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How Long Does It Take for Freon to Settle in an Air Conditioner?


When it comes to the efficiency and performance of your air conditioner, the role of refrigerant, commonly known as Freon, cannot be underestimated. Freon is responsible for absorbing warmth from indoor air and releasing it outside, enabling your aircon unit to cool your living spaces.

However, have you ever wondered how long it takes for Freon to settle in an air conditioner after maintenance, installation, or relocation?

What Is a Refrigerant or Freon?

Refrigerant is a crucial component of any aircon unit, enabling warmth transfer to achieve cooling. It undergoes a compression, condensation, expansion, and evaporation cycle to facilitate this heat transfer procedure. 

While Freon, on the other hand, is a brand name for a type of refrigerant commonly used in an aircon unit.

The term refers to a class of chemical compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These compounds were historically used as refrigerants in various cooling and air conditioning units and other applications like aerosol propellants and solvents.

How Does Freon Work in Air Conditioners?

Freon is the linchpin of effective air conditioning; it keeps your air conditioner operating efficiently. The refrigeration cycle requires careful consideration of factors to determine the appropriate amount to take for Freon to ensure optimal cooling performance. 

Here’s a simplified explanation of how Freon works:

  • Evaporator: Freon, from the refrigerant line, starts as a low-pressure gas in the evaporator coils. When warm indoor air inside is blown over the coil, the Freon absorbs it, causing it to evaporate and turn into a low-pressure cold gas.
  • Compressor: The compressor draws in a low-pressure and low-temperature gas. The ACs compressor is needed to increase the pressure and temp of the Freon gas.
  • Condensator: The high-pressure, high-temp Freon gas leaves the compressor and enters the condenser coil. Here, the Freon releases the warmth it absorbed from the indoor air. As a result, the gas condenses back into a high-pressure liquid.
  • Expansion Valve: The high-pressure and high-temp liquid Freon then passes through an expansion valve or capillary tube. This valve reduces the pressure of the liquid, causing it to expand rapidly. As it expands, its air drops significantly.
  • Evaporator (Again): The now-low-pressure, low-temperature Freon liquid goes back to the evaporator coil. Warm air from indoors is blown over the cold coil, and the Freon once again absorbs warm air, repeating the cycle.

Allowing Freon to settle post-installation or maintenance is vital. It ensures even distribution for effective heat exchange during the cooling cycle.

Balanced Freon levels are essential for optimal air conditioners’ performance. The evaporator coils, refrigerant lines, and compressors rely on proper Freon levels for efficient refrigeration.

How Long Does It Take for Freon to Settle in an Air Conditioner?

When you install, transfer, or repair an aircon unit, the Freons can get disturbed, leading to the need for it to settle before optimal performance can be achieved. One key aspect of this settling process is the drainage of accumulated excess moisture.

When you first turn on an air conditioner after maintenance, it may take time for the Freon to circulate throughout the unit and stabilize fully. This settling time varies and depends on the unit’s size, the refrigerant line length, and other factors. 

Still, as a good rule of thumb, an air conditioner typically takes a few minutes to an hour to achieve optimal performance.  It’s essential to avoid frequent adjustments as the air conditioner stabilizes during this time. 

However, generally, for refrigerants, to ensure complete certainty that the oil has fully resettled in the compressor, it’s advisable to let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours. During this time, the air conditioner might not perform optimally.

Does Air Conditioner Recharge Work Immediately?

An AC unit recharge, which involves adding more Freon, does not yield instant results in your air conditioner immediately blowing cold air after recharging. 

Even if your AC functions with minimal issues, an AC recharge will not produce immediate effects.

How Long Does It Take for Freon Recharge to Work?

The time it takes for Freon to settle in an AC recharge varies due to factors such as system condition, Freon level, cooling load, and system size.

Air conditioners with minor issues and in good condition usually finish their recharge after one to two hours.

For systems with leakage or other issues, it could take longer for the added Freon to settle fully and optimize cooling. Climate and humidity play a role in the process, and larger systems require more time for proper distribution.

While the process of adding Freon (or “recharging”) to your air conditioner can improve its performance, there are several factors that may dictate if your unit is now working properly:

Distribution of Freon

After a recharge, the newly added Freons need time to circulate and distribute throughout the aircon. This distribution can take some time before you experience a little chill.

Aircon Condition 

If your AC unit has underlying issues, such as a refrigerant leak, or has malfunctioning other components, adding more Freons might not fully address the problem. In such cases, the aircon must be appropriately diagnosed and repaired first before the air conditioners stop working.

Temperature Differential 

After a recharge, the temp inside your living spaces may not immediately drop to your desired level. It takes time for the air conditioner system to remove warmth from the indoor air and achieve the desired temp.

Airflow and Other Factors

The refrigerating efficiency also depends on factors like airflow, proper insulation, and the overall condition of your HVAC system. If airflow restrictions or other issues exist, the process might take longer to show noticeable effects.

System Type

The Freon your system uses can influence how quickly you can feel the chilly breeze. New air conditioner refrigerants work more efficiently than older ones.

Tips to Manage Expectations

Give it Time

After a recharge, it’s a good idea to wait a few minutes to hours to let the Freon circulate and let the air conditioner settle. 

Check for Leaks

If your air conditioner needs a recharge due to low refrigerant levels, it’s important to check for leaks. Regularly recharging without addressing leaks will not provide a long-term solution.

Regular Maintenance

Regular air conditioner maintenance is essential to ensure consistent and efficient refrigeration. It includes cleaning the air filter, using a soft brush to clean the evaporator coils, looking for leaks in the vents, checking the condenser coils, and promptly addressing any issues.

If you’re experiencing issues with your air conditioner, it’s best to consult a professional HVAC technician. They can diagnose the problem accurately and provide the necessary solutions.

Adding more gas to an air conditioning unit is a short-term solution to cooling issues. While it can improve freezing performance over time, factors like refrigerant distribution and machine conditions affect how quickly you’ll notice the effects. If your AC is not working, it’s recommended to be properly diagnosed and serviced by a qualified technician

Do You Have to Wait 24 Hours to Turn On the Air Conditioning Unit?

Waiting for 24 hours before turning on your air conditioner after recharge is a common recommendation in your manufacturer’s instructions, but it’s not always a strict rule. The idea behind this recommendation is to give the refrigerant enough time to properly circulate and distribute within the AC after it has been recharged. 

This can help ensure that the system operates efficiently and that the freezing effect is optimized.

While waiting for the recommended time can help ensure the optimal performance of your AC system, it’s important to note that many modern systems are designed to start creating cold air shortly after being turned on. 

Owners of new air conditioners don’t need to wait 24 hours before opening them, especially if the system is in good condition.

How Long Should I Let My Air Conditioner Settle After Moving It?

After moving your air conditioner, it’s a good practice to let it settle for some time before turning it on. This allows the system to settle and adjust to its new location, which can help prevent potential issues and ensure optimal performance. 

While there isn’t a fixed timeframe that applies universally, here are some general guidelines to consider:

Short Distances (Within the Same Room or Nearby)

If you’ve moved your air conditioner within the same room or to a nearby location, you might only need to wait for it to settle for around 15 to 30 minutes before turning it on. This brief waiting period allows the internal component, compressor oil, and other installed parts to stabilize after the movement.

Longer Distances (Different Rooms or Floors)

If you’ve moved the air conditioner to a different room, floor, or a new location in your home, it’s a good idea to wait for a more extended period, such as 2 to 4 hours. This extended time frame gives the refrigerant oil and internal components sufficient time to settle and equalize, reducing the risk of compressor damage or other operational issues.

Relocation to a New Home

If you’ve moved to a new home and the air conditioner has been transported, waiting at least 24 hours before turning it on is recommended. This waiting period allows the Freon to settle, the oil to flow back to the compressor, and the system to adjust to any changes in air and humidity.

Keeping the air conditioner upright is important to avoid potential Freon leakage and damage to internal components during the waiting period. Additionally, ensure the air conditioner is placed on a stable and level surface to prevent vibrations from affecting its performance.

Before turning on the air conditioner, inspect the unit for any visible damage that might have occurred during the move. If you have any concerns or doubts about the process, it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or contact a professional HVAC technician for guidance.

The waiting time before turning on your air conditioner after moving depends on the distance of the move and the specific circumstances. Following these general guidelines ensures that your air conditioner operates smoothly and with optimum efficiency in its new location.

How Long Does It Take Freon To Dissipate?

Technically speaking, Freon does not dissipate. The Freon in your air conditioner doesn’t get used up like gas in a car. This is because your air conditioner’s compressor is like a closed container that doesn’t let the Freon escape in any way; it works in a “closed/sealed system.” It stays inside the system and keeps working to cool the air.

It may dissipate if you count the wear and tear after a few years of usage or mishandling. Here are some general considerations regarding Freon’s dissipation:

Type of Refrigerant 

Different refrigerants have different dissipation characteristics and rates. For example, older HCFC refrigerants like R-22 have a longer atmospheric lifespan than newer HFC refrigerants like R-410A, which break down more quickly in the atmosphere.

Environmental Conditions 

Factors like climate, dirt, dust, humidity, and air pressure can influence how quickly refrigerants disperse into the atmosphere. Higher heat and humidity levels can quickly dissipate the Freon left inside an air conditioner. 


The dissipation may continue until the refrigerant or compressor leak is appropriately repaired. If the leak from refrigerant continues to escape into the environment, it will affect indoor air quality and contribute to environmental issues. Check the drain pipe for possible leakage. 


Adequate ventilation can help expedite the dissipation of refrigerants in the compressor. Well-ventilated spaces allow the refrigerant to disperse more rapidly, reducing its concentration in the air.

Regulations and Handling 

Proper disposal and handling of refrigerants inside the compressor are essential to prevent environmental harm. Refrigerants should be recovered and recycled or properly disposed of by trained professionals.

Given these variables, providing a precise timeline for Freon’s dissipation is challenging. In controlled and well-ventilated environments, some refrigerants disperse relatively quickly. At the same time, in other situations, it can take much longer, potentially years, for certain types of refrigerants to fully dissipate.

Final Thoughts

The time it takes for Freon to settle in an air conditioner can vary depending on factors like unit size, type of refrigerant, unit disturbance, and environmental conditions. Generally, it might take a few hours to a day for the refrigerant to distribute evenly within the unit.

Allowing the refrigerant to settle after maintenance or installation can help ensure optimal performance from your aircon unit, providing cool air for your living spaces.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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