It’s essential to check for signs of any damage or leaking refrigerant when it comes to maintaining a functional air conditioning unit. As temperatures rise, the last thing you want is an inefficient cooling system in your home. Read on to learn how to tell if your AC is leaking refrigerant and what steps you should take if it is.
What Is an AC Refrigerant?
AC refrigerant, also known as refrigerant or coolant, is a substance used in air conditioning systems and refrigeration systems to transfer heat and cool the air. It plays a crucial role in the cooling process by absorbing heat from the surrounding air and carrying it away, leaving behind cool air that is then circulated into a space.
Symptoms and Signs of Leaking Refrigerant
Typically, a leaking air conditioner can’t keep the indoor temperature consistent. Here are other common signs that indicate a refrigerant leak:
Reduced Cooling Performance
If you notice that your AC is not cooling your home as effectively as it used to or certain rooms are not cooling evenly, it could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. Low refrigerant levels can impact the AC unit’s ability to cool the air, resulting in reduced cooling performance.
Increased Energy Bills
A refrigerant leak can cause your AC unit to work harder to maintain your desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and higher utility bills. If you notice a sudden spike in your energy bills without any other explanation, it’s worth checking for a possible refrigerant leak.
Hissing or Bubbling Noises
If you hear hissing or bubbling noises coming from your AC unit, it could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant escaping from the cooling system can create these sounds.
Refrigerant leaks can cause ice to form on the evaporator coils of your AC system. If you notice ice buildup on the coils, it could be an indication of a refrigerant leak. However, it’s important to note that other issues, such as a dirty air filter or restricted airflow, can also cause ice to form. To determine the cause of the problem right away, it’s best to schedule a professional inspection.
Strong, Sweet Odor
Some refrigerants have a sweet odor. If you detect a strong, sweet smell coming from your AC unit or near the vents, it could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. However, not all refrigerants have a noticeable odor, so relying solely on this sign may not be sufficient.
AC Unit Is Constantly Running
If your AC seems to be running nonstop without achieving the right temperature, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. Low refrigerant levels can cause the AC system to work harder and longer to cool the air, resulting in continuous operation. To avoid bigger and more costly issues in the long run, call an HVAC professional as soon as you notice that your AC unit is not working efficiently.
Frozen or Greasy Components
Do you notice frost or ice on the refrigerant lines, coils or other components during a visual inspection of your AC unit? Watch out because it could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. Moreover, if you notice greasy residue around the system or refrigerant lines, it could indicate a refrigerant leak as well.
Why Refilling the Refrigerant May Not Be the Answer
If you suspect a refrigerant leak in your AC unit, you might think that simply refilling the refrigerant will solve the problem. However, this may not be a long-term solution for several reasons.
Refilling the refrigerant may solve the problem temporarily by restoring the cooling performance of your AC unit. However, if there is a leak, the refrigerant will continue to leak out, and you will need to refill it again and again, resulting in ongoing expenses. To get more accurate and longer-lasting solutions, consult an experienced HVAC technician who can professionally inspect your HVAC system and detect the actual problem.
Many refrigerants used in AC units, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), are harmful to the environment and contribute to ozone depletion and climate change. Continuously refilling the refrigerant can release more of these harmful substances into the atmosphere, contributing to environmental damage.
Simply refilling the refrigerant does not address the underlying issue of the refrigerant leak. The leak can worsen over time and cause further damage to your AC unit, leading to more costly repairs or even premature replacement of the entire system.
In many countries, it is illegal for unlicensed individuals to handle refrigerants or perform repairs on AC units that involve refrigerants. Attempting to refill the refrigerant yourself or hiring an unlicensed individual to do so may result in legal consequences.
Handling refrigerants can be hazardous if not done properly. Refrigerants are often under high pressure and can cause injury or even death if mishandled. It’s best to leave refrigerant-related repairs to qualified HVAC repair professionals who have the proper training, equipment and certification to handle refrigerants safely.
Continuously refilling the refrigerant can become costly in the long run, especially if the leak persists. It’s more cost-effective to address the root cause of the leak and repair it properly rather than repeatedly refilling the refrigerant.
Get in Touch With a Reliable HVAC Company
Realizing that your AC is leaking refrigerant can be worrisome. However, trusting qualified professionals will help you get through it without unexpected costs or added stress. A reputable contractor understands the urgency needed to efficiently address refrigerant leaks and other serious HVAC problems.
At Albert Air Inc., we have specialized in residential and commercial air conditioning service since 1982. Our highly skilled technicians are certified and can diagnose a leaking AC promptly and efficiently. Call us at (714) 526-6368 or fill out our online form to learn more about our services and air conditioning repair near me.