, which includes everything from repairing and replacing parts to installing a gently-used unit for less money. For more information, contact companies like Shakley Mechanical Inc.