When was the last time you had to refill your air conditioning refrigerant? If you cannot remember, this is a good sign. Unlike other fuel sources, AC refrigerant functions on a closed-loop system, meaning you should only have to refill, or “recharge” your refrigerant under specific circumstances. The first reason to refill your refrigerant is that you’re installing a completely new air conditioner, which means installing the refrigerant that comes along with it. The second reason to purchase new refrigerant is that you are converting your air conditioner to a non-Freon-based system because of the 2020 Freon ban, and need to change over to a new fuel type in the process. The third and most common reason to have to recharge your refrigerant—your system has sprung a leak.
At Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC, we are committed to helping you take care of refrigerant leaks quickly and efficiently. Keep reading to learn the most common signs of a refrigerant leak, and remember to call our certified HVAC technicians for all of your AC service needs.
5 Signs You’ve Got a Refrigerant Leak on Your Hands
- Lack of Cool Air: If your air conditioning system is having trouble with airflow, it is possible a refrigerant leak could be to blame, though there are a number of other issues that could cause this problem, so it is best to do some troubleshooting first. Start by checking that your system is in cooling rather than heating mode. Next, make sure that your air conditioner is not set to “fan” mode; if your air conditioner is on this setting, it will continue to blow air even when the system cycles off, which may explain why your air is frequently hot rather than cool. Finally, look at your vents and air filter to see if they are clogged. It is a good idea to replace your system’s air filter seasonally anyway, as this will improve your indoor air quality and help your air conditioner function without dust and debris slowing down the airflow. If you have done all this and find that your system is still experiencing airflow issues, call a technician to see if you’ve got a refrigerant leak on your hands.
- Frozen Coils: When air passes over your AC unit’s coils, it removes the warmth, allowing your system to spread cool air around your home. When your unit springs a refrigerant leak, however, the coils will not be able to absorb the warmth from the air properly, thus causing them to freeze. Frozen coils are a big problem, so watch out for moisture on the coils and pooling water around your unit to catch this issue before it becomes irreversible. Failing to stop your coils from freezing completely may force you to replace your system’s compressor, if not your entire AC unit.
- Strange Noises: If your AC unit’s refrigerant lines spring a leak, you may hear a hissing sound, letting you know that the fuel is escaping. This is not necessarily the only reason your system may make a hissing noise, but no matter what the cause of this sound is, it’s not good, so make sure to contact an experienced AC tech to see what the issue is. Do not approach the refrigerant lines yourself, as refrigerant is made of chemical compounds that can be very dangerous if handled improperly. Also, if that hissing has progressed to a gurgling sound, get a technician over immediately, as this means the leak has likely progressed.
- Increased Humidity: In addition to cooling your air, your AC system also dehumidifies it. If you have noticed a sudden spike in your home’s humidity levels, it could be because your air conditioner’s refrigerant is leaking, and your system no longer has the power needed to remove humidity from the air. Granted, this is not the only reason you may experience humidity problems in your home; the overall amount of moisture in your house and the climate you live in also play a factor. But if you have noticed your humidity increasing as your cool air is decreasing, contact a technician to see if a refrigerant leak could be the cause.
- Rising Air Conditioning Costs: As refrigerant starts to leak out of your AC system, your air conditioner will have to work harder to cool the air in your home, which means that your cooling costs will rise, too. A lot of people assume that when their system starts to lose efficiency, the best thing to do is just to turn down the thermostat, but this is actually the last thing you want to do (if anything, you should be turning your thermostat up when it gets warm out, to balance out your AC usage.) Not only will turning your thermostat up put even more strain on your system, it will cause your utility bills to increase as well. Instead, the next time you find your AC efficiency going down as your energy costs are going up, call an HVAC technician. A professional will be able to tell you whether a refrigerant leak is at the root of your problems, or some other issue is causing this unexpected rise in AC expenses.