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How to Detect Refrigerant Leaks in Your AC

air-conditioner-condenser-3D-renderIn our last post, we discussed water leaking from an air conditioning system. This is an easy problem to detect: you only have to notice water dripping from the AC cabinet. But there’s another type of leak that can affect an air conditioner, and it’s both more damaging for the air conditioner and more difficult to detect until it becomes a major problem, and that’s refrigerant leaks. 

Your AC is designed to run on a specific amount of refrigerant (known as its charge). Any loss in that amount will cause the air conditioner to malfunction and eventually lead to the compressor burning out. When that happens, the system usually must be replaced. So leaking refrigerant is an AC repair you want to get done as soon as you can. Below we’ve listed the signs that will help you know when to call us for AC repair in Spring Hill, FL because of a possible refrigerant leak.

Hissing and bubbling sounds

The refrigerant moving through the copper lines of your air conditioning system is either in a hot gaseous state or a cold liquid state. If leaks develop, the escaping refrigerant will create either a hissing sound (gas) or a bubbling sound (liquid). If you hear either of these coming from the air conditioner’s indoor or outdoor cabinets, call for technicians right away.

A rise in indoor humidity

When the refrigerant charge of an AC drops, it will affect how much heat the AC can draw from the air and cause a decline in cooling capacity. However, you’re more likely to first notice a rise in humidity rather than a drop in cooling when your AC is losing refrigerant. Less refrigerant in the evaporator coil will lower the amount of moisture the air conditioner causes to condense on the coil as it runs. 

A frozen evaporator coil

Ice on an air conditioner is never a good sign, although people often mistake it as just the AC working harder than usual. Although several different problems can cause the evaporator coil of an AC to freeze, a loss of refrigerant is one of the most common. Yes, this sounds sort of backward—why would less refrigerant create ice? What is happening is that the remaining refrigerant in the coil is staying too cold because it can’t absorb enough heat from the air, and the extra cold will cause moisture on the coil to freeze. 

A sudden spike in electrical bills

An AC’s refrigerant charge is designed to keep the refrigerant at a specific pressure. This pressure will plunge if the refrigerant leaks, and this will cause the whole air conditioner to draw on more power to operate than normal. (Although not exactly the same, it’s similar to when a car’s tire loses pressure, which increases the stress on the tires.) If you see a sudden jump in your summer electrical bills, the fault may be an AC that’s losing refrigerant. 

Only professionals can fix refrigerant leaks. Our technicians are licensed to handle refrigerant and they will make sure the leaks in your AC are sealed and the proper amount of refrigerant restored to the system. 

Experience the Balanced Air, Inc. difference! 

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