Refrigerant liquid: Everything you need to know about refrigerant leakage In Air Conditioning Systems
The heat-carrying chemical compound is called a refrigerant. It changes from gas to liquid and again to gas to complete the refrigeration cycle. They are used in refrigerators, air conditioners, freezers, and fire suppression devices.
When an air conditioner stops working, it does not produce cold air. Usually, we think that it has run out of refrigerant. It is important to understand that all the appliances having refrigerant have it in an amount, which is enough for the entire lifespan of the appliance. Normally the lifespan of these appliances is 10 – 15 years. If you think that your appliance has no gas, it might be leaking.
We have been using different refrigerants for decades. Before 2010, the most widely used refrigerant was Freon. However, it was very dangerous for the environment, and people concerned with the environment were demanding a ban on its consumption. So, it was discontinued in 2021. Now, we are using another refrigerant, which is called Puron. Technicians, who work with HVAC and other appliances having refrigerants, got special training to handle this chemical. They should be well aware of its environmental hazard and effect on people’s health.
The type of refrigerant does not affect the processing of air conditioning units. A typical AC cycle is about the evaporator coils which turn refrigerant into a gas. This process creates a cool area through which warm air passes. Evaporator coils capture heat, and refrigerants come back to a liquid state when it moves over the condenser coils. It releases the heat outside when it is in liquid form, and the cycle starts again. But if there is a refrigerant leakage, the process is affected, and you cannot get the desired cooling. But how will you know that refrigerant has been leaked?
Signs of a refrigerant leak
If you are not a technician, you cannot check your AC for refrigerant leakage. However, we can help you know some signs that indicate the leakage of this liquid chemical.
- Less cooling: The job of refrigerant is to absorb heat and release it outside the house or room. If the refrigerant level is less in your system, its efficiency will reduce. So, if you notice less cooling and there is no apparent reason, it can be gas leakage.
- The cooling cycle is longer than usual: when you set your Air conditioner at a certain temperature, and it takes very long to get there, it can be suspected of refrigerant leakage. Your AC has to work harder to reach the temperature.
- Low airflow: You can use airflow properly by placing your hand in front of the vent. If the air is cold, but the flow is low, the reason can be refrigerant leakage. When refrigerant is less, the air conditioner fails to produce normal airflow.
- High electricity bills: The air conditioning unit has to work hard if the refrigerant is insufficient. It overburdens the HVAC system, and you have to pay high electricity bills. If you see an unexpected increase in your bills and there is no apparent reason, check your air conditioner’s refrigerant.
- Ice crystals on coils: When the level of refrigerant drops, evaporator coils cannot absorb heat properly. Condensation freezes on coils. You can see ice crystals on evaporator coils, which is a clear sign of refrigerant leakage.
- Water leakage: When AC stops working, the condensation of evaporation coils is converted to water, which drips on the floor. So, if you see water near your AC unit, you can suspect refrigerant leakage.
- Indoor humidity: air conditioners dehumidify indoor air. It is part of their normal processing. However, if your house felt humid and was not before, your AC unit is not working properly.
- Hissing sounds: The refrigerant can easily leak when cracks or holes in the coils. When coolant leaks due to high pressure, there is a hissing sound. In some extreme conditions, you can hear bubbling sounds as well.
- Sweet smell: if you smell something odd, it can be refrigerant leakage. It can be a sweet odor or a smell like chloroform. However, not all coolants have a smell. Some refrigerants have no smell, so it can’t be a sign for every HVAC unit.
What to do if you suspect leakage?
Refrigerants can be dangerous, so don’t try to fix the problem yourself if you suspect leakage. Call a certified HVAC professional to handle this problem. However, make sure that he does not refill the coolant without fixing the leakage problem. In this case, there will be leakage again, and you have to pay for the expensive repairs again. Moreover, a professional can guide you if the leakage is worth repairing or if there is some other possible solution.
How to prevent leakage?
With time, pollutants deposit on coils, and formic acid starts forming. This acid is responsible for making holes in copper coils. So, if you keep your AC coils clean, you can prevent leakage. Leakage can result from regular wear and tear due to the age of your appliances. So, if you keep your HVAC unit well maintained, you can prevent any rising issues. If the coolant is leaking, it is not an emergency, but you need to get it fixed as soon as possible. If you ignore the problem, you may end up spending more money to fix the problem it will create.
With proper maintenance and care, you can prevent coolant leakage. However, you must hire professionals for all the HVAC maintenance and repair services. Technical experts can handle repairs, and they can help you avoid any problems in the future. They can guide you about the current condition of your appliance, and you can get some information and tips to protect your devices. You can find reliable companies in the local market and online too. The company you choose must have professional experts, the latest tools, and responsive customer care professionals. A professional can help you better and can solve all refrigerant-related problems.
About Century Air Conditioning & Heating
Century Air Conditioning & Heat was established in 1986. We’re a family owned and operated HVAC contractor in Orlando, FL. For over 36 years, we’ve been a trusted source for air conditioning equipment, heating equipment and related services. Century is an A+ BBB accredited business.
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