There are many reasons your air conditioner might need to be repaired, but one of the more serious is a refrigerant leak. If you don’t know what refrigerant is, basically, it’s the chemical fuel that your air conditioner runs on to keep your house cool (you may have heard someone talk about refrigerant in relation to cars at one point, too.) Unlike other types of fuel, refrigerant runs on a closed-loop system, so you do not have to refill it unless a problem occurs. However, your air conditioner also won’t be able to function without an adequate supply of refrigerant, so it is important to act promptly if a leak does happen. Keep reading to learn the top five signs of a refrigerant leak, courtesy of our AC experts at AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric.
5 Ways to Tell If You Have a Refrigerant Leak
- Poor Airflow/Complete Lack of Cool Air: If your air conditioner is either having trouble spreading cool air around your house, or is spreading around hot air instead, that’s a surefire sign something is wrong with your system. It is possible that another issue is to blame, so don’t jump to conclusions. First, check your thermostat setting, to make sure your system is programmed to cool your house. You should also see if your system is on “auto” rather than “fan,” as the fan setting keeps blowing air even when the cooling cycle is off. And you should also inspect your filter, as clogged AC filters are among the top airflow stoppers. However, if, after all this, you still haven’t been able to locate the problem, call a technician to take a look. At AAA, our skilled HVAC technicians will be able to determine why your vents are having a problem blowing cold air/have stopped blowing cool air altogether, and whether a refrigerant leak is at fault.
- Hissing/Gurgling Noises: Most of the time, a refrigerant leak occurs because of a crack in the refrigerant lines. If you have noticed a hissing sound coming from your system’s refrigerant lines specifically, there is a good chance you’re dealing with a leak. A gurgling sound is even worse, and may indicate a larger leak still. Call a technician right away if you have heard these noises, and do not get close to the lines yourself. Remember, refrigerant is a dangerous chemical compound, so it is important to always have a professional handle it.
- Frozen Coils: The refrigerant in your indoor AC unit’s evaporator coils absorbs heat from the air inside your home. Therefore, when your refrigerant starts leaking, your system’s coils will have a harder time absorbing heat, and the remaining refrigerant will eventually cause the coils to freeze. You may notice water dripping on the floor or condensation on the lines first, but eventually, ice will form, at which point your whole system can break down. So once again, unless you want to replace your AC’s compressor, if not your entire unit, it is important to call a technician to address this issue ASAP.
- Increased Humidity: An important part of your air conditioner’s job, in addition to cooling your air, is dehumidifying it. However, when your system experiences a refrigerant leak, it will struggle to control humidity levels, ultimately making your home a pretty uncomfortable environment. There are other factors that can affect home humidity levels as well, such as the climate you live in and conditions in your house. However, if you notice that your home is not only getting hotter, but stuffier and more humid as well, call an AC tech to see if a refrigerant leak could be to blame.
- Rising Energy Bills: As your air conditioning system loses refrigerant, it will have to work harder to cool your whole home. Your HVAC system is already the top energy user in your home, but a sudden, unexpected spike in your power bill probably means something is wrong. To make matters worse, a lot of homeowners simply turn their thermostat down when their air conditioner’s performance starts to worsen, which will cause your electricity costs to go up even more. Remember, your thermostat is designed to work in tandem with your air conditioner, so if you do not see it responding to adjustments you are making, call a professional HVAC technician to address this issue.
We’re Here for All Your AC Needs
Refrigerant leaks force you to pay more money for less comfort, so if you even suspect you are dealing with one, call AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric today! We offer a full range of AC services, including repairs to get your system up and running before you know it, and maintenance designed to catch issues like refrigerant leaks before they spiral out of control. If you are concerned about the recent regulations drafted to phase out R-22, aka “Freon,” (the most popular kind of refrigerant on the market,) you may also want to upgrade your system entirely. That’s why we offer a number of energy-efficient replacement and installation options to ensure you get the long-lasting cooling power you need. Call today to schedule an appointment, and don’t forget to ask about our available specials and financing options.