I just got a little AC (8000 BTU). It works Ok, I guess its a bit small for the room (20m2) but even just bringing the temp down from 30C to 25C is enough of a difference to stop me from sweating.

I bought it second hand but it looks almost brand new, the previous owner used it for a few months and then had it in storage for 8 years. Question is though, how likely is it that some of the refrigerant has leaked over all those years? Would bringing it in for a refill likely make a difference?

I miss the winter and keep fantasizing of 16C.

  • What do you mean by AC? Do you mean "window unit" or "portable" ? May 16, 2018 at 18:12
  • Its one of those little ones where you stick the hose with hot air out of the window (or into a ventilation hole in the wall that goes outside in my case) @Harper
    – user81993
    May 16, 2018 at 18:17
  • 1
    Clean the filter, evap and condensate coils....
    – Gunner
    May 16, 2018 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


how likely is it that some of the refrigerant has leaked over all those years?

Not very likely.

It's a pressurized system, so if you had a leak I would expect an 8 year period to be more than long enough for ALL the refrigerant to have escaped. There is a slight possibility of a seal partially failing and only letting refrigerant out when the unit is operating (pressure is greatly increased), but you would know pretty quickly - the cooling capacity would continue to decline as you use it, until it has little to no effect on the ambient air.

Would bringing it in for a refill likely make a difference?

That depends on the current charge level. An under/over charged unit will not perform to the manufacturer's specifications. Not having any leaks doesn't necessarily mean the system has the correct charge in it. But it sounds like you're talking about a portable unit that has probably never had any maintenance performed on it (so it should still have the factory charge, which should be correct).

  • 1
    To supplement this answer--assuming the unit has a satisfactory charge--you can try removing and cleaning its air filter, and you can also try to clean its coils, which will require removing the covering. If there is a slow-enough leak, and if it takes R134a (don't guess about this, there should be some sticker or otherwise near any serviceable parts) you might benefit from topping it off once or twice a season. There are several YouTube vids demonstrating how to do this.
    – elrobis
    May 16, 2018 at 18:21
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    Note that a unit like this can be over filled ("over-charged"). If it is over-charged it will cool worse than if it has the correct charge. May 16, 2018 at 19:13
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    Both overcharge and undercharge can cause the system to freeze and not cool efficently.
    – Ed Beal
    May 16, 2018 at 19:35

Give it a good cleaning to start with. Check to see that the fan is working as expected and the airflow is good. If that doesn't work scrap it and buy a new one. They're not made to be recharged.

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    A good spray with a garden hose and clipping the gfci off the end of the cord has 'fixed' 90% of every discarded window unit I've found in my alley. If it powers up and doesn't cool AT ALL, then it's actually garbage.
    – Mazura
    May 19, 2018 at 2:12

Small air conditioners are generally never meant to be recharged. They generally do not have access ports. They usually cost more to service than to get a new one. That being said the only reason to do anything with the refrigerant is if it is under charged. Just guessing and adding more will make it perform worse if it actually had the proper charge in the first place. At least in theory they should never require recharging. If it does you have a leak that needs to be fixed first.

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