Wondering what chemical is used in AC units at home or in the office? It’s an important question as many different substances are dangerous for humans and can also harm the environment. Fortunately, many of the substances used in modern air conditioning units don’t pose a major threat to health or nature.
Further, a high-quality, professionally installed air conditioner will keep chemicals safely sealed. However, if the AC unit is improperly installed or maintained, chemicals could leak out, causing myriad problems.
That said, not all chemicals are dangerous. When someone hears the word “chemicals,” they may immediately be struck by a negative connotation. After all, don’t chemicals cause cancer? Can’t they burn your skin, cause breathing issues, and in a worst-case scenario, won’t they cause death?
Some chemicals pose a major risk. Fortunately, modern science has come a long way, and we have now identified many chemicals that are dangerous to human health and the environment. Additionally, we’ve also discovered chemicals that, when used properly, don’t pose a threat. Many of the chemicals used in modern AC systems are quite safe.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the substances most commonly found in an air conditioning unit. Keep in mind that AC systems may vary from each other, and thus specific units may contain different substances, including ones not mentioned here. Let’s start by looking at the refrigerants now used in modern cooling systems.
Hydrofluorocarbons Ensure Folks Can Chill Out
Regarding different chemicals used as refrigerants, most modern air conditioners use hydrofluorocarbons. Essentially, refrigerants capture heat in one area, say your fridge. From there, the captured heat can be transferred elsewhere. An AC unit typically cools air and pumps heat outside, for example. The cooled air, meanwhile, is dispersed throughout your home.
The exact science can be a bit complex, but hydrofluorocarbons are human-made compounds containing hydrogen and fluorine. While hydrofluorocarbons are frequently used in modern AC units, they also have other uses. Some of these chemicals are also used to treat cancer. They may also be used as propellants and to produce insulation foams, among other applications.
Vitally, hydrofluorocarbons don’t pose a major threat to the environment and will not damage the ozone layer. Additionally, many hydrofluorocarbons don’t contribute to the greenhouse effect that many scientists argue is causing the world to warm. In the past, chlorofluorocarbons were used instead. These chemicals did damage the ozone layer and caused other problems. As such, they have been gradually phased out.
Other Chemicals Found in Air Conditioning Units
Besides refrigerants, many AC units contain other chemicals, often including but not limited to:
- Waterproofing agents – used to ensure tight seals and reduce the risk of water damage
- Dehumidifying agents – pull water out of the air, which makes the air easier to cool.
- Anti-corrosion agents – reduce wear and tear, among other things.
The above list is far from exhaustive. Anyone with questions or concerns should reach out to HVAC professionals.
Categorised in: HVAC Refrigerant
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