A Guide To AC Refrigerant Leaks
Your AC unit depends upon the refrigerant in the unit in order to function properly. The compressed refrigerant moves through the unit, cooling the area and moving the heat so it can dissipate outside of the unit. Without the proper amount of refrigerant, the unit will fail to cool your home.
Symptoms of Refrigerant Leaks
Poor cooling is the first sign that there is too little refrigerant in the AC. No matter how long the unit runs, your home will never cool to the set temperature. The unit may even run continuously but still be unable to effectively cool your home. This leads to higher than normal energy costs since the unit is running more frequently.
You may also notice issues with the unit directly. If the refrigerant is still actively leaking out, for example, you may be able to detect a hissing noise while standing near the AC. In some cases, you can even view it bubbling out but you are unlike to find a puddle because it dissipates quickly into a gas. Often the evaporator coil will begin to freeze up once their is insufficient refrigerant in the unit to properly run.
Causes of Refrigerant Leaks
There are different reasons why your AC may spring a leak. In some cases, corrosion or rust eats through the refrigerant lines and results in a leak. Damage to the lines could also lead to leaking refrigerant. Over time wear and tear can can lead to lines and hoses simply wearing out. Another common cause of refrigerant leaks is damage caused from attempts at DIY repairs.
Leaks can also be the result of failed gaskets and joints between the refrigerant lines within the AC system. The lines are meant to be an enclosed system, but over time the seals at the joints along the line can simply begin to weaken or crumble with age.
Repair Options If You Have a Leak
If you have an older AC that uses a discontinued refrigerant, then the best option for dealing with a refrigerant leak is to simply upgrade to a newer unit that uses one of the approved modern refrigerants.
For newer units that don't use a discontinued refrigerant, you may be able to have the leak repaired and the system recharged with fresh refrigerant. Your HVAC service must locate the leak and replace the damaged line or joint seal before adding more refrigerant.
Contact an HVAC service in your area if you need more help with the refrigerant in your unit.