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What To Do if You Suspect a Refrigerant Leak in Your Air Conditioning System

Refrigerant leak

What is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is the fundamental substance that is contained in the copper coils of the air conditioning unit. Without refrigerant your air conditioning unit would not be able to keep your home cool. Your air conditioning unit is a sealed system that does not use up refrigerant. It is not necessary to add more refrigerant as time passes since you bought and installed your system. At installation your unit will be adequately charged, from here on regularly scheduled maintenance is highly recommended. If your system is low on refrigerant, then most likely there is a refrigerant leak.

Signs of Low Refrigerant

  • Your air conditioner is blowing hot air. If there is not enough refrigerant, then the system will struggle to cool the air in your home.
  • You see ice on the evaporator coil. If the refrigerant is low, then the coil will get too cold causing condensation on the coil to freeze.
  • You hear a bubbling noise or a hissing sound coming from the air conditioner
  • Your house is taking longer than usual to cool down
  • You notice higher than normal electric usage on your bill
  • Short cycling. This is when your system starts up and only runs for a brief amount of time before shutting down. This may mean that the system is straining itself and the compressor starts to overheat so the system will shut down to protect itself.

These symptoms could also be due to something else, but the first thing you will want to do is have the refrigerant level checked.

Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant leaks are one the most common problems in the air conditioning industry. When the refrigerant gets low, your unit works harder to keep your home cool and causes your electricity bill to rise. If the leak is not repaired the refrigerant will continue to leak out and require service. If you keep recharging the system instead of repairing the leak it can cause damage to the compressor and require a major and expensive repair. Although the cost to repair the leak is higher than to recharge the system, once the repair is made the reoccurring costs of recharging the system would be eliminated. A trained technician will repair the leak and charge the system with the amount required by the manufacturer’s specifications. Your air conditioning works the most efficient and at its optimal levels when it is neither overcharged or undercharged.

What Causes Refrigerant Leaks?

The list below highlights some of the most common causes of refrigerant leaks:

  • Erosion of the metal components over time due to formic acid is the most common cause of refrigerant leaks. The formic acid creates small holes causing the unit to eventually leak refrigerant. This can be repaired by replacing the individual damaged components or installing an entire new air conditioning unit depending on the severity of the damage.
  • Vibration in the system
  • The age of the air conditioning unit can also be a factor. Refrigerant circulates under high pressure which over time will cause a thinning of the tubing. Furthermore, there are many different connections that can weaken over time.
  • A new air conditioning unit can leak refrigerant if not installed properly. At installation, a professional air conditioning technician will rule out any leaks by testing the system’s soldering often by using nitrogen.
  • Factory defects

What Should You Do If You Suspect A Refrigerant Leak?

Only trained, licensed professionals should be handling refrigerant. If you suspect a refrigerant leak in your system, call us to come inspect and diagnose your system. If you continuously run the air conditioner while it is low on refrigerant it increases your electricity bills. It may also cause bigger issues down the line if left unrepaired. It is important to get a refrigerant leak repair taken care of quickly to avoid a costly repair down the line or having to replace the entire unit.

How to Prevent A Refrigerant Leak

The best way to prevent a refrigerant leak is by having an HVAC company perform regular maintenance of the air conditioning units. An HVAC technician will be able to identify symptoms of a leak and be able to do repairs before it turns into a bigger issue. Performing regular HVAC maintenance will help keep your HVAC parts working properly and keep your AC unit in good working condition throughout the year.

If you suspect your AC unit may have a refrigerant leak, you can give us a call today at (818) 341-3406 contact us online. Our experts will asses the entire HVAC system and determine what repairs are needed. LA Construction Heating and Air is a certified HVAC Contractor. We would be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. To learn more about services we offer, please visit our homepage.

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