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Air Conditioning / January 8, 2019

Telltale Signs of an AC Refrigerant Leak

The refrigerant is a vital fluid in your AC (air conditioning) system. Therefore, a refrigerant leak signifies a major AC malfunction. Below are some of the circumstances in which you should suspect a refrigerant leak.

Reduced Cooling
The refrigerant forms an integral part of the heat transfer mechanism of your AC. The warm air in your house heats the refrigerant, after which the refrigerant flows outside the house and gives up its heat to the outside air. Therefore, one of the first things you will notice with a serious refrigerant leak is reduced cooling. You may even notice warm — instead of cool — air coming out of the supply registers.

Frozen Coils
A refrigerant leak may also freeze the evaporator coils. The evaporator coil, which is a major component of the AC’s indoor unit, carries the refrigerant that absorbs the heat and cools your house. When the refrigerant inside the evaporator coil is low, the coils don’t absorb any heat and stay cold. Moisture will then condense and freeze on the surface of the condenser coils.

You may notice the condensation as ice crystals on the evaporator coils. In some cases, you may not notice actual ice on the coils, but you will see water puddles on the ground under the coils. The water puddles form from ice crystals that melt.

Increased Energy Bills
If the refrigerant is low and the AC can’t cool your house properly, the AC will try to ramp up its operations to meet the shortfall. In such a case, your AC will run all the time or longer than normal. Normally, an AC cycles between on and off periods.

An AC that doesn’t cycle off or that remains on for longer than necessary uses more electricity than it should. As a result, you will witness increased energy bills for your house. The increase in energy bills may come despite the decreased cooling in your house.

High Humidity
The AC cools your house in two main ways. First, the refrigerant absorbs the heat in your house and dumps the heat outside. Secondly, the AC also absorbs some of the moisture in your house so that you don’t feel hot and clammy.

Unfortunately, a refrigerant leak will affect both functions of the AC. As a result, your house will feel more humid than it usually does.

Stains
In some cases, you will also notice actual refrigerant stains that the leaks may cause. Such stains may be visible if the leak has occurred for a long time without your knowledge. Look for signs of refrigerant leaks on the refrigerant piping or the controls, since those are the locations that commonly experience leakage.

Corrosion
Corrosion is one of the major causes of refrigerant leaks. Corrosion-related leaks usually occur when a homeowner doesn’t notice corroded AC parts in time. In such a case, the corrosion eats into the AC material and allows the refrigerant to leak. Therefore, you should suspect or expect a refrigerant leak if the cooling coils or the condensing coil has serious corrosion.

Mechanical Damage
Lastly, you should also suspect a refrigerant leak if you can see physical damage to parts of the AC that handle the refrigerant. Damage to the refrigerant lines, for example, sometimes occurs due to the inherent vibrations of the AC unit. You might also damage the cooling coils if you use the wrong tools to clean ice from the coil.

Contact Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar as soon as possible if you suspect a refrigerant leak from your AC. We have the skills and tools to diagnose and fix the refrigerant leak. Don’t suffer uncomfortable temperatures while a solution is only a phone call away.

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