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6 Signs Your Air Conditioner Might Have a Refrigerant Leak

HVAC Technician with Leak Detector
With winter on its way out, many homeowners are looking forward to the warmer spring and summer months. Since you will be relying heavily on your home's air conditioning system to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature when outdoor temperatures start to climb, it can be beneficial to start thinking about maintaining your AC system properly so you can identify potential problems early.
One thing you will want to inspect is the refrigerant levels. The refrigerant within your air conditioner is constantly under pressure. This pressure can cause leaks if the lines transporting refrigerant throughout the AC unit begin to deteriorate.
A refrigerant leak will not only compromise the performance of your air conditioner, but it could also put your family's health at risk. You should know how to identify some signs that your AC is leaking refrigerant so you address the leak quickly and effectively.
1. Strange Sounds
You can identify a refrigerant leak if you listen closely to your air conditioner after it has been turned on, but is not in a cooling cycle. If you hear a bubbling or hissing sound coming from the outdoor compressor, these noises indicate a serious refrigerant leak that will need to be repaired soon in order to preserve the integrity of your home's AC system.
2. Ice
You should also complete a visual inspection of your outdoor compressor, which can be beneficial in identifying a potential refrigerant leak. One of the tell-tale signs of a leak is an accumulation of ice on the evaporator coils in your compressor.
This ice indicates that the refrigerant is not properly displacing heat. Ice buildup on your evaporator coils means you have a serious leak that will need professional repair.
3. Increased Costs
A great way to identify problems with your home’s AC system is for you to keep a close eye on your monthly utility bills. When your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, it will not be able to efficiently generate the cool air needed to maintain your desired indoor temperature. The AC system will have to work harder to cool your home, resulting an increase in energy use.
This spike in energy use will become evident when you see your monthly utility costs start to increase as outdoor temperatures rise.
4. Pooling Liquid
If your home's AC system has a refrigerant leak, you will often be able to spot pooling liquid around the base of your outdoor compressor. Refrigerant that is pushed out of deteriorating hoses will drip down onto the ground, puddling in the area near the leak.
You should avoid contact with pooling refrigerant, as this liquid can be toxic. Have an HVAC professional help you clean up the leaked refrigerant and repair damaged hoses to eliminate pooling refrigerant in the future.
5. Extended Cooling Cycles
Listen closely to your air conditioner when you are trying to diagnose a refrigerant leak. You will hear air being pushed through your home's ducts during a cooling cycle. If you notice that the cooling cycles are becoming longer, these extended cycles could be a result of the reduced efficiency associated with a refrigerant leak.
6. Humid Indoor Air
A refrigerant leak in your AC system could cause humidity levels in your home to rise. Water vapor is removed from the warm air drawn into your outdoor compressor as it moves over the evaporator coils.
When a refrigerant leak causes the evaporator coils to ice over, this water vapor cannot be removed. The result is an increase in humidity of the cooled air being delivered into your home.
Routine maintenance and regular inspections can help you prevent refrigerant leaks from compromising the performance of your home's AC system. Work with the experienced professionals at Morey Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling, Inc. to help you identify and address refrigerant leaks in the future.

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