If your air conditioner is not cooling well, it is possible you have a freon leak. Due to the cost most people are hoping that the problem with their air conditioner is anything but a freon leak. Symptoms of a freon leak can vary, but a common symptom is when your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be keeping up the set temperature. Typically a freon leak happens slowly so if the air conditioner is slowly getting worse about keeping the desired temperature you may have a freon leak.
Every summer we get calls from customers who tell us that they think their air conditioner needs to be charged up. Your air conditioner is a closed system. Refrigerant doesn’t go bad, it doesn’t get stale, and doesn’t wear out. If we have to add refrigerant is because it has leaked out. That’s the only reason we would be putting refrigerant in.
What Are the Symptoms of a Freon Leak?
Symptoms of an air conditioner that is running short of refrigerant would be that it is short of capacity. It is operating at less than it’s full capacity. Ask yourself, “Is this how an air conditioner that was too small cool my house?” It’s going to be running all the time, and the air is not going to feel as cold as it should. The air conditioner will have a general lack of performance. So it may be working, but not working very well.
Why Is Freon Expensive?
The cost of freon has gone up exponentially due to government regulations and supply and demand for freon that is no longer being produced.
The rules laws of supply and demand have made refrigerant quite expensive and it’s a whole different type of repair than what it was 20 years ago.
Can A Freon Leak Stop Your Air Conditioner?
It actually can make the air conditioner stop. However, what usually happens is that refrigerant leaks slowly over time. When there is a slow leak, there’s still enough refrigerant in the system that it can refrigerate it can do some cooling. However, it will not be operating properly and it will cause the pressure to be too low for the coil inside. This causes the coil to “freeze” and eventually stop the air conditioner from working.
Where Do You Find A Freon Leak?
You could find a freon leak in many places on the heating and cooling system. There are access points to the refrigeration system that sometimes can leak, such as the service caps and Schrader valves, and solder joints can begin to leak over time. Vibration can cause these components to vibrate and rub against each other and cause leaks.
There are a number of different ways vibration can cause a leak but it usually starts out as something very slow. You find yourself asking, “is it really cooling as it should?” And you realize your air conditioner is not operating as good as you remember it was last year. However, a leak can also happen rather quickly. Sometimes something catastrophic can happen where something breaks or cracks after something has gotten brittle and moved over time.
Can You Smell Freon?
You can smell freon, it has a kind of oily smell. There is a lot of oil in the refrigerant, however, when you are working with residential units there is not enough refrigerant in your system where you could smell a leak from inside your home. Keep in mind, refrigerant is dangerous and you should never breathe it in. However, trying to detect a freon leak by trying to smell it will not be a successful way of finding a leak
Does Freon Leak Only When The Air Conditioner Is On?
If your air conditioner has a leak, it is leaking all the time. Your heating and air conditioning system is supposed to be a closed, sealed system. Refrigerant doesn’t wear out, doesn’t go bad and should never leak.
This means that one summer your air conditioner may be working, but perhaps you notice that it is not keeping up the desired temperature as well as it usually does. Then the first time you turn it on the next season, it might be totally out and cause the air conditioner to not work at all.
It sat there all winter leaking just a little bit. It’s leaking every day of the year all day every day. So if you had a problem in the past, it’s always wise to turn the air conditioner on early. Turn it on before it gets really hot outside. Flip it on and then find out if all the refrigerant has leaked out. Maybe do a preemptive check into things and make sure everything’s cool literally.
How Do You Find A Freon Leak?
If you have a freon leak, we can find it. We have the tools and experience to do that. However, it does take some time to find it. We check critical points first that are most likely to have a leak. There are common areas on the system that tend to have leaks and sometimes we know that particular brand or type of coil that might have a tendency to leak over time in a certain place or certain way.
Can You Spot a Freon Leak Visually?
You can sometimes spot a leak visually if it is a really big, catastrophic leak. You might have a wet coil and see a little bit of bubble or moisture. However, typically we need electronic Leak Detectors. These are very sophisticated electronic devices that are trained to detect refrigerants, and have helped us greatly in pinpointing where there is a problem.
Where Would You Expect A Leak To Be?
There are joints that are all field-engineered. Certain components to the air conditioning system are installed in the field. These are places we are most likely to find a freon leak. Once again, it goes back to the most important day in the life of the system is the day it was installed.
What To Do If You Think You Have A Freon Leak
What you need to know is if you have an air conditioner and it is not running as well as it should, give a professional a call and have it checked out. It is a false economy thinking it’s too expensive to have it looked. If you try to just put up with it, it is going to be running many, many more hours than it needs to.
That causes your utility bill to go up and you’re not comfortable. Plus, it’s still leaking. So let’s get it looked at and figure out the problem, because nobody likes a leaky air conditioner.
How Do You Prevent A Freon Leak?
Regular maintenance of your air conditioner is the best way to prevent a freon leak. During a maintenance inspection, we’re checking an air conditioner for components that move over time. There are components that are bendable or can move. We’re looking for components that are rubbing up against something that they shouldn’t be and could cause the problem. If the technician finds something that may be causing vibration, they will want to get some separation between those components because something could rub up against something and over time it will create a problem. Catching these types of possible problems are a big part of our maintenance tune up.