When your HVAC technician tells you that the air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, it might not sound like a serious problem. However, he’ll explain that this is one of the leading causes of AC unit repairs because it damages vital components and eventually results in system failure. As a responsible homeowner, you do your part to keep the unit running in top shape, but a professional inspection is the only way to detect refrigerant leaks and head off expensive repairs.
AC Refrigerant Basics
Your home’s air conditioner is a marvel of sophisticated equipment that runs on basic principles, and the components that keep your home comfortable are technical wonders. The thermostat, fan, motor and evaporator all work together seamlessly to keep the house comfortable. The refrigerant is the life blood of this system, and it cycles from a cold gas to a hot liquid through the compressor and coils. This nonstop process chills the air that blows through the ductwork while the refrigerant remains sealed inside the AC’s system. As long as everything is in good shape, your unit delivers the cool air you expect, and the refrigerant level never drops as it constantly circulates through the compressor and coils.
Why Refrigerant Leaks Occur
Because the refrigerant cycles through a closed loop, it’s almost impossible for a homeowner to detect leaks. The most common sources of trouble are tiny pinholes that form in the coils, and locating them requires professional diagnostic tools. Older HVAC units with copper tubing eventually develop tiny leaks, but even newer models with aluminum coils aren’t immune to the wear and tear of constant cycling. Over time, rubber seals around valves degrade and crack resulting in leakage, and rusty assembly joints allow refrigerant to escape. It might take several years for these problems to become serious, but once the damage is done, repairs and replacements are unavoidable.
Small Problems Turn Expensive
When you call Max Air and explain that the AC isn’t keeping the house cool, we’ll check the refrigerant level first. Leaks in the coils or around valves and seals are almost invisible, but without repair, they rob the system of its ability to perform efficiently. This drives up monthly utility bills and eventually leads to equipment failure. Low refrigerant levels cause the evaporator coil to freeze, and it becomes covered with ice. The compressor stays cool during normal cycling, but refrigerant leaks cause it to overheat and damage the motor. Replacing your condensing unit or a burned-out compressor is a major expense, and both are avoidable with regular, professional inspections.
Affordable Prevention Strategies
You might think that your AC just needs more refrigerant, but the closed system of a properly operating unit keeps the level constant. A certified technician knows that simply topping it off is a temporary solution. Instead, we use special tools designed for detecting leaks throughout the system. We pinpoint the problem, make the proper repairs, and then follows up by recharging your AC with the correct level of refrigerant. A reputable HVAC contractor, like Max Air, includes leak inspections in their regular maintenance checkups, so you’re assured that these tiny problems don’t result in expensive equipment replacements.
Take the smart approach with your home’s AC system by relying on a certified HVAC technician at Max Air for semi-annual inspections and maintenance. It’s an affordable investment that pays off in years of efficient performance and lower utility bills, and it’s your best insurance against small refrigerant leaks turning into expensive homeowner headaches.
Here at Max Air, our certified HVAC technicians perform refrigerant leak detection in Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and throughout the DFW metro area. You can set up a service appointment online, or contact our friendly staff at 817-459-4100 or 972-233-1637. When you call us, you know you’re making the right decision.