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Leaking Refrigerant: A Major Air Conditioning Problem

Residential Air Conditioner-Condensing-Unit-Fan

Refrigerant is the life-blood of an air conditioning system. In fact, the role refrigerant plays in an AC is similar to the role of blood in the human body: it circulates from a pump and allows the AC to transfer heat from one place to another. Cold refrigerant in the evaporator coil absorbs heat to lower the indoor air temperature, and hot refrigerant in the condenser coil releases heat to the outside. This process is called heat exchange, and the chemical refrigerant is designed to make this as efficient as possible.

As you may imagine, refrigerant leaking from an air conditioner is a problem, and not just because it will make it harder for the AC to remove heat from the house to the outside. A loss of refrigerant will eventually cause catastrophic damage to the air conditioner and lead to a burnt-out compressor.

Do I Need to Occasionally Fill Up the AC with Refrigerant?

This is a common misunderstanding people have about refrigerant. Refrigerant is not the fuel that an air conditioner runs from; it’s not like gasoline in a car. An air conditioner runs on electricity. Refrigerant is a heat transfer fluid that doesn’t get consumed as the AC runs. It shifts between gaseous and liquid state as it evaporates and condenses, but it never dissipates during the process. The set charge of refrigerant an air conditioner starts with should be the same amount it uses for its entire lifespan…

Unless it starts to leak.

How Leaks Fffect an Air Conditioner

Leaks can start for a number of reasons, but are usually due to corrosion along the refrigerant lines, either from age or chemical exposure. It only takes a tiny hole to allow the high-pressure refrigerant gas to begin to escape, but you may not notice the effects at first.

Because an air conditioner is designed for specific refrigerant charge and pressure, the system will start to malfunction when it loses the charge due to leaks. One of the effects of this is ice appearing on the evaporator coil—yes, that sounds strange, but the lower amount of refrigerant in the evaporator coil won’t be able to absorb enough heat to warm up, and as a result, the coil will stay too cold and cause moisture to freeze along it. The AC’s cooling power will start to drop. Worse, the lower refrigerant will put the compressor in danger of overheating and burning out. A burnt-out compressor usually requires replacing the entire condenser unit or the entire air conditioner.

Call for Professionals to Fix Your Leaky AC

If you notice ice on the evaporator coil, hear a hissing sound (escaping refrigerant), or notice a rise in warmth and humidity in your home when the AC is running, call our technicians. It takes professionals to find the leaks, seal them, and then recharge the lost refrigerant without accidentally overcharging it.

Our NATE-certified technicians are available at your convenience, not ours, whenever you need air conditioning repair in Slidell, LA. If you need us after hours or on holidays feel free to call.

Gowland’s Heating & A/C values “Relationship over Revenue!” Call today for air conditioning service in New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

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