When dealing with an AC refrigerant leak, your system doesn’t work as effectively as it should. From causes to warning signs and what to do to fix it, here’s what you need to know about refrigerant leaks.
What is AC Refrigerant?
AC refrigerant (sometimes called freon) is a chemical compound used within an air conditioner system. Its job is to absorb heat and provide cool air after running through the compressor and the evaporator. Essentially, the refrigerants job is very important, and without it, your HVAC system would continue to circulate the same warm air through your home. For your home to stay cool and comfy in the summer, the level of refrigerant in your AC system needs to remain full.
If you’re worried about needing to top up your AC refrigerant, don’t worry, because the refrigerant system is a closed system. If you’re running low on refrigerant, it’s because you have a leak, and it needs to be repaired pronto.
Common Causes of a Refrigerant Leak
There are many reasons behind a refrigerant leak – some are obvious, others not so much. Let’s go over the common causes so you can be aware.
- Wear and tear – Like all components or equipment, your AC will age and slow down due to wear and tear. The rubber seals on the valve stems of air conditioning systems tend to wear out over the years, and that can cause a refrigerant leak. If you ignore regular maintenance, you can expect this problem to arise sooner rather than later.
- Metal erosion –Erosion can cause significant issues in your HVAC system. As degradation happens, it creates tiny holes that allow refrigerant to leak through. With an outdoor unit, there’s a higher chance of erosion and damage due to the elements.
- Poor installation – physical damage can occur from improper installation of your unit. For example, a common cause of a leak is due to overtightening the flare connections. Only let a licensed technician install your air conditioning system to avoid leaks.
- Factory defects – not all air conditioning systems are created equal. There’s the possibility of factory flaws with any mass-produced product. These defects can lead to a refrigerant leak over time. If you have a new unit with factory defects, unfortunately, you’re going to need to replace it.
Signs to Watch Out for
Notice your AC isn’t cooling the way it’s supposed to? It could be due to a refrigerant leak. Here are some signs to look out for.
- Longer cooling time – refrigerant leaks make your air conditioning system work harder, especially during the hot Arizona summer months. With a leak, it can take your system twice as long to cool your home because the air isn’t getting as cold.
- High electricity bills – a high electricity bill is a good sign there’s an AC refrigerant leak. As mentioned before, with a leak, your system works hard to keep your home cool. This means more energy is used and a higher bill on your end.
- Frozen evaporator coil – if your HVAC system is leaking refrigerant, your evaporator coils cannot work properly, and this will result in them being covered in frost and ice.
- Water Puddles – the ice on the coils will eventually have to melt, and these can leave puddles under your AC. While it can be hard to see your evaporator coil, water pooling around the case of your air conditioner is a clear sign of low refrigerant.
- Higher humidity – your air conditioner does more than cool your home. It also reduces the humidity as well. When your AC has a refrigerant leak, it can no longer dehumidify your space, so you may notice your home is stickier and muggier than usual.
- Hissing sounds – hearing a hissing sound coming from your AC unit is an indication of a refrigerant leak. If you hear hissing, it’s important to take action right away.
What to Do to Fix It
First, if you believe your system is leaking refrigerant, shut it down right away. Refrigerant is harmful to the environment and can affect the air quality and your respiratory health. By keeping your system running, you’re at risk of causing more damage to your unit and releasing more refrigerant into the environment. Next, call in an expert technician to handle repairs. It takes a skilled professional to know what to look for as well as how to fix it. Finally, in the future, scheduling regular maintenance can help you in reducing leaks. Having your cooling system inspected in the spring ensures your AC is ready for a full summer of performance.
What Not to Do to Fix It
We want to point out what doesn’t fix an AC leak to save homeowners from wasting money. Some HVAC technicians will say that all you need to do is simply “top off” AC units with a leak, but this isn’t a real fix. If a leak is the cause of low refrigerant, homeowners will need service again soon. And too much refrigerant in your HVAC system can decrease performance.
If an HVAC technician recommends “topping off” as a solution, look elsewhere for help with your leak.
Stay Cool – Comfort World Air Conditioning & Heating is Here to Help
Think you have an AC refrigerant leak? Comfort World Air Conditioning & Heating has got your back! When you need help finding and fixing a refrigerant leak, our professional team is here for you. We also provide AC installation and air duct repair services. We’ve been bringing comfort to the valley for over 30 years, so you can count on us to get the job done right. Our highly trained technicians in Scottsdale, Arizona, want to bring a little more comfort to your world!