refrigerant works on a closed loop, meaning it gets recycled over and over again to cool your air. There are pretty much only three scenarios in which you should need to replace your refrigerant: One) you’re replacing your system altogether, meaning you will be getting new refrigerant to go along with it. Two) You’re converting your Freon-based system to support a different kind of refrigerant, due to recent regulation changes regarding the use of R-22. And Three) You’re dealing with a refrigerant leak.
If this third scenario applies to you, hire a technician ASAP. Refrigerant leaks are one of the most serious AC problems, and can pose a danger to your system and larger household. Keep reading for signs you’re dealing with a refrigerant leak, and remember that you can always count on our HVAC pros at A-TEMP Heating, Cooling & Electrical for all your air conditioning needs.
5 Signs Your AC Refrigerant is Leaking
- Airflow Problems: If your air conditioner is blowing warm air from the vents or having trouble blowing any air at all, it’s important to determine the cause of this issue. First, check your thermostat setting, to ensure you have not accidentally left your HVAC system in heating mode. Next, see if you have your system on “auto” or “fan” mode. The fan setting will continue blowing air, even when the system has cycled off, which could explain why the air you are feeling is warm rather than cold. Finally, check to see if your air filter is clogged. A dirty filter can obstruct the cool air you need from reaching the entirety of your household. If, after all this, you still aren’t getting proper airflow, call a technician. Assuming none of these other problems are to blame, there is a good chance an AC leak is causing the issue, in which case you should get it taken care of right away.
- Frozen Coils: When warm air passes over your indoor AC unit’s evaporator coils, the refrigerant in your system absorbs the heat, converting that air to the cool temperatures you need to achieve a comfortable home. Therefore, when refrigerant starts leaking, your coils will not be able to absorb those warm temperatures, and the coils will freeze. Look for water dripping from your system or condensation from the line in order to catch this problem before ice has formed. Once your evaporator coils have frozen over, your whole system can shut down, so it is important to hire a technician to take care of frozen coils before you need to replace your AC unit’s compressor, if not your whole system.
- Bubbling & Hissing Noises: When a crack in a refrigerant line occurs, the line may start to emit a hissing sound, letting you know that a hole has opened. While hissing sounds coming from your air conditioning system do not always herald a refrigerant leak, they are never a good sign, which is why you should always hire a technician if your unit is making strange noises. An even more serious sound is bubbling, which may indicate a leak is growing. Either way, you’ve got a problem on your hands, so do not ignore the noise, and do not try to investigate it on your own. Refrigerant is a dangerous chemical, so it is essential you hire an HVAC professional whenever a leak occurs.
- Rising Humidity: In addition to cooling your home, your air conditioner also dehumidifies your air. When it stops removing humidity from your air, the explanation is often a tear in the refrigerant line. There are other factors that can affect your home’s humidity levels, too, such as the climate you live in and conditions in your home that increase moisture. However, if your home is becoming hotter and more humid, there is a good chance a refrigerant leak is causing this issue, especially if you are dealing with…
- Increased Energy Costs: When refrigerant starts to leak from your AC, your system will have to work harder to cool your whole home. This in turn will drive up your energy costs, ultimately resulting in higher utility bills for less comfort. This problem is also compounded by the fact that when an AC problem occurs, many people’s first instinct is to adjust the thermostat. When you lower your thermostat temperature to compensate for a struggling AC unit, your bills may become higher still, all while you continue to struggle to get the cool temperatures your home needs. That’s why as a general rule of thumb, we do not suggest playing with your thermostat too much when an AC problem occurs. Instead, call our skilled HVAC technicians to see if you need an air conditioning repair. Our experts will be able to determine if a refrigerant leak is what’s driving your energy costs up, and get to work ASAP to take care of the problem.