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5 Signs Of a Air Conditioner (AC) Refrigerant Leak & Ways to Find It

How Does An Air Conditioner Work?

You may enjoy warm summer nights, but most of us don’t want heat creeping into our air-conditioned living spaces. If your AC unit has started blowing warm air or your home feels humid, you may have a refrigerant leak.

Here’s an important thing to know about your AC unit and refrigerant: a properly running system circulates and maintains the same amount of refrigerant. In other words, you shouldn’t run out. If you’re concerned that your living space isn’t cold, review these telltale signs of an air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak.

Top Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

1. Increased Utility Bills

Suppose an air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak is negatively impacting your comfort level and causing you to dial down the thermostat in hopes of getting cooler air. In that case, you’re likely using more electricity. Review your utility bill for inconsistent usage levels and compare your current usage levels to the same time last year. If your usage is the same, but your bills are higher, you may have a refrigerant leak.

2. Frozen Evaporator Coils

In the cooling process, your refrigerant passes through an indoor evaporator coil to absorb heat from the air that blows over the coil. If you have low refrigerant levels in your cooling system, there won’t be enough refrigerant to absorb the excess heat in the air, causing your evaporator coils to freeze. Frozen evaporator coils are a major sign of a small to large air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak. The moment you see ice collecting on your indoor coils, get in touch with the trusted HVAC technicians at ServiceMark for AC maintenance.

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3. High Humidity Levels

As your air conditioner cools your home, it also works to dehumidify it. An insignificant amount of freon isn’t able to cool or dehumidify your residence. If you notice the humidity is higher indoors than usual, consult a professional to service your AC unit.

Supply Vents

4. Warm Air Circulating Out of Vents

If lukewarm air is blowing from your vents, don’t panic. First, confirm that your thermostat is on “Auto” mode and not “Fan” mode. Next, inspect the thermostat to confirm the system is set to “Cool” mode. Another helpful tip is to clean your air filter. A blocked filter might not allow your unit to perform to the best of its abilities. If you’ve done all of this and still have warm air blowing through your vents, you might have an air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak.

5. Hissing Noises

A bubbling or hissing sound from the refrigerant lines behind your outdoor condenser or indoor air handler are not good signs. Hissing noises typically indicate an air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak that should be taken care of immediately. Refrigerant is a harmful chemical, so be sure not to touch the refrigerant lines in your cooling system—simply contact the HVAC technicians at ServiceMark.

HVAC Warranty

Why Is a Refrigerant Leak Bad For Your Air Conditioner?

Since your air conditioner has a set charge of refrigerant, losing any of it puts the system’s performance in jeopardy. With an air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leak, your system can lose its cooling capacity, putting undue stress on the air compressor. When the refrigerant level is too low, your compressor will work harder to achieve the temperature on your thermostat. This will cause your compressor to overheat and eventually burn out.

Replacing a compressor or an air conditioner is a costly expense. To avoid this issue, it’s best to fix refrigerant leaks when they happen. Addressing a leaky cooling unit is an easy job for the HVAC professionals at ServiceMark—but the consequences of letting leaks go without repairs are often catastrophic. The experienced team at ServiceMark is committed to your comfort. Contact us to service your AC refrigerant leak.

How to Find a AC Refrigerant Leak With an Electric Leak Detector

An electric leak detector is a handheld device with a bendable tip that is designed to inspect your air conditioner and diagnose where the refrigerant leak originates. In most situations, air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leaks are in the evaporator coil and are easily found with an electronic leak detector. Occasionally leaks can be repaired by brazing the refrigerant line set with torches. However, in most cases, you’ll have to replace the entire indoor or outdoor coil.

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Ways to Locate a Refrigerant Leak With Pressurization

If we know there’s a refrigerant leak, but the electric leak detector does not solve the problem, a licensed technician will perform the following steps:

1.) Disconnect the line set from both units, removing all refrigerant from the system and isolating the line set from both the condenser coil and the evaporator coil.

2.) Weld the line set shut with a torch and solder.

3.) Perform a pressure test. To do this, we install taps on each end of the line set, pump nitrogen into the line set, and pressurize it to the manufacturer-specified PSI. Then we spray the line set with a soap-like mixture. We look for bubbles, which reveal where the leaks are.

4.) Do the same thing for both coils. We install taps on the outdoor and indoor coils to see if the leak is in one of those.

5.) Check the pressure. After 24 or 48 hours, we can confirm that the pressure inside the line set or the coils has dropped.

Electronic leak detectors are great tools, but sometimes they fail to locate air conditioner (AC) refrigerant leaks in small or difficult to access areas. Luckily, the pressurization method will always find a refrigerant leak. When you know the location of a refrigerant leak, you can make an informed decision about how to deal with it.

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AC Repair Services

If your air conditioning unit is failing to generate cool, dry air, it may be hard to find relief from hot summer days. Our team of licensed technicians will perform the necessary air conditioning repair services to eliminate the refrigerant leak. In addition, our staff offers other types of HVAC and plumbing services such as water heater repair, furnace installation, and sump pump repair. Give our staff a call by phone at (302) 367-7915 to receive help with a malfunctioning central air conditioning system. You can count on us for 24-hour service, seven days a week.

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