The refrigerant in your home’s AC unit, mostly either Freon or Puron, is essential to the whole HVAC system and keeping your home cool. It’s an air conditioning agent that changes in between its gaseous and fluid states to cool the indoor air and keep your house safe and comfortable. Your air conditioning system is a closed-loop system meaning refrigerant is meant to move throughout it constantly without its level being lowered. However, it can be hard to know if you have a refrigerant leak. This goes if it’s Puron or Freon. Here are a few of the usual signs of an air conditioner refrigerant leak.
If there’s not enough cooling agent in your system, it’s likely the AC will run poorly or inefficiently and won’t cool as you need it to. Refrigerant leaks can be more than inconvenient. They can be a serious danger. You need to fix it, or get a pro to fix it, immediately.
Signs You’ll Notice in the House
AC Cycles are Taking Longer
Basically, the Freon’s or Puron’s job in a building’s cooling system is to take in heat from the interior and move it outside. If there’s a leak, the refrigerant level drops. When it’s dropped too much, it will take longer, and a longer running cycle, to cool the home. It will take more running time to reach the temperature you have on the thermostat, or it may not be able to hit that temperature at all. You’ll wind up having a system running harder, and using more energy, than it should.
Warm Air when the AC’s On
This sign is pretty easy to notice. You’ve got the AC on, during a Carolina summer day, and you’re getting air ranging from lukewarm to the same as the 95 degrees outside. If the AC’s not giving you cool air, check at multiple vents. If it’s the same everywhere, you likely have a refrigerant leak.
Another quick thing to check is the thermostat setting, just to make sure no one touched it or there’s no “smart” or computer glitch. It’s also smart to check the air filters and switch them out if needed, which could be needed anyway, whether or not you’ve also got a refrigerant leak. A dirty, clogged air filter will also harm your AC’s efficiency. After looking at these possible reasons, if you’re still getting warm air, you’re likely looking at a refrigerant leak.
When air conditioning decreases the temperature in your home, it’s also supposed to cut the humidity in it. A low level of refrigerant means the heat isn’t being removed and not as much moisture is being removed. If you feel higher humidity than normal, it’s time to call an expert and ask about the refrigerant.
When you have a low refrigerant level, most likely from a leak, the AC unit will lose pressure. Low pressure can lead to frozen coils, then an overflowing drain pan.
More Signs of a Leak
A Higher Energy Bill Out of Nowhere
Inefficient AC or heating systems mean you’ll get higher energy bills. When your AC isn’t operating correctly, the whole system has to run more. If you’re power bill is going up anyway these days, there could be an even bigger spike if the AC refrigerant is leaking. It’s smart to check your monthly bill and look at it with last year’s bill from the same month. If there’s a big different, it could be time to fix your unit.
Bubbling or Hissing
Bubbling or hissing noises from the refrigerant lines, which are behind the outdoor AC condenser unit, or from the indoor air handler, are likely signs of a leak or another problem. Typically, it’s a refrigerant leak, and the sooner you fix it the better. Refrigerant is a dangerous chemical so do not touch the refrigerant lines. It’s best to call a professional HVAC technician.
Finding a Frozen Coil
As the AC system runs and cycles, refrigerant goes through the evaporator coil to absorb heat from the interior air as it blows over the coil. If you have a low refrigerant level in the air conditioning system, you’ll have inefficient absorption. The evaporator coil keeps too cold a temperature and can freeze. Frozen evaporator coils are good signs of a leak. When you notice ice on your interior coils, connect a heating and cooling professional.
Causes of Refrigerant Leaks
While it can be a pretty normal issue, a refrigerant leak may go unnoticed until you know something’s way off in your home. Knowing some of the usual causes of a leak may let you know what to do once you’re facing a problem.
Incorrect installment of an HVAC system can cause leaking refrigerant. While a number of parts can trigger a leakage, it more than likely is due to an incorrectly-fitted part which then lets gas or fluid leak.
Most faulty, defective or slightly damaged AC units or components are found while they’re still in the factory. Some aren’t caught, and wind up in a house. This will probably lead to a problem soon or down the road with a system.
In time, the joints and connectors in a cooling unit will loosen, weaken or break. Most of the time, loose joints or a relative few parts needing replacement or repair is a simple fix.
Corrosion, Wear and Tear
Anything with metal components and parts, such as copper tubes, can become corroded and cracked or broken, leading to a leak or worse.
Over the years, hopefully a lot of years, even the best-maintained system will show signs of age and wear. In a climate where your AC likely runs a lot, it will wear faster. This can cause a refrigerant leak.
At South End Heating and Air we specialize in HVAC and air conditioning repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.