While leaky air conditioning refrigerant may not seem problematic, inhalation of coolant can be extremely harmful to your health. Direct contact can cause chemical burns, frostbite, and dizziness. High amounts can even lead to seizures and loss of consciousness. To help you detect issues with your system, we have created a list of signs of an air conditioner refrigerant leak and ways to respond.
Top Indicators of A Refrigerant Leak
Refrigerant is an essential component to the functionality of your air conditioning unit. When AC units leak, the amount of cooling liquid decreases, and your HVAC’s ability to maintain cool air throughout your home substantially reduces.
High Electric Bills
Inefficient AC units translate to higher electric bills. When your cooling system isn’t operating normally, your air conditioner works harder than it should, and your utility bill increases. If your electric bill has skyrocketed in recent months, your air conditioning unit may leak. Take a moment to review your monthly statement and compare it with the previous year’s bill from the same month. If there are inconsistencies, it may be time to repair your unit.
Long Cooling Cycles
Simply put, the refrigerant’s job in the cooling process is to absorb the heat from inside your home and release it outside. When an air conditioner refrigerant leak starts to develop, the refrigerant levels will be depleted. Once the refrigerant level becomes too low, it will take longer to cool your home. Consequently, your unit will run longer and work harder than usual.
When the refrigerant level for your air conditioning system is too low, your unit will lose pressure. This can cause freezing coils, which may overflow the drain pan and spill excessive water when it melts.
Typically, hissing sounds are caused by holes or cracks in the coils that circulate the refrigerant. While hissing noises do originate from your air conditioning unit, they can be caused by a variety of problems. If the refrigerant in your air conditioner is leaking through a relatively large hole, your system may make a louder, gurgling sound.
Bubbles in Evaporator Coils
Professional HVAC technicians sometimes refer to refrigerant leaks as “champagne leaks” because the hole leaking fluid can be detected by a collection of tiny bubbles in the evaporator coils.
Frozen Evaporator Coils
A tell-tale sign of an air conditioner refrigerant leak is the formation of ice on your evaporator coils. When insufficient refrigerant levels circulate through the evaporator coils, the coils will have trouble adequately absorbing heat, which will cause the condensation on the coils to freeze. While ice on the evaporator coil might not seem alarming, it could result in a complete system breakdown and cause expensive repairs. Be sure to monitor your evaporator periodically, so you can see when frozen crystals form.
Air Conditioner Not Distributing Cold Air
This is maybe the most obvious sign to inspect your unit for a possible leak. When your AC unit fails to blow cold air, check the air coming from the vents. Do this in multiple rooms to confirm the issue. If the air is not ice-cold, you probably have an HVAC refrigerant leak.
Causes of Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks
Although common, an AC refrigerant leak may not be noticeable until it starts affecting the quality of comfort in your home. Learn more about what causes a refrigerant leak, as well as what you can do to restore your HVAC system to its proper condition.
HVAC systems have metal components, including copper tube walls, that are found inside the indoor coil. When the copper tube walls become corroded, cracks and holes form. When this happens, the tube walls weaken, and refrigerant leaks.
Loose Joints & Connections
Over time, the joints and connectors of your cooling unit will thin out and erode. Luckily, having loose components in your cooling system is a relatively easy fix.
Improper installation of a cooling system can also result in leaking refrigerant liquid. While several components can cause a leak, it most likely stems from an incorrectly-fitted part that allows coolant gas or liquid to escape.
While most faulty air conditioning units are detected before they leave the factory, some are mistakenly installed into homes. If not noticed right away, this can lead to additional problems with your unit.
Wear and Tear
Ultimately, aging and frequent usage are top contributors to a refrigerant leak. If your AC unit runs day and night, the wear on your cooling system can cause excessive refrigerant leakage.
Air Conditioning Repair and Installation Services
If your AC system is leaking refrigerant, adding more refrigerant is not a solution. Make sure you contact a qualified technician at WM Henderson to schedule service for your system. We offer air conditioning repair and installation services to homes in areas of Pennsylvania such as Springfield, Havertown, Wayne, Ardmore, Drexel Hill, and Broomall. After a proper inspection, the technician will find and fix any leaks, test the repair, and then add refrigerant to restore cooling throughout your home. If you have several leaks, WM Henderson professionals may recommend replacing your refrigerant coil. While this is more costly than repairing holes, you will rest easy knowing that cool, non-toxic air is circulating throughout your residence.
When it comes to air conditioning, WM Henderson has remained a leader in providing trustworthy and efficient maintenance, repair, and installation services. In addition, we offer other types of HVAC and plumbing services such as water heater repair, sump pump installation, and furnace repair. For over 44 years, our experienced and certified technicians have provided top-notch service to cities throughout Pennsylvania. Call (484) 206-8594 to have your leaky air conditioning unit serviced, or contact us online.
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