Causes Of Refrigerant Leak On Your Air Conditioner Unit


Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks For Dallas Homeowners

How do air conditioners cool down a house? The process can be described succinctly this way: Refrigerant moves between two sets of coils in the system, one indoors and one outdoors. Along the indoor coil, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoors, cooling the air.

This video is about searching for a refrigerant or freon leak in your home air conditioning system.


Refrigerant Leaks and What Causes Them

Refrigerant leaks are the number one mechanical problem in the air conditioning industry and one of the most frustrating. Every year people call in for service on their air conditioner and the diagnosis is usually a refrigerant loss. As the price of refrigerants continues to rise, the cost of the service call goes up. The tendency of some folks is to just simply recharge the system with refrigerant and hope it lasts the season. This is faulty thinking. If the leak is not repaired the refrigerant will leak out again and require further service. If this continues for several recharges, the oil in the compressor will deplete enough to damage the compressor and require a major and expensive repair. Aside from being costly, a leaking system adds refrigerant to the atmosphere and isn’t particularly good for the environment.

It is extremely important that the coolant or Refrigerant level of an air conditioning system be checked often. A 10% loss of Refrigerant or coolant will cost the home or business owner 20 percent more in electrical costs and can cause undue wear and tear on your unit. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America or ACCA recommend checking once a year to maintain the proper Refrigerant levels. If your Refrigerant levels are low either the proper charge was never added to your system or there is a leak which should be repaired.

So we know that thinner tubing develops leaks sooner, but what is causing the freon leak in the first place? The leaky a/c coils that the Trane engineers studied had microscopic pin holes seemingly drilled throughout the coil tubing. Trane’s in-home studies revealed that the culprit was formic acid. Formic acid was corroding the copper and drilling these tiny pin holes. The acid penetrates the thinner, high-efficiency tubing faster and is making some air conditioner brands look very bad. But where is the formic acid coming from? Isn’t that what gives fire ants their sting? What is formic acid doing in our homes and on our air conditioner coils?

What Causes Refrigerant Leaks?

Refrigerant leaks can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Vibration can cause a leak over time.
  • There are many joints or connections in a typical air conditioner or heat pump that can weaken over time and cause a problem.

Additionally, copper is subject to formicary corrosion caused by pollutants in the air such as hair spray, cleaners, air fresheners and “off gassing” by building materials and furnishings. This type of corrosion attacks the copper tube walls of the indoor coil and causes leakage usually in more than one location. This type of leak can be repaired but it is many times wiser and less costly to replace the entire coil for the best reliability. Age is also a factor in susceptibility to leakage, and as the refrigerant circulates under high pressure, there is wear on the inside of the tubing which over time will cause a thinning of the tube walls thereby compounding the possibility of leaking by the previously mentioned causes.

Purpose Of Air Conditioner Refrigerant

Refrigerant can shift easily between liquid and gas states, which makes it ideal for ACs since it doesn’t take significant amounts of energy to cause the phase shift. Refrigerant starts inside the compressor, where the reduction of volume turns it into a high-pressure gas about 150°F. It moves to the outdoor condenser coil, where the warm air (which is still cooler than the refrigerant) moves across it and causes condensation, which releases heat from the refrigerant. Call (214) 238-8353 us for your home service and repair needs.

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