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Anyone who has a central air conditioner is at risk for a dangerous new practice called refrigerant huffing. People, primarily teens, have started to inhale A/C refrigerants to get high. Refrigerants are toxic, and the effects can be deadly or have long-term health consequences. It’s also not good for your air conditioner, because running the system with low levels can damage your air conditioner, or at the very least seriously reduce its efficiency.

The easiest way to prevent someone from accessing the refrigerant in your outdoor A/C condenser is to install a safety cap on the fill valve for the refrigerant. These caps lock and require a key to remove. When you install a lock, you’re keeping the refrigerant out of the hands of an abuser and protecting your equipment at the same time.

If your A/C is costing more to run or not performing as it should, having an HVAC contractor test the refrigerant pressure is a good idea. When the system doesn’t have enough refrigerant, it works harder to achieve the cooling you need. Eventually, it will quit altogether, and in our extremely hot climate, it’s difficult to be without air conditioning for even a few hours.

Should the technician find that your pressure is low and no leaks exist in the coils or other components, you may have been the victim of refrigerant huffing. Refrigerant does not disappear from systems unless the valve has been tampered with or you have leaks.

If you have R-22 refrigerant (sometimes referred to as Freon) in your air conditioner, it could cost you a good deal to have it replaced, since its production is limited by the EPA. R-22 is also the most toxic of all refrigerant compounds, so it’s even more important to install safety caps on systems that use this type.

If you would like more information about protecting your air conditioner, contact NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating. We provide quality HVAC services in Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach and Indian River counties.

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