Have you had to refill your air conditioner’s refrigerant lately? Unlike other fuel types, refrigerant functions on a closed-loop system—meaning that unless something is wrong with your system, the answer should be “no.” In fact, there’s only few scenarios in which you should have to refill, or rather, “recharge” your refrigerant: 1) You’re replacing your entire system and the refrigerant that goes along with it. 2) You’re converting your air conditioner to support a refrigerant other than R-22, due to the current Freon phaseout. And 3) You’re dealing with a leak. This final scenario is the most common, and the most pressing. Keep reading to find out the top five signs your refrigerant is leaking from our expert HVAC techs, and remember that for all of your air conditioning needs, you can count on Carter Services.
The Top 5 Ways to Tell You’ve Got a Refrigerant Leak
- You’re Having Trouble Getting Enough Air/Only Getting Warm Air: If you’ve been having problems with airflow recently, it is possible that there is a refrigerant leak in your air conditioner. To check if this is the case, first, make sure that your system is programmed for cooling, not heating. Second, see if your unit is on the “fan” setting. When this is the case, your AC will keep blowing air even when it is not cooling your home. Finally, inspect your vents and air filter to see if they are clogged. You should be replacing your air filter a few times a year anyway, as an air filter that is obstructed by dirt and dust will not only interfere with your air quality, but can also interfere with your system’s performance, and may even drive your cooling costs up. If, after all of this, you still cannot find the source of the problem, call a technician, as there is a good sign a refrigerant leak is the source of your airflow issues.
- Your AC Unit Is Making Strange Sounds: If there is a hissing sound coming from your air conditioner, it is possible that your refrigerant line has sprung a leak. Granted, this is not the only reason your AC unit could make a strange noise, so it is best to call a technician before jumping to conclusions. Also, refrigerant is a dangerous chemical compound, so it is always better to let a professional inspect your lines. If the sound has progressed from a hissing to a gurgling noise, make sure to get a professional over to your house ASAP, as this is a sign that the leak has significantly worsened.
- Your AC Coils Are Frozen: When your air conditioner is working properly, warm air is cooled as it flows over your unit’s coils. But when refrigerant starts to leak, the coils will not be able to do their job properly, and may start to freeze. Again, be careful not to touch the coils yourself, and look out for condensation on the unit and pooling water on the ground. Frozen coils may force you to replace your air handler so it is always best to catch this issue before the coils have fully frozen, and you’re only dealing with excess moisture in your system.
- Your Humidity Levels Are Rising: In addition to cooling your air, your AC system does the very important job of controlling humidity levels. However, when your coils start to freeze, your AC will not be able to dehumidify your air properly, and you may notice a rise in humidity in your home. There are other important factors that affect humidity to take into account too, such as the climate you live in and the total amount of moisture in your home. However, if you’re losing cool air and dealing with humidity problems at the same time, a refrigerant leak could be the cause of the issue.
- Your Cooling Costs Are Going Up: Your cooling costs are likely to rise somewhat during summer, during peak AC usage season. However, a sudden spike in air conditioning bills, especially without a major change in AC usage, is not normal. If you find that your utility bills have gone up without explanation, leaking refrigerant may be the source of the issue.