Refrigerant leaks are a common problem with air conditioning (AC) systems. These leaks decrease system efficiency, reduce home comfort, and serve as a potential health risk. Knowing when an air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak has occurred will help you preserve the life of your system and enhance the comfort of your living space.
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The Function of AC Refrigerant
Refrigerant, also known as coolant, is an essential component in home cooling. It starts out as a gas and turns into a liquid during the cooling process. Here’s how it works:
- The AC system brings in warm air from outside your home
- Gaseous refrigerant enters the compressor where heat is removed, transforming it into a liquid
- The liquified refrigerant moves to the evaporator coils where it’s cooled further
- The warm air passes over the evaporator coils where the refrigerant cools it
- The cool air exits the AC unit, travels through air ducts, and circulates throughout your home
Main Causes of AC Refrigerant Leaks
Want to know why your AC is leaking refrigerant? Check out the top four causes.
When internal metal components corrode, cracks form along the perimeter of the AC unit where refrigerant can seep through.
2. Weak Connections
Frequent use of your air conditioning (AC) system can cause the joints and connections to weaken over time, and refrigerant can leak through those eroded areas.
3. Improperly Installed Unit
AC units must be sized and installed to fit the space available. Improper AC installation can leave unwanted cracks and crevices where refrigerant can leak through.
4. System Wear & Tear
Air conditioning (AC) units will naturally deteriorate over time due to frequent use. Parts wear down and even break altogether. When this natural wearing occurs, it can leave room for refrigerant to leak from the system.
What Are the Main Signs of an Air Conditioning (AC) Refrigerant Leak?
Here’s how you know when your AC system needs to be repaired.
1. Increased Energy Bills
Leaking refrigerant forces your AC to work harder and use more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature. Increased energy usage will cause your monthly energy bill to spike.
2. Insufficient Airflow
A refrigerant leak in your AC unit can cause it to produce less cool air at a slower rate.
3. Warm Air
If your air conditioner (AC) is blowing warm air, this is a sign your system is not cooling the air as it passes over the evaporator coils due to a refrigerant leak. This issue only occurs when not enough refrigerant is present in the AC unit to cool the warm air.
4. Elevated Humidity Levels
The less refrigerant your air conditioner (AC) unit has, the less cool air it can produce. Less cool air being circulated throughout your home results in higher humidity levels.
5. Frozen Evaporator Coils
Frozen evaporator coils can’t absorb heat from the refrigerant during the cooling process. Ice that forms on the evaporator coils will likely leak on the floor outside the system.
6. Hissing Sounds
Cracks in the metal shell of your air conditioning system can create hissing sounds, a sign that refrigerant may be leaking through those cracks.
Should You Repair or Replace Your AC Unit?
Before deciding whether to repair or replace your AC unit, you first need to locate the source of the refrigerant leak. While corrosion and system wear and tear warrant a unit replacement, weak connections and improper installation can be corrected with repairs. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to repair an AC problem, contact a professional technician to take care of it for you.
Air Conditioning Repair & Replacement Services
If you believe your air conditioning (AC) system has a refrigerant leak, contact our team of technicians by phone at (904) 217-5694 to schedule an appointment. Our professionals provide exceptional air conditioning replacement and air conditioning repair services for homeowners in Jacksonville, FL and other areas. In addition, we provide other types of HVAC services such as heat pump system tune-up, furnace repair, and air purification system installation. Our team is committed to providing you with optimal cost savings and home comfort. Book a service today.