Is Your Air Conditioner Leaking Refrigerant?

The Freon (refrigerant) in your AC system plays a pivotal role in keeping your indoor air cool and comfortable. Unfortunately, depending on the age and condition of your home air conditioner, your home air conditioner may experience a Freon leak at some point and can result in your home feeling hot and humid.

Here are some early symptoms of low Freon in your central air conditioner you can detect before the problem gets out of hand.

What Is Refrigerant and How Does It Work?

Refrigerant is a general term that refers to a chemical blend inside an electro-mechanical air conditioner that can shift easily between liquid and gaseous states. Refrigerant is a fluid or compound that has a very low boiling point and can easily transform from liquid into gas and back to liquid again. As refrigerant transmutes from liquid to gas and back, it absorbs and releases heat. This is how it is capable of cooling down a home. The compressor changes liquid refrigerant into a high-pressure, high-temperature gas. The refrigerant moves to the outside coil of the air conditioner and releases its heat there through condensation, cooling down. By the time it reaches the indoor coil, it has cooled down to the point that it causes evaporation when it meets the warmer indoor air. This siphons heat from the air, cooling it down. The refrigerant, once again a liquid, returns to the compressor to restart the cycle.

The earliest refrigerants were toxic or combustible, which made air conditioning impractical outside of industrial buildings. But the invention of the first non-toxic refrigerant blend, known by the trademarked name Freon, allowed air conditioners to enter home use. The current standard refrigerant blend for residential air conditioners is R-410A, sometimes called Puron, which produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the previous blend, R-22.

The important thing to know about replacing refrigerant is it’s not a job for do-it-yourselfers. Refrigerant is encased in a closed system and should be checked often (we recommend twice a year.) Detecting leaks and replacing refrigerant is best left to professionals.


Signs Your AC Is Leaking Freon

If your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, it should be something you notice as soon as possible. That’s because refrigerant, unlike gasoline in a car or batteries in your remote, should not be consumed by your air conditioner. If you recognize any of the following points, it’s probably because your AC is leaking refrigerant.

  1. Loss of Cooling Power

One of the main responsibilities of refrigerant is absorbing heat that is inside your home and then transporting it outside. It can’t do this effectively, though, if the refrigerant is low. If you notice your house just isn’t staying cool, you may have a Freon leak.

No matter your thermostat setting, it may remain hot in your home. That’s because the refrigerant keeps seeping through some crack or hole in a refrigerant component. Or, it may take a long time for your home to cool down. This is also indicative of decreased cooling power, which points to a refrigerant component being compromised in some way.

  1. Hissing Sounds

When refrigerant leaks out of tiny holes in your system’s refrigerant lines, it tends to produce a hissing sound. An air conditioner that is low on refrigerant will often make a jingly sound during its cooling cycle.

  1. Coils Are Frozen

A tell-tale sign of a refrigerant leak is ice build-up on the copper lines or evaporator coils. When your system lacks the necessary refrigerant to cool your home, the copper lines or evaporator coils can absorb as much heat. As a result, condensation builds up and causes the lines or coils to freeze.

  1. Elevated Electric Bills

If an AC refrigerant leak is negatively impacting your comfort level and causing you to dial down the thermostat in the hope of getting cooler air, you will be using more electricity. Review your utility bill for inconsistent usage levels especially when compared to the same timeframe last year.


Give Us a Call

Refrigerant exposure can be dangerous, so if you believe your AC is leaking Freon, contact the professionals at Aire-Tech right away. Your satisfaction is only second to the safety of your family, which is why we provide 24/7 emergency AC services in cases where refrigerant leaks are suspected. If you have concerns about refrigerant or other AC-related questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or through our website.


If your system needs repair or inspection, call Aire-Tech on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.