Air Conditioner Antifreeze [Guide, Problems & Solutions]

Antifreeze is an engine coolant that regulates the engine in extreme temperatures to prevent damage. This article is on air conditioner antifreeze, how to use it, its problems, and possible solutions.

air conditioner antifreeze

Do Air Conditioners Have Antifreeze?

Car air conditioners have antifreeze, while home air conditioning systems do not have antifreeze. The primary reason is simple: home air conditioners do not have an engine to cool, whereas cars have engines that need to remain cool to prevent overheating while the air conditioner works.

Do Air Conditioners Need Antifreeze?

A typical home air conditioner does not need antifreeze because the engine or motor, which is the compressor, does not need it to cool down. However, a car air conditioner needs antifreeze to keep the engine from overheating due to all the work of powering the car and AC.  in other words, you will not find antifreeze in your home’s air conditioner, and you will not need to add it. But your car’s air conditioner probably already has antifreeze and may need a refill from time to time.

Air Conditioner Antifreeze Smell

If you notice a sweet smell coming from your air conditioner when it stops running, there may be an antifreeze leak. And if there is a leak, it is best to fix it immediately. But before deciding there is a leak, check for other tell-tale signs, such as colored puddles near the outdoor unit or under your car. 

The puddles may be blue-green, pink, orange, or lime-green. The air conditioner may stop producing cold air as it should, which indicates a leak. Take your car to an auto mechanic or call an HVAC technician to check the air conditioner to determine where the leak is and find a quick solution.

Will Antifreeze Make My AC Work?

Antifreeze can boost the performance of your car’s air conditioner. It is a fluid injected into the car’s engine that helps to transfer heat out of the system. It circulates through the engine and cools the cylinders to ensure there is no overheating. In other words, antifreeze absorbs the heat in the engine and dissipates it out of the car. This process is especially useful when the outside weather is too hot, improving how well the air conditioner works.

Typically, antifreeze does its job by affecting the car’s airflow, humidity, and temperature. Below is a breakdown:

Antifreeze or coolant ensures cool air enters the car’s air conditioner as it regulates the temperature. As long as enough coolant flows to the unit, it will ensure there is adequate cool air to keep the air conditioner from overheating. If there is a drop in the coolant in the engine, the airflow becomes restricted or too hot. This affects the amount of cool air in the car and may eventually damage the car’s air conditioner due to stress on the components, especially on the compressor.

The engine’s coolant helps remove the humidity in the air without making it too dry. If the amount of coolant in the engine is too little, it cannot lower the humidity. And there must be enough to remove just the right amount of humidity ot prevent the air from becoming too dry. However, the engine block must have enough moisture to enable the hot coolant to dissipate enough humidity.

Additionally, the coolant affects the temperature due to its location close to the engine block. This proximity enables the antifreeze to heat the interior of the car without much effort. At the same time, it releases the hot air from behind and keeps the engine’s temperature low. Otherwise, the car may malfunction and affect more than just the air conditioner.

Antifreeze Leaks When Air Conditioner Is On – Fixed

If your car’s air conditioner is leaking antifreeze, it is crucial to take it to an auto mechanic for inspection and repairs. Note that an antifreeze leak leaves colored fluids under the car, so you may have refrigerant leaks if the fluid under the car is not colored. Also, antifreeze leaks may not be readily visible, and if you suspect a leak but cannot see it, immediate action is crucial. 

One clear sign of an antifreeze leakage, apart from colored fluids, is a rise in the heat from the engine. Another sign is a white-colored residue on the engine. All these point to the fact that the antifreeze is not leaking while the air conditioner runs. 

Since the engine’s cooling and air conditioning systems work independently, one cannot cause the other to leak. However, let a trained mechanic check the radiator, engine, and air conditioner to find out where the leak is coming from and what is causing it. Then, they can fix it.

Smell Antifreeze When the Air Conditioner Is On

But if you smell antifreeze when the air conditioner is on in your home, turn the system off immediately because it may be leaking refrigerant. Sometimes, refrigerant smells like antifreeze, and it is crucial to get a technician to check the system to detect any leaks. Turn the air conditioning system off and create enough cross ventilation while you wait for professional help. 

But if the smell is in your car, the heater core may have a leak since the coolant, which is the antifreeze, flows through the heater core, even if the heater is not operating. Other possible causes of an antifreeze smell when the air conditioner is on are a leak in the head gasket, a leak in the valve, loose connectors, a damaged coolant reservoir, and a leak in the radiator. 

It may be difficult to detect one or all these possible issues with your car without the help of a professional. Therefore, take your car to a mechanic for further checks and repairs.

How to Add Antifreeze to an Air Conditioner

It is important to note again that regular air conditioners in homes do not use antifreeze. Only cars with air conditioners use antifreeze because it works as a coolant for the engine to prevent overheating. Therefore, you cannot add antifreeze to an air conditioner; you can only add it to a car’s engine.

Step 1

Clear the area around the car when you want to add antifreeze. It is poisonous, so it is dangerous to touch or ingest for humans and animals. Ensure no children or pets are around and be careful when adding it. If there is the accidental ingestion, call for immediate assistance.

Step 2

Wait for the car’s engine to cool before adding antifreeze. It can spurt and scald you if you add it to a hot engine. However, it is a fairly easy task you can complete yourself if you follow all the safety tips and protect yourself. Ensure you replace the antifreeze every twelve months for the best results.

Step 3

Open the hood of the car and find the radiator; you must find the engine to find the radiator because it should be under the engine. Check the user manual for the car if you have difficulty finding the radiator. But once you find it, open the drain dock; turn it counterclockwise to unscrew it.

Step 4

Get a disposable pan or container and drain the old antifreeze from the radiator. Ensure you do not use this container for any other purpose. Afterward, replace the drain dock and ensure you close it tightly. Then, go back to the radiator and remove its cap; turn it clockwise or to the right.

Step 5

Add antifreeze to the engine. You can purchase a premixed container of the liquid or make your own mixture, which should contain equal parts antifreeze and water. It may be best to use a premixed type if you have never added antifreeze or mixed it yourself. Otherwise, follow the instructions on the label to mix the antifreeze with water and add it to the engine.

Step 6

Now, close the radiator and start the car. Allow it to run while monitoring the cooling/heating gauge on the dashboard. Turn off the engine when the gauge moves to normal. Running the engine allows the antifreeze to move into the engine, creating an additional room in the radiator. So, you can add a little more antifreeze to the radiator to fill it. Ensure it is not hot when adding the refrigerant. Then, close it with the cap to complete the process.

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