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

Posted On: August 08, 2012

If high summer temperatures have been giving your air conditioner a workout, but it seems your home has become difficult to cool and your energy bills are rising, you might be a victim of refrigerant huffing. Drug abusers, mainly teens, have started inhaling air conditioner refrigerant to get high. Not only is it hard on your air conditioner, it can be deadly for the abuser. 

The easiest way to stop the practice is to have a locking safety cap installed on the service valve of your outdoor condenser. HVAC technicians use the service valve to adjust the amount of refrigerant in your system. Abusers remove the cap on the valve and either huff the refrigerant onsite or capture it in a bag for later use. If you startle someone who is actively huffing, the combination of adrenalin and refrigerant in the body may be enough to stop the heart.

Even if you don’t encounter someone refrigerant huffing, the health effects of this drug abuse are long-term, including heart, lung and brain damage. Low refrigerant also damages your air conditioner because it has to run longer to effectively cool your home. The extra wear and tear can result in premature part failure, along with higher electric bills. Should the pressure drop too low, the system won’t run at all.

The best approach to stop the practice is to have an HVAC contractor measure the pressure in your system. He or she will look for leaks in the coils and connections and fix them if that’s the problem. When no leaks are present, you’re probably the victim of refrigerant huffing. The safety cap will solve the problem.

It’s especially important to have your system checked if your A/C uses R-22 (commonly called Freon). The federal EPA limits the amount of this ozone-depleting refrigerant that can be produced annually, and the cost is rising. Recharging your system will cost a lot more as time goes by.

If you would like to learn more about cooling and heating issues, contact Ernst Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided HVAC services for the Metro-East area since 1951.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about refrigerant huffing and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Service in Hours- Not Days
What People Are Saying About Ernst
  Reviews for Ernst Heating & Cooling

104 customer reviews

Average rating:5

 
  Fair &...
Recommended in 2015 by neighbors for A/C repair, quick response time in busy season, fair price & friendly...
by melanie r on 06/24/2017
  Easy to work with!
Easy to work with!!
by rob s on 06/18/2017
  Well satisfied...
Glad to continue business with Ernst.
by steve l on 06/15/2017
  Just fine. Ok
I prefer to have the same technician from one time to the next so that the person is more familiar with my home. This...
by jeanie b on 06/14/2017
  Replace Furnace...
We had Ernst install a replacement furnace and air conditioner. The install went very smoothly and quickly and the...
by Southern Illinois District L on 06/14/2017
More Verified Reviews
Service in Hours- Not Days
These 3 Things Will Ruin Your Air Conditioner GUARANTEED
Posted On:June 26, 2017

Your air conditioner should last for about 15 years with proper care and maintenance. Neglecting your air conditioning unit could cut its lifetime in half....