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What to Do if Your Air Conditioning System Is Leaking Refrigerant

air-conditioner-units-near-grassRefrigerant loss is one of the major problems an air conditioning system may encounter during its service life. And it’s not only a problem that occurs in aging, over-the-hill ACs. An air conditioning system that’s been in service for around 5 to 6 years can develop corrosion along its refrigerant lines because of exposure to formaldehyde in the air. It’s wise to always watch for indications that your AC, no matter how old it is, may be losing refrigerant to leaks:

  • A decline in cooling capacity
  • Hissing sounds from the cabinets
  • Ice developing along the indoor evaporator coil
  • Short-cycling (i.e. the compressor turns on and off repeatedly over a short time)
  • Hard starting
  • Liquid dripping from the indoor cabinet

These symptoms can point to other problems, but no matter the cause, they need professionals to look into them to see what air conditioning repairs will remedy the problem.

Taking Action with an Air Conditioner Leaking Refrigerant

The first thing you should know with an AC leaking refrigerant is what not to do: Do not purchase refrigerant and attempt to add more to the system. This is a major DIY error. Refrigerant in an air conditioning system must be at a specific amount, known as the charge. If the wrong amount is put in, it will put the compressor in danger of a breakdown. For ideal efficiency and an avoidance of further repair issues, the refrigerant charge must exactly match the manufacturer’s specifications, and it must be the right chemical blend.

If the sign that alerted you to the problem was an iced-over coil or short-cycling, we recommend you make a check on the air filter first. If it’s clogged, put in a new one—this might be the trouble, rather than leaking refrigerant. You’ll still need to have professionals defrost the coil. If the short-cycling persists, have repairs done right away.

Any repairs to an air conditioning system that involve refrigerant must be handled by licensed HVAC technicians. It’s not only an issue of seeing that the job is done correctly and the right amount of refrigerant is put back into the AC (overcharging an air conditioning system is a as bad as undercharging it), it’s also about proper EPA certification to handle and dispose of refrigerant. Our HVAC technicians are the people to call for this job or any other air conditioning repair in Fresno, CA.

Older R-22 Air Conditioning Systems

If you have an air conditioner that runs on R-22 (which means it was installed earlier than 2010, when all manufacturing of air conditioning systems using R-22 was halted), it’s probably best to have the system replaced rather than repaired. R-22 is in the final stages of a complete phaseout, and this refrigerant blend is becoming more expensive all the time—and soon it won’t be available at all! It’s better to have a new system installed that uses R-410A refrigerant: you’ll have a long future with the new unit and no problem dealing with any refrigerant leaks that may occur.

Purl’s Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning: Quality Is the Cornerstone of Our Success Since 1952.

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