AC Refrigerant Leaks

AC refrigerant leaks are among the most common AC repairs required. The signs of refrigerant leaks often go unnoticed until the air conditioner stops working. In the following article, we’ll help you to understand why the air conditioning system may leak refrigerants and the signs you need to be aware of.

The Signs of Freon Leaks

Common signs of leaking refrigerant include:

  • The air conditioner blows warm air
  • Increased electric bills
  • It takes longer than normal for your house to cool down
  • The humidity is increased indoors
  • A hissing sound at the outdoor unit or indoor coils
  • Frozen evaporator coils or refrigerant lines


The Air Conditioner Blows Warm Air

A lack of cooling is a prominent sign of low refrigerant in your AC unit. Before you call for AC repair, ensure the thermostat is properly set. The fan should be set to ‘Auto’ and the function to ‘Cool’. Otherwise, a fan set on manual runs all the time, and a thermostat set on ‘off’ will not produce cooling.

When the air conditioner isn’t running at all, check the breaker in your home’s electrical panel. If it is off, switch it back on. If it repeatedly trips off, there is either a problem with the AC unit, or the breaker itself.


Increased Electric Bills

When the refrigerant is leaking from your home’s air conditioner, the unit must work harder. You may notice it running constantly or cycling more frequently. This drives the electric bill up and increases wear on it. Call for repair as soon as possible to avoid damage to the unit, and increased electric bills. Many systems have a safety feature than shuts the compressor down before damage occurs. Either way, the leak will have to be repaired and the AC recharged with its specific refrigerant. Simply adding refrigerant won’t correct the problem of a leak.  Furthermore, it isn’t recommended to breath refrigerant. Health problems can occur when the leaking evaporator core is located indoors. Contact Metro Express Service technicians for reliable repair.


The Cool Down of Your Home Takes Longer

Without refrigerant the AC system is unable to cool your home. As a leak occurs you may notice the air isn’t as cold, and that it takes longer to cool your home down. The longer the leak continues, the worse this will become, including an uncomfortable home. Call for repair if you suspect a refrigerant leak.


Increased Humidity Indoors

A properly functioning air conditioner removes moisture from the air and discharges it. An increased humidity indoors makes it feel hotter than it actually is. When refrigerant leaks out, your AC can’t properly remove the moisture from the air inside your home, resulting in high indoor humidity and your discomfort. Repair of the leak, and recharging with the proper refrigerant will restore your comfort.


A Hissing Sound

It isn’t all the time that a homeowner will hear the escape of refrigerant. However, if you do hear it, a leak is a good possibility. Depending on the size of the leak, you may hear hissing, gurgling or even bubbling sounds. Don’t hang around breathing the escaping gas, call for repair. Our expert technicians will locate the leak, repair the cause, recharge the system, and restore comfort to your home.


Frozen Evaporator Coils Refrigerant Lines

Ice or ‘frost’ on the evaporator coils and/or refrigerant lines are a classic sign of a refrigerant leak. However, this may also occur if you have blocked vents in your home with furniture, rugs, boxes or etc…

You may not have noticed ice on the coils, but you may have seen water draining on the floor when the indoor evaporator coil thaws.

Another potential cause of frozen coils may be due to an excess of closed or blocked vents. This affects the balance in the system, just as blocking the air return can starve it of the air flow it requires. Keep vents open and clutter free, and don’t block them with furniture, or other items. Maintain clear space around the air return grill, and store furniture or boxes elsewhere!


Causes of Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant leaks can be due to several things, including:

  • Copper tube coils can experience corrosion resulting in refrigerant leaks. Many manufacturers have taken note, and now use more durable materials resistant to corrosion.
  • Over time, joints and connections may experience weakening, resulting in a leak.
  • Wear and tear due to age can result in thinning of tube and coil walls. In this situation, replacement of the coil may be required. If your AC is 10 years old or older, consider replacement of the unit. Aging systems tend to experience an increase in problems over time.
  • Vibration can cause connections to loosen, resulting in refrigerant leaks. Annual or biannual maintenance inspections can help reduce the occurrence.
  • Factory defects may be possible.
  • The original installation of the unit may be a contributor of a leak when installed improperly.


Call for AC Repair

Don’t try to repair a refrigerant leak yourself. Simply adding refrigerant won’t stop the leak, or correct its cause. Furthermore, the public isn’t able to purchase the refrigerant used in home air conditioners. Your AC may require the evacuation of air in the system, requiring specialized equipment and a trained HVAC technician. Once evacuated, a specifically measured amount of refrigerant will be provided. Only trust the repair and care of your AC system to a qualified HVAC technician. Metro Express Service offers emergency service 24/7 for your convenience and comfort. We are a member of the BBB.


Randy Murphy

Randy Murphy has been building his knowledge of the air conditioning and heating business for several years now. He first started applying his knowledge while working for his father’s HVAC company. Later, in 1987, Randy started his own business: Metro Express Service. He has been a top 10 Trane & Amana dealer for over eight years. When it comes to heating and cooling, Randy knows the business better than anyone.
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