Have you ever had to replace your air conditioner’s refrigerant? If not, don’t worry—this is a good sign. AC refrigerant functions on a closed-loop system, meaning you should only have to refill – or, as it is known in the HVAC industry, “recharge” – it under specific circumstances. The first instance that you will need refrigerant is when you are installing an entirely new air conditioner, meaning you will get new refrigerant to go along with it. The second scenario is that you are converting your system to a non-Freon-based AC unit, because of the recent Freon phaseout in the U.S., and you need to find a refrigerant supported by your new equipment. The third and most common reason for replacing air conditioner refrigerant is a leak. Refrigerant leaks are a big deal, and something you want to get repaired ASAP, lest you should have to replace your entire system. Read on to learn how to tell if your refrigerant is leaking, and for all your essential HVAC services, make sure to contact our expert technicians at H.L. Moe Co., Inc.
5 Common Signs You’re Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak
- Airflow Problems: If you are experiencing warm air or a lack of air coming from your air conditioner, you could be dealing with a refrigerant leak. First check that the system is not on “fan” setting, as this will cause it to blow air even when it is not in cooling mode. Next, check to see if your vents and air filter are not clogged, as a dirty air filter can significantly obstruct the air coming from your unit. Finally, double check that your HVAC system is in cooling and not heating mode. If you still haven’t found the problem after this, call a technician to see if you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.
- Strange Sounds: Is there a hissing sound coming from your AC unit? This could indicate that there is a tear in the line and refrigerant is leaking out. Before jumping to conclusions, call a technician to check your refrigerant lines for you. And remember, never get too close to these lines yourself, as refrigerant is a dangerous chemical compound, which should only be handled by experienced professionals. You may also hear a gurgling sound if refrigerant is leaking. This noise indicates the leak has progressed even further, so you will want to contact a skilled HVAC tech ASAP.
- Increased Humidity: In addition to cooling your air, your HVAC system also removes humidity from it. When your refrigerant starts to leak, your system will begin to lose efficiency, and will therefore have a harder time controlling humidity levels in your home. It is important to take other factors into account that can affect humidity levels, such as the climate you live in and the overall amount of moisture in your home. But if you notice that your humidity is rising just as your AC’s performance is declining, it is always a good idea to call a technician. The last thing you want to do is ignore humidity issues so long you end up with mold growth on your hands.
- Frozen Coils: When air flows over your AC unit’s coils, the refrigerant inside absorbs heat, allowing your air conditioner to pump cool air around your home. However, when your air conditioner experiences a refrigerant leak, your coils will no longer be able to absorb heat, causing them to freeze. Look out for pooling water and drops of moisture on your unit, as this often precedes fully frozen coils. The closer your coils get to freezing, the greater the chance there is you will have to replace your air handler or your entire system, so it is key to watch out for this issue before things spiral out of control.
- Rising Energy Bills: As your refrigerant leaks and your system loses efficiency, it will have to work harder to cool your home. This in turn will cause your AC bills to go up. The end result is a defective system, meaning higher cooling costs for less comfort. Remember, other than some spiking in summer, your AC bills should ever drastically rise, so call a technician right away if you notice this issue.