Early Detection and Prevention of Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks

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Early Detection and Prevention of Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks

Early detection of refrigerant leak in your AC

As we begin the cooling season for the summer, it’s a great time to assess the condition and performance of your home’s AC system. Paying close attention to your air conditioner’s performance as the weather gets warmer helps for early detection of common problems like refrigerant leaks.

The refrigerant in an AC compressor is under constant high pressure, and the lines that hold it decay over the course of time. If your system happens to spring a leak, the leak must be patched, the lost refrigerant replaced, and the system recharged. Depending on how long the system has been leaking, and how much refrigerant it has lost, the cost of repair can be daunting.

Annual air conditioning tune-ups and checkouts are an important part of preventing expensive repairs by allowing us to catch them at an early stage. Inspections and pressure tests, which we perform on every AC service visit, can indicate when the refrigeration components need repair. If you know what to look for, you may be able to catch a refrigerant leak between annual checks and save major expense.

Following are six common signals the AC refrigerant is leaking.

Inadequate Cooling. If your system just isn’t getting the job done, especially during the hottest part of the day, leaking refrigerant is one of the most common causes.

Humid Air Indoors. One function of an air conditioner is to dehumidify the air as it gets removed from indoor areas. With a refrigerant leak, an AC system’s ability to remove moisture is just as compromised as its cooling ability.

Longer Cooling Cycles. Listen for the sound of air moving through your vents. If the AC runs a little long, as if it’s having trouble keeping up with the workload, that could be a sign your system needs refrigerant.

Utility Bills Increasing. If you see a sudden surge in your utility bills, that could be a good sign that your AC system is leaking refrigerant (or has other issues). Inefficient cooling, and longer cooling cycles cause by leaking/lower refrigerant levels can keep the electric meter churning.

Ice Appearing on Evaporator Coils. One of the most obvious signs of a refrigerant leak is displayed on the outdoor AC compressor. If you see ice crystals forming on the evaporator coil during hot weather, call for service right away.

Hissing or Gurgling Sound. If you can hear this type of sound emanating from your outdoor AC unit while it’s not running, it could be an indicator of a serious refrigerant leak. You may not be able to hear the hissing while the fan is actually running.

Refrigerant leaks happen for a variety of reasons, from damage by an external source (like hitting the unit with a lawn mower) or neglected maintenance. Even a well-maintained system may spring a leak from time to time. Older units leaking refrigerant may be an early warning sign that it should be replaced as early as next season.

In an ideal situation, annual air conditioning tune-ups and checkouts will allow us to catch problems early before little headaches become big problems.

If you think your system might possibly be leaking refrigerant, contact Pickerington Heating & Cooling by phone at 614-837-4026 or use our convenient appointment page. We’ll send one of our experienced and highly trained HVAC service techs to diagnose the situation.