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What are the Symptoms of an Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leak?

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One of the biggest and most common issues that can develop with air conditioning systems is a refrigerant leak. If your system is leaking refrigerant, it can cause all sorts of performance and efficiency problems. In order to minimize the amount of damage that a refrigerant leak can cause, it’s important to know what signs to look out for. Today we’re going to talk about the common symptoms of a refrigerant leak and what you should do if you suspect your system is leaking!


Air conditioners don’t use up refrigerant


Before we talk about the signs of a refrigerant leak, it’s important to understand that under normal conditions your system should not lose any refrigerant. Your air conditioner does not use up refrigerant the way that a car uses up gas. Instead, it cycles the same refrigerant between your system’s indoor and outdoor units. When your air conditioner is operating with no problems, it will always contain the same amount of refrigerant. That’s why you should be suspicious of any contractor who keeps refilling your system with refrigerant without patching up any leaks.


Symptoms of an air conditioner refrigerant leak


    • Your home takes a long time to cool. Refrigerant is what absorbs heat from inside of your home and carries it outside. If your system doesn’t have enough refrigerant, it will take much longer for your home to cool down because there is less refrigerant available to remove heat.


    • Warm air is coming out of your air registers. When your system is low on refrigerant, the air that comes out of your registers will not be as cold as it should be. If the supply air from your system feels warm, a refrigerant leak could be to blame.


    • You hear a hissing sound. Refrigerant leaks are caused by punctures or holes in the refrigerant lines. As refrigerant leaks out of those holes, it often creates a hissing sound. This can be heard either inside your home or outside near the condenser unit, depending on the location of the leak.


    • Your evaporator coils are frozen over. Another tell-tale sign of a refrigerant leak is frozen evaporator coils. When there is an inadequate amount of refrigerant inside the evaporator coils, the coils will not be able to absorb as much heat as they normally would. This can cause the condensation that builds up on the coils to freeze over and can lead to a system breakdown.


What to do if you suspect a refrigerant leak


If you encounter any of the symptoms above, contact Jerry Kelly right away. We will thoroughly inspect your refrigerant lines for leaks and repair any of the leaks that we find. Looking for refrigerant leaks is also something we do during every air conditioner tune-up.


If you have any questions about these refrigerant leak symptoms, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly, your St. Charles, MO, air conditioning contractor We provide service all over the St. Louis area, including towns like Clayton, Cottleville and Creve Coeur, MO.


photo credit: beigephotos via photopin (license)


Can I put coolant in my air conditioner myself?

No. For both health and environmental reasons, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises against charging AC refrigerant by yourself. The EPA mandates that any action using R-22 AC refrigerant, a known greenhouse gas, be documented and reported so that it may be tracked. To avoid discharge into the environment, all R-22 must be properly recovered and repurposed. The EPA has certified particular equipment for these purposes.

How much does refrigerant cost?

AC refrigerant costs between $125 and $150 per pound. Depending on the kind and size of the HVAC unit, most homeowners will pay between $200 and $400 for a refill. If you have an older AC  unit that still uses the now-obsolete R-22 refrigerant, you may need to spend $600 or more, as R-22 is no longer made and costs more due to low supply.

How do you know if your central air needs more coolant?

If you notice ice forming on the refrigerant line, you may be low on coolant. When the refrigerant in your air conditioner runs low, the evaporator coil becomes excessively cold, causing cold liquid refrigerant to leak back into the refrigerant line. The surrounding moisture on the refrigerant line will freeze as a result. This is an indication that you require additional freon.

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Kimberly G.
01:51 22 May 22
I had my ac tuneup for the Dpring. Aaron was very professional and thorough. He did great work.
K M.
20:14 21 May 22
Erik was very helpful in explaining what was wrong with my A/C unit. Was thorough and efficient, very knowledgeable.
bryan D.
18:23 21 May 22
Mike C came out and fixed our ac in a timely and professional manner. Very happy with the service he performed.

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