Types of AC Leaks and How to Repair Them

Nobody is happy when they see that their air conditioning system is leaking and, if that’s happening to you, it could be a water leak, or it could be a refrigerant one. We’ll first go over what might be happening with a water leak and then offer info about a leak of your refrigerant.

Also note that many air conditioning systems built over the past 15 years or so don’t actually use Freon; that’s a commercial name for the refrigerant that older systems use. Today, newer models use another kind of refrigerant, although, in general conversation, people often still refer to this substance as Freon.

Now, on to information about water leaks and Freon/refrigerant ones.

AC LEAK: WATER

Cold refrigerant runs through an evaporator coil of your system, pulling along warm indoor air over the top of the coil. So, moisture in the air condenses and then drips off the coil and into a pan. When you’re running a central air conditioning system, there is plenty of this condensation, so water is consistently dripping into the pan. The system then directs this water outside.

Sometimes, though, you might notice that water is dripping from the system into your house. This could be a problem with a plugged drain line. Or, if you have a system that uses a condensate pump (not all of them do), then there could be a problem with the pump, causing the water to back up. Or, there might be a problem with the pan itself. Depending upon your skill at air conditioning repairs, you might be able to make some of these fixes yourself, although it’s often best to have an experienced technician diagnose and address the problem. 

AC LEAK: FREON

Here, it’s important to note that your air conditioning system is designed as a closed system, which means that you don’t just top it off with more Freon if the system doesn’t seem to be cooling the house as it should. This is a different concept than when you need to fill up your car with gasoline because you’ve used it up by driving, and different from when you top off your car’s oil between your regular oil changes. 

That’s because, when an air conditioning system is working as it should, the system reuses the refrigerant—so problems with your system, such as warm air blowing instead of cool, funny noises and smells, and so forth are probably because of a leak.

Caution before we move on: One of the more typical scams in the HVAC world occurs when companies call people and offer to top off their refrigerant. That’s just not how it works. If you’re getting your HVAC system maintained every six months, then topping off Freon is not a service you need. Either you already have enough or, if there’s a problem, you need to have your system checked for leaks.

Plus, the amount of the refrigerant that should be in your air conditioning is a very specific amount and must precisely match what your manufacturer specifications say it should be. More does not equal better. It probably means “worse.”

First, we’ll take a look at the process involved in finding these kinds of leaks.

REFRIGERANT LEAK TYPES

Accurately finding Freon leaks can sometimes be challenging, in part because there are several types of them. There is something called a standing leak (SL), and they are the most common. You can detect an SL when the air conditioning unit is off. 

Then there are pressure dependent leaks (PDLs), which are discovered as pressure builds up in the cooling system. Temperature dependent leaks (TDL) happen when there’s a condenser blockage, for example, or during the defrosting period or in high ambient air. These take place with expansive heat.

There’s another type, vibration dependent leaks (VDLs), that only happen when your unit is operating. For VDLs, the mechanics must be in motion for the refrigerant to leak. If, over time, the refrigerant piping rubs against other components of the system, you may end up with a vibrational dependent leak.

If there are two or more factors contributing to the leakage, then you have a combination dependent leak (CDL) on your hands. 

Finally, there are tiny leaks, known as cumulative micro-leaks (CMLs) that can form over years of operations and repairs.

Refrigerant Leak Locations

Common places for a refrigerant leak to occur in a home air conditioning system include:

  • Evaporator coil
  • Condensing coil
  • Suction line dryer
  • Accumulator

These are usually standing leaks and typically can’t be repaired. Instead, parts will likely need replaced. 

CONSIDERING COPPER

The indoor coil of your air conditioning system is a copper tube; and, over time, copper can deteriorate through a process called formicary corrosion. This can happen because of pollutants in the air, which can include things like cleaning products, air fresheners, hair spray, and more. As the copper tubing is corroded, leaks can form. It may be possible to repair these leaks, but it’s usually best to have the coil replaced. Otherwise, you may be dealing with the same situation again, sooner rather than later. 

Plus, as time goes by, the copper can wear down as the refrigerant is continually circulated through pressure. The walls of the copper tubing can thin and ultimately lead to a hole and a refrigerant leak. 

Hopefully that provides information for anyone who is searching on this term or something similar: how to find Freon leak in AC unit. If, though, you’re interested in how to repair Freon leak in air conditioner or AC unit  then read on.

REPAIRING FREON LEAKS

In general, if there is a refrigerant leak, then this is a job best left to a trained professional. This may be especially true if your leak is in your condensing or evaporator coils, or in a valve or access port. Yes, there are patching/sealing products available, but they can lead to blockages that simply make your problem worse.

Signs of a Freon leak often include:

  • Your home doesn’t cool as well, and you may find yourself turning down the thermostat more than once, trying to get the air cool enough. Your AC system might even be blowing warm arm.
  • Your energy bills are going up for reasons you can’t explain. Especially watch for spikes in your bill.
  • The system is making funny noises, maybe hissing, perhaps gurgling.
  • There is a funky smell.
  • Outside, there is ice on your evaporator coil. Or maybe there are puddles beneath it.

With refrigerant leaks, it doesn’t take much for a small problem to evolve into a bigger one, so it makes sense to call in the HVAC pros when you suspect you have this issue.

One Hour Air Conditioning Repairs in Charlotte

If you live in the greater Charlotte area, we invite you to contact our expert team for fast air conditioning repair services. You can either contact us online call (704) 703-4220. This includes refrigerant leaks that are costing you more money in energy bills—while also not keeping your home cool and comfortable.

We also invite you to choose our expert team to provide regular maintenance on your HVAC system. As part of the air conditioning check in spring/early summer, we’ll make sure you don’t have any Freon leaks, and also check the rest of your system to make sure you’re getting the most you can out of your HVAC system. This includes:

  • Cleaning the condenser to ensure consistent operation
  • Checking the evaporator coil for proper function
  • Checking refrigerant line condition
  • Checking all capacitors for proper function
  • Checking all relays for proper function
  • Checking refrigerant/Freon levels
  • Lubricating motors
  • Checking amperage draw
  • Calibrating the thermostat
  • Checking and tightening electrical connections
  • Checking for proper air flow

Charlotte HVAC Replacement: Special Offer

You may have an older air conditioning system that uses R22 Freon. If so, as of January 1, 2020, this substance will not be manufactured in the United States. It won’t be able to be imported here, either. 


So, if this is your situation—or if your current system needs frequent repairs or isn’t as energy efficient as it could be—then you may be interested in our special offer. We’re offering customers in the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area a 16-SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) HVAC system for the price of a 20-SEER system. Plus, we offer attractive financing options that make it easy to budget your energy-efficient HVAC system.

If that sounds interesting, you can either contact us online or call (704) 703-4220. With new energy-efficient models, EnergyStar.gov share that you may be able to save up to 20 percent on cooling costs.