Air conditioners use a special fluid called refrigerant to cool down your air. The refrigerant expands, and it absorbs heat from the air in the process. That cool air is then blown through your home. Sometimes, as an air conditioner ages, it springs a leak in the refrigerant coil, and refrigerant starts to seep out. This compromises the AC unit's ability to cool and is an issue you need to have repaired ASAP. But what are the signs of a refrigerant leak? Take a look.
Long Cooling Cycles
Maybe your air conditioner used to run for five or ten minutes at a time, but now it is running for longer periods. Meanwhile, your home might not be cooling off quite as much as it should. For example, the thermostat may be set to 72, but your home only ever cools to 73, even though the unit is running for long periods. This is one of the surest signs of a refrigerant leak. There's not enough refrigerant left in the coils to absorb the required amount of heat from the air.
Air conditioners do not just lower the temperature in your home. They also pull moisture out of the air to reduce the humidity, which makes your home feel cooler. When an AC unit has a refrigerant leak, it may not run enough to effectively remove the humidity. So, your home may start to feel sticky and muggy.
When there is a leak in the refrigerator coils, the refrigerant can sometimes expand too much and become too cold. This often causes the coils to freeze over. They may look like they have snow on them, or in more serious cases, you might notice ice buildup. People sometimes assume this is normal since AC units are meant to be cold, but it is not normal; it's a sign of a coolant leak.
If you walk past your air conditioner, do you notice an odd, hard-to-place chemical odor? This is probably the scent of coolant leaking out of the AC unit. The odor can give some people headaches, so once you notice it, stay away from your AC until you get a chance to have it repaired.
A refrigerant leak can make it difficult or impossible for your air conditioner to cool your home. Talk to your HVAC contractor if you think your AC unit may have a leak.
For more information on air conditioning services, contact a professional near you.