Refrigerant leaks are fairly common, especially in businesses with older air conditioning systems. When a refrigerant leak occurs, you can expect your energy bills to climb along with your risk of a hefty repair bill down the road. Finding a refrigerant leak is not always easy, especially if you do not know where to look. Before calling in an AC repair professional, familiarize yourself with the signs and causes of a refrigerant leak, as well as how to find a leak in your AC system.
What Causes Refrigerant Leaks?
In a standard AC system, refrigerant is the substance inside the coils that has the responsibility of removing heat from the air in your building. When an AC unit is installed, the proper amount of refrigerant is added to the unit. If everything remains properly sealed, the refrigerant will remain in the coils and continue to recirculate. However, certain circumstances can occur that cause the refrigerant to release from the coils.
Refrigerant leaks can occur for a number of reasons, such as excessive wear and tear or pinhole leaks. These are caused by naturally forming acids that eat away at the copper tubing; over time, holes and cracks can develop in the coils which can lead to a leak. When a leak occurs, your AC system is no longer able to cool as efficiently as it did originally. If your AC unit is older, you may find that the coils have corroded due to excessive exposure to contaminants over time. This may also happen if you fail to have your AC unit maintained on a regular basis, causing a thick coating of build-up on the coils.
Signs of a Refrigerant Leak
Refrigerant leaks often cause certain signs that indicate a faulty AC unit.,such as a loss of cooling power. Refrigerant plays a vital role in the cooling process and when it starts to leak, your AC is unable to effectively absorb heat from your home. If you have a refrigerant leak, you may notice that it takes longer to cool your building than it did previously, resulting in larger cooling bills.
Next, examine the registers in your commercial buildings. Are they blowing out cool air or is the air not as cool as it should be? This could point to a refrigerant leak. Another sign of a refrigerant leak is a hissing sound coming from your indoor unit. When holes or cracks develop in the coils, it can create an audible hissing sound. When larger cracks develop, the sound may be more of a gurgle. Frozen coils are a definitive sign that there is a refrigerant leak. When there are sufficient refrigerant levels, the coils are able to absorb heat which prevents them from freezing. However, without enough refrigerant the coils can freeze which can lead to a breakdown of your AC system.
Check Line Set Fittings and Valves
When trying to find a refrigerant leak, one of the first places you will want to look is at the line set fittings or valves. If a leak is found in this area, a reputable HVAC technician will usually be able to reconnect the fitting or tighten the value to stop the leak. Once the leak has been repaired, refrigerant can be added to the AC unit. If the leak is located in the evaporator coil, you will likely need to replace the coil. Check to see if the unit is still under warranty.
Check Evaporator Leaks Using Pressure to Pinpoint Leak
Sometimes a refrigerant leak can be more challenging to pinpoint. When previous methods are unable to target the leak, a HVAC technician may recommend checking the AC system using pressure. This involves disconnecting the line set from both units and welding the line set shut on both ends. Taps are then installed on each end of the line set and nitrogen is pumped into it to create pressure. This is done on both coils. After 24 to 48 hours, your HVAC technician will be able to determine if the amount of pressure inside the line set has dropped.
Call Air Conditioning Repair Experts
It can be frustrating to find out that you have a refrigerant leak in your air conditioner. The good news is that this type of problem can usually be repaired with help from a licensed HVAC professional. Refrigerant leaks can sometimes be dangerous; you will want to have it diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible. If you are not sure if there is a leak, a cooling expert can test the unit to see if one exists. For more information about how to find a refrigerant leak or for commercial cooling repair services, contact Cool Works Co.