Now that summer is in full swing, your air conditioning usage is probably in full swing, too. With this increased pressure on your air conditioner, you may be wondering, “when was the last time I replaced my refrigerant?” Except this is a trick question. AC refrigerant functions on a closed-loop system, which means you will only have to replace it under a specific set of circumstances: 1) You are purchasing a new air conditioner altogether, in which case new refrigerant will be a part of the package. 2) You are converting your current air conditioning system to support a different kind of refrigerant (this has become more common lately due to changing restrictions regarding the use of Freon in the U.S.) And 3) you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.
The final scenario is the most serious of the three listed above, and merits immediate action on the part of an experienced professional. Fortunately, our heating and AC experts have everything you need to keep your system running safely and efficiently. Keep reading to learn the top signs of a refrigerant leak, and remember that our expert technicians at EnviroSafe are available for all of your air conditioning repair needs.
The Top 5 Ways to Tell If You Have a Refrigerant Leak
- Airflow Problems: If your air conditioner is having problems with airflow, one possible explanation is that your refrigerant is leaking. Before jumping to any conclusions, however, make sure to check for other possible issues. First, make sure your thermostat is set to cooling rather than heating. Next, see if your AC unit is on the “fan” setting. If it is, make sure to change it, as this will cause your system to blow air even when it cycles off, which could explain why your air is hot rather than cold. Finally, inspect your air filter and vents for any obstructions. A clogged air filter will not only affect your indoor air quality, but may also worsen your AC system’s performance. This is why it’s important to change your air filter once every season, if not twice during the summer. If, after all this, you still cannot find an explanation for your airflow issues, call a technician to see if you are dealing with a refrigerant leak.
- Strange Sounds: If you have noticed a loud hissing sound coming from your air conditioner recently, you could be dealing with a refrigerant leak. While it is not guaranteed that’s what’s causing the hissing noise, don’t get too close to your refrigerant lines, just in case. Refrigerant is a dangerous chemical compound, and should only be handled by an experienced professional. If the hissing sound turns to gurgling, make sure to call an HVAC technician right away, as this is a sign that the leak has grown.
- Frozen Coils: When air flows over your AC system’s coils, the refrigerant in the system absorbs the heat from the air, allowing you to get the cool temperatures you need in your home to stay comfortable during the summertime. But when a refrigerant leak occurs, your coils will not be able to function correctly, and the refrigerant in your system is likely to cause them to freeze. Make sure to look out for condensation on your air conditioner’s refrigerant lines, or pooling water underneath the unit, as this is a sign that the coils are close to freezing. Call a technician right away if you notice this happening, as failing to stop your coils from completely freezing may force you to replace your air handler unit, if not your entire AC system.
- Increased Humidity Levels: Your air conditioner doesn’t just remove heat from your air. It also cools your home by lowering humidity levels. However, when a refrigerant leak occurs, your system will not be able to properly dehumidify your home. There are other factors, of course, that can lead to high humidity, such as the climate in which you live and the overall moisture levels in your house. But if you have noticed a decrease in airflow accompanied by a rise in humidity, you should definitely call a technician to see if you have an AC leak, especially if that rise in humidity has been accompanied by…
- Rising Utility Bills: Although it’s almost impossible for your air conditioning costs not to go up as you use the system more throughout the summer, a sudden spike in your utility bill is not normal. If your air conditioning habits have mostly remained the same but your cooling costs have quickly shot up, call a technician to see if you have a refrigerant leak on your hands. There could be many explanations for this problem, but a dramatic increase in utility bills is a surefire sign that something is off with your system.