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What You Need to Know About Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks

Published on: March 26, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTE: . Our company is located in British Columbia, Canada. If you are reading this article in another location, we hope you enjoy the information, but unfortunately we cannot service you. 

Any leak discovered in an HVAC system is a bad time! Not only does it mean your air conditioner requires repairing, but also leaks are costly to both diagnose and fix. It doesn’t help that there are multiple reasons for a leak to happen.

The only good way to stop an air conditioner refrigerant leak, which is the most common type we see on the job, is to prevent one from happening in the first place. With that in mind, here is some information that’s all about these leaks, symptoms you’ve got one going on, what to do if you discover a leak, and how best to prevent this kind of HVAC problem altogether.

How do these leaks happen?

In order to best understand how a refrigerant leak happens in the first place, it helps to know a little about air conditioning. Refrigerant is the main fuel source for refrigerators and air conditioners of all types. When switched on, the refrigerant moves between the two sets of coils within the air conditioning system, the one indoors and the one outdoors. Along its way through the indoor coil, the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the indoor air and then cools it down.

A leak may happen for quite a few reasons, which makes diagnosing it difficult:

  • Vibration against the coils, which can cause a leak over time
  • Joints or connections in an air conditioner or heat pump that have also weakened over time
  • Pollutants in the air such as cleaners, air fresheners, hair spray, and “off gassing” from building materials and furnishings can corrode the copper tube walls of the indoor coil, causing leakage in more than one location
  • Age of the unit is also a factor; as the refrigerant continues to circulate under high pressure, wear forms on the inside of the tubing which causes its walls to thin, therefore leading to the possibility of leaks by the formerly mentioned causes

What are the signs of an A/C refrigerant leak?

While some of these signs may seem obvious, it’s actually pretty hard to tell their origin unless you’re an experienced professional. That’s why it’s so crucial to ask your regular technician to check up on your system when it’s less than busy; they can detect and diagnose the potential for this problem before it even happens. The typical signs of a leak include:

  • A loss in cooling power
  • No cool air being blown
  • A hissing noise; gurgling means there’s a larger leak
  • Frozen evaporator coils
  • Water on the floor near the unit
  • Higher than normal electric bills

What do I do if I find a leak?

Call an HVAC technician ASAP!! Even if it’s the busy season, you can’t afford to let a leak continue to occur. Not only will the leak continue to cost you in terms of expenses, but also it’s dangerous exposing yourself to refrigerant.

One thing you should not do is assume that the only cure for a leak is that the refrigerant level is low and a refill will fix the problem. If you were recently advised this, ignore it!! An air conditioner is not like a car in which oil needs to be replenished over time. A properly functioning system can circulate and maintain the same amount of refrigerant.

How to prevent air conditioner refrigerant leaks

Not to sound repetitive, but it’s true—calling your technician is the best way to prevent leaks from occurring in the first place. If proper maintenance is provided on a regular schedule, and you keep your air conditioner clean even before summer, then it’s easier and less expensive on your part to have a potential leak detected than it would be to fix the leak as soon as it happens. It doesn’t help that the signs of a leak are so similar to that of other problems. It’s easy to assume there’s a leak without realizing the issue is as fixable as, say, replacing a clogged air filter.

So, the best way to prevent leaks is to never make assumptions and never DIY a leak if it happens. If you notice water on the floor near the unit or ice on the coils, calling in the professionals is the way to go.

Still need help? Our technicians can inspect and maintain your air conditioner before the busy summer months roll in, and detect potential leaks. Now is the best time to give us a call. At Rep-Air Heating And Cooling we provide our customers with many options that will best suit your needs from heating and cooling to refrigeration. Contact us today for your complimentary quote: 1-778-728-1476 or and don’t forget to take a look at our website: Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for free giveaways!

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