If you aren’t familiar with why your air conditioner might need a safety cap, you’re not alone. An alarming practice has started among teenagers that involves inhaling the refrigerant from air conditioning systems. This is exceptionally dangerous, and it can be fatal or leave the abuser with long-term health problems. If your yard isn’t fenced and your outdoor condenser sits on the ground, your A/C or heat pump is vulnerable.
The practice, called refrigerant huffing, is bad for everyone, because of the health dangers and the problems it creates for your A/C. When these appliances don’t have enough refrigerant inside, they have to work harder to satisfy your temperature demands and as a result wear out faster. Once the refrigerant gets too low, your system won’t work at all. If your A/C uses R-22 or Freon, refilling it could be an expensive proposition, since the cost of this chemical formula is rising due to manufacturing quotas put in place by the federal EPA.
These are financial and mechanical issues that can be fixed. The irreversible damages that huffing does to the abuser are much more serious. Inhaling refrigerant can cause heart problems, damage the lungs and raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. If you startle someone who is huffing, the surging adrenaline can stop his heart altogether. Putting a safety cap on your system stops the practice. These caps have keys that must be used to tap into the valve for testing and filling the refrigerant for your air conditioner.
If your electric bills have risen for no apparent reason, your refrigerant level may be low. An HVAC technician can measure the pressure, test your system for leaks and fix them. Asking the technician to install the safety cap can remove any doubt about someone accessing your condenser for the refrigerant.
If you’d like to know more about this practice and the problems that low refrigerant creates for your air conditioner, contact Comfort Systems. We’ve provided HVAC services for the Wichita area since 1996.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.