woman suffering from heat due to air conditioner with refrigerant leak

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?

manometer to test air conditioner refrigerant levels

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?

image of an air conditioner installation

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

image of a woman with high cooling costs

Hazards Of AC Refrigerant Leaks

image of caution tape depicting dangers of coolant leak of AC unit

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?

hvac contractor looking for a refrigerant leak in an air conditioner

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 Logo
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.

Contact us now or call us at (860) 677-7347 to find out more.