Did you know that the gas leakage from your air conditioner can cause irreversible damage to your unit’s compressor? Apart from causing a spike in the overall electricity consumption, the refrigerant leaking from an aircon can pose a substantial threat to human health.
You may be clueless as to why the gas leakage is happening. Do not worry! In this article, we will analyze the causes of aircon gas leaks and how to check for them.
Let us get started with the causes first, and make sure you do not ignore these signs.
What Causes Air Con Gas Leakage?
Several different factors can trigger aircon gas leakage. Below are some of the primary and significant causes:
1. Wear and Tear
To begin with, a wear and tear issue of your cooling system can be one of the significant causes of gas leaks. The wear and tear usually happen over the extensive usage of your AC unit. The service valves can wear over time and may start leaking. Also, there is a possibility of leakage at some of the assembly joints due to rust.
Initially, it is practically not possible to locate these leakages. This is because they do not show up in the initial days, but later they turn out to be a nightmare to the users.
In some cases, however, you can fix these leaks hassle-free with the assistance of a professional who replaces the parts with a new one. In other critical cases, your system may need extensive repairs like removing the rusted parts.
2. Pinhole Leak
A pinhole leak is one of the most common types of leaks that plagues air conditioners. This is a condition, which mostly occurs due to the corrosion along with the copper coils of the condenser leading to tiny holes or pin-sized leaks.
The corrosion mainly happens because of the presence of formic acid along with the copper coils. When formaldehyde deposits on the coils, it forms Formic acid, which eventually creates the so-called pinhole leaks.
A pinhole leak can turn out to be a very expensive repair. Hence, you should repair the leaks at the earliest after you noticed them.
A new copper tube or line is equally susceptible as an old one. This is why most manufacturers are showing interest in preferring aluminum over copper coils as a replacement because it is corrosion-resistant.
3. Damage to Refrigerant Lines
The copper refrigerant lines are responsible for circulating the refrigerant to and from the condenser and the evaporator. Any damage or defect in these pipes can cause the aircon to leak gas. By this, one should know that how susceptible the refrigerant lines are. Especially those that are running through the outside walls.
4. Weak Joints and Connection Issues
Some of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) instructors opined that half of the leaks found in refrigerant pipes are due to defective solders and flare fittings. Hence, it is crucial to solder these joints or connections perfectly during system installation or repair.
5. Improper Installation of the AC System
An improper installation of your air conditioning unit can result in a refrigerant leak. This may be because of the incorrect fitting of some parts and components that allows coolant to escape.
6. Factory Defects
Your air conditioning unit might be a brand new one, but still, you can notice leaks. This can be because it was defective even when it was in the factory but was not detectable. While this scenario is very uncommon, there are still chances for this to happen. When anything as such, consult an expert air conditioning repair technician from the manufacturing company.
Other parameters like improper handling of the unit, poor assembly, damaged parts or components can also cause a defect in the unit.
7. Defect in Schrader Valve
Another common trigger for aircon gas leakage is the defective Schrader valve. Sometimes, a damage to the seal covering of the valve leads to coolant gas leakage.
8. Leaks Around Control Valves
If you notice coolant leakage around the control valves, leaky links are the main reason behind this. You can avoid this problem from occurring, by ensuring the proper attachment of the valve, and thorough cleaning of the same.
How to Check If Your Aircon Is Leaking Gas?
Knowing the signs that your aircon is leaking coolant is essential to keep your home and your loved ones comfortable and safe. Read on to learn how you can detect if your AC is leaking refrigerant and what you should do about it.
1. Loss Of Cooling Power
We all know that a refrigerant plays a crucial role in the cooling process. It works by absorbing the heat from your room and releases it outside. If the coolant levels deplete, it will take a longer time than usual to cool your home.
2. Registers Not Blowing Cool Air
Yet another critical part of your quick analysis for detecting gas leakage is to check for the airflow from your vents. If the air coming out of the vents is not as cold as it should be, it implies that your HVAC system has a refrigerant leak.
3. Frozen Coils
As mentioned earlier, the refrigerant circulates through the evaporator and condenser coils. During the process, if there is any insufficiency in the refrigerant levels, the coils cannot absorb the heat. This results in frozen condensation coils, which may sometimes melt and drip.
While the frost formation on the evaporator coils might not seem necessarily surprising and alarming to many homeowners, it is very likely to cause a system breakdown. The ice development will continue to increase and will lead to expensive repairs if you ignore the underlying problem and do not tackle it on time.
As long as the ice is present, your system will suffer a reduction in cooling efficiency.
4. Elevated Electricity Bills
When your air conditioner runs short of refrigerant or has a gas leakage, it will not allow your system to remove heat efficiently. This means your AC will take longer to cool your room, consuming more electricity than needed.
If you notice an unusual spike in the electricity bills despite limited usage, it is time to inspect your system.
5. Check for the Smell of the Gas
The easy way to detect gas leakage is to check for the odour of the refrigerant. Whenever there is a leak, you can observe a pungent smell from it. However, it is very unfortunate that the leaks do not always occur inside the room, and hence it may become a little difficult to trace the issue when happening outside. Besides that, the fresh air outside may choke the smell, making it almost undetectable. Hence, the best way you can face this challenge is by seeking the help of a professional who will diagnose the problem after a thorough check.
6. Listen for any Humming Noise
Whenever there is a gas leak, you can notice a hissing sound coming from the internal valve of your aircon unit. It is almost impossible to hear such a gurgling sound inside the room because of the background noise.
To recognize the sound of leaks, try listening carefully if you can hear any sound coming from the valve. If you listen to noises like hissing, whistling, or screaming coming from the compressor, it means the gas is escaping. Shut down the air conditioner immediately and call an expert technician to come and fix it.
How Do Gas Leaks in an Aircon Pose Danger to Environment and Humans?
We already discussed earlier that aircon gas leakage aircon poses a health risk to the environment, especially those get exposed to it. Let us see how the gas leaks pose a health risk and danger to the occupants:
It is harmful to human Health
Gas leaks from aircon can be harmful to health. Here are some symptoms that you can experience after getting exposed to the leaked refrigerant. While headache and nausea are common problems, short-term exposure to the chemical substance can lead to problems like convulsions, dizziness, skin rashes (for those with sensitive skin), reduced coordination, and increased heart rate.
Prolonged exposure may lead to serious medical conditions like shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, loss of consciousness, and sometimes even death. If you notice any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
Damage to your Air Conditioning System
As discussed earlier, aircon leaks contribute to a higher electricity bill. Several studies state that an air conditioner with a refrigerant leak consumes 20% electricity more than the usual.
Moreover, using an AC system continually even after detecting a leak can worsen the unit condition. It makes the compressor to come under tremendous pressure, ultimately causing it to break down. Additionally, it can be a costly affair when it comes to a compressor replacement. This is usually much expensive than the repair cost. Hence, it is always wise to fix the problem immediately than incurring heavy expenses for the aftermath.
It is Dangerous to Various Forms of Life
The refrigerant leaking from an air conditioning unit is hazardous to the environment. We all are aware that refrigerants used in most air conditioners are the chlorofluorocarbons. These CFCs, when leaked or improperly disposed of in the atmosphere, cause depletion of the ozone layer.
Not only that, they can get easily absorbed by the Earth, penetrating the soil. Upon penetration, it passes into various underground water resources, impacting the health of humans, animals, plants directly or indirectly. This is no exaggeration to say that a coolant leaking from the aircon poses a serious threat to all forms of life on Earth.
So, do you Fix a Refrigerant Leaking AC or go for a New AC?
Now that you finished reading the entire article, what is it that you must do now? Should you fix the refrigerant leakage or go for a new AC altogether? Let me tell you that it is crucial to ascertain the underlying cause for your AC not cooling. There can be other reasons like clogged filters, dirty condenser coils, defective compressor, etc. It necessarily need not be an insufficient coolant or a gas leak.
Check thoroughly for the signs as mentioned above before concluding. Only after you diagnose the gas leakage problem, we recommend you take the necessary action. Try fixing it as soon as possible to improve the performance of your air conditioner, and keep it functioning like before.
Before things get way too complicated, resulting in system damage, schedule a service from the professional AC repair service provider. Also, we recommend you have the maintenance and service routine to avoid this issue.
Make sure you always call a reliable HVAC service, wherein the professional will come to investigate the case and further provide you with all the details.
If in case, you find out that the refrigerant leak caused severe damage, then it up to you to take a call. You can make an informed decision if you want to incur the expensive repair cost or simply want to invest in a new AC system.
To conclude, a refrigerant is a significant part of the air conditioning system. In this article, we discussed that a leaking aircon is a too serious problem to ignore. We also learned about the various ways to check if your AC unit is indeed leaking gas.
If you are experiencing or suspect any leakage issues, we recommend calling an expert immediately to repair this issue.
Write to us in the comments section below if you ever experienced a gas leak from your air conditioner and how you fixed it. You can also let us know if you want to add more information to this article or have any questions.