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Temprite Climate Solutions Blog

Watch Out for AC Refrigerant Leaks!

air-conditioner-condenser-3D-render

Many of the most common problems that can affect a central air conditioning system occur during the last five or so years of the system’s service life. Wear and tear take their toll—even with regular maintenance done each year—and the AC will require attention from professionals until it reaches the point where it costs less to have a new system installed than to continue with repairs.

In this post, we’re looking at a problem that can strike earlier in an AC’s service life, sometimes starting after five years: refrigerant leaks. The copper lines that carry refrigerant through the air conditioner can corrode because of chemicals found in household air, and this often causes refrigerant to escape. Refrigerant loss is a major problem for an AC, that will lower its effectiveness and efficiency and can also cause a catastrophic breakdown. We’ll give you some help understanding these problems and spotting the signs you need air conditioning service in Campbell River, BC to fix refrigerant leaks.

Why These Leaks Create Such Big Trouble

People often mistake refrigerant as an energy source for air conditioners. But electricity is what powers an AC; refrigerant is a heat exchange medium that allows the AC to move heat from indoors to outdoors. As the refrigerant moves between liquid and gaseous states, it doesn’t dissipate, so the amount of refrigerant in an air conditioner won’t drop over the system’s service life—unless it leaks out. 

Each air conditioner is built to run on a specific amount of refrigerant, known as the unit’s charge. If the charge drops, it lowers pressure in the AC and this affects its operation. An air conditioner cannot run efficiently at a lower charge, and the loss of refrigerant will also affect its ability to fully cool a house and cause problems like ice forming along the evaporator coil. 

Worst of all is that a low charge in an air conditioner will eventually cause the compressor to overheat and burn out. A burnt-out compressor must be replaced, and since this is such an expensive repair it’s often better to replace the whole air conditioner instead.

Detecting Refrigerant Leaks

We hope you have the general idea: you want refrigerant leaks fixed as soon as possible. But how can you tell there are leaks in the first place? Below we’ve listed common signs of leaks. 

  • A rise in indoor humidity. You’ll probably notice this before you notice the AC losing its cooling power.
  • Bubbling or hissing sounds coming from the air conditioner’s cabinets. This is the noise of liquid or gaseous refrigerant escaping.
  • Ice forming on the evaporator coil. The reduced refrigerant level isn’t absorbing enough heat, and that’s leaving the remaining refrigerant so cold it creates ice from water vapor. 
  • A sudden rise in your cooling costs that you can’t account for. 
  • The AC begins short-cycling, turning on and off repeatedly over a short period of time.

There are other potential problems behind these signs, but you’ll want those fixed as well, so please call our technicians to inspect the AC and get to the bottom of the issue.

Temprite Climate Solutions serves Courtenay, BC and the Surrounding Areas. For a job done right, call Temprite!

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