AC refrigerant leaks are quite common but can be hard to identify. Often, an ineffective HVAC system can affect the level of comfort in your house. Besides that, there are also health issues to be worried about, especially if the leak is not dealt with. It’s crucial for you to know what a refrigerant leak is and its causes. Also, you should know how to check your HVAC system when you suspect that you have a coolant leak.
How Do I Know If My Air Conditioner Has A Refrigerant Leak?
This article will talk about air conditioner refrigerants. We also talk about the most common causes of AC refrigerant leaks and steps to take if you happen to have an air conditioner with a coolant leak at home.
What Is An Air Conditioner Refrigerant’s Purpose?
Air conditioner refrigerant is a type of compound. It is typically in a gas or fluid state. Air conditioning systems cycle refrigerant (like R-22 or R-410a) via the compressor to specific components of the system. The compressor rapidly condenses the refrigerant while it’s pulled in, forcing the molecules into a smaller space. As the molecules collide, it causes heat. The refrigerant moves into the condenser which removes the heat. Fans also help to remove the heat. Then the refrigerant begins to cool down into liquid form. After the refrigerant goes moves into the evaporator, it cools down even more. As air is passed over the evaporator coils, it is cooled down enough to be moved into an area.
Refrigerants are essential to cool the circulating air used in an air conditioning system. The capacity of the system to cool down an area is greatly reduced if the refrigerant runs low or leaks.
Why Do Air Conditioners Leak Refrigerant?
Below, we discuss some common causes of refrigerant leaks in air conditioning systems.
Reduced Strength In Air Conditioner Connections And Joints
Over time, connections and joints in the AC system can thin out or deteriorate.
AC Factory Defects
If your AC unit was assembled incorrectly or if it was broken before it was installed, then that could lead to a coolant leak.
A common cause of a leaking refrigerant is the corrosion of the metal components like copper tubing on the walls inside of the air conditioner. The metal can become weakened due to holes and cracks.
Air Conditioner Use Over Time
Regular wear and tear will eventually cause the coolant to leak. Air conditioning systems have protective rubber seals that can become worn, allowing the refrigerant to escape.
Incorrect Air Conditioner Installation
Leaky HVAC ducts can be due to an improperly installed air conditioning unit if certain pieces were not fitted properly.
What To Look For When Your Air Conditioner Has A Refrigerant Leak
- Your Home Takes a Long Time To Cool Off: A coolant leak leads to the air conditioner losing its cooling power. This can explain why it takes longer to feel cool and comfortable after you turn on the air conditioner.
- High Humidity: Another sign that your AC system is not working correctly is increased humidity. It will take a lot longer, if at all, for the AC unit to get rid of humidity when there is a low level of refrigerant.
- Increased Electric Costs: You may notice a spike in your electric bill. This is because your AC unit is not able to cool your home effectively, so the system will need to work more to get the air to your desired temperature.
- Frozen Evaporator Coil: The evaporator coil will not be able to absorb heat if there is not enough refrigerant. This results in condensation forming in the coils, which will freeze. Usually, you can see ice forming on the coils.
- Hissing Noises: If your AC unit has holes or cracks, especially where the refrigerant is circulated, you will likely hear a hissing sound. A larger leak may produce a gurgling sound.
- Low Airflow: Not enough refrigerant in the air conditioning system will result in low airflow. This means there will not be a sufficient amount of cool air.
- AC Leak: If you notice a puddle on the floor or ground, frozen condensation on the evaporator coils may have melted.
Hazards Of AC Refrigerant Leaks
If coolant leaks through vents, that is something to be concerned about. You might experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, poor concentration, skin rashes, dizziness, and loss of coordination if you are exposed to a coolant leak. Also, you might develop a chemical burn or frostbite if the coolant directly touches your skin. Inhaling high levels of coolant is threatening as it can lead to seizures and loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, it could be fatal.
Air Conditioner Repair Or Replace?
Performing a DIY air conditioner replacement or repairing it yourself may be tempting. It’s important to remember that a refrigerant leak can be caused by lots of problems that only a professional HVAC contractor will know how to fix. Doing a repair on your AC unit yourself may void the warranty if it is a newer model. It’s always better and safer to call a professional.
Starting January 1, 2020, the most common type of coolant used in older AC systems, the R-22 compound, has been phased out. It may still be available, but in very little quantities and at very high prices since it is no longer being produced. It is much more practical to replace an older air conditioner that uses R-22 than have it repaired.
Most of the time, the problem with an older AC unit is much more than just a refrigerant leak. Repairing an old and problematic AC system and topping off its refrigerant level will likely cost nearly as much as half of a newer, ENERGY STAR® certified AC. New AC units with a high SEER rating can promise better performance, ensured comfort, and increased efficiency.
Getting an energy-efficient air conditioner is the best option if you are struggling with an AC refrigerant leak. Small and simple issues can be fixed. However, some damages and defects need a solid solution. You can learn about the options you have to optimize your comfort and safety by talking to your HVAC contractor.
Call Tower Energy For Your Air Conditioning Requirements
Tower Energy offers the best cooling and heating services in Hartford County and the surrounding areas in Connecticut. We only hire NATE certified technicians that have excellent knowledge and expertise. They can provide you with HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements.
Tower Energy guarantees the most competitive cooling and heating service costs in the area. We can increase your comfort, improve your energy efficiency, and reduce your home cooling costs. When necessary, we can recommend HVAC repairs or replacement systems for your home while staying within your budget. All of our work is backed with a guarantee, ensuring your satisfaction. To schedule a service appointment or get a free, in-home estimate, give Tower Energy a call today.