*Before we begin, it’s important to note that many people use the words ‘Freon’ and ‘refrigerant’ interchangeably. While Freon is a type of refrigerant, it is technically a registered trademark of The Chemours Company, which uses it for various halocarbon products. Freon is actually being phased out due to its adverse effects on the environment.
Refrigerants are a key component of air conditioning. Without refrigerant, your air conditioning system can’t produce the cool air that we Floridians so desperately rely on year round.
When there is a refrigerant leak within your air conditioning system, you will likely notice your home isn’t cooling down as it should. You may also notice an increase in your energy costs.
Not only can a refrigerant leak make your home less comfortable and your energy costs higher, but exposure to refrigerant can be dangerous. If a suspected refrigerant leak has brought you here, keep reading to learn the signs of a refrigerant leak, the dangers, and what you should do next.
What Causes a Refrigerant Leak?
When it comes to air conditioning, one of the biggest misconceptions is that your system uses a little bit of refrigerant each time it cycles, causing it to slowly leak out over time.
In reality, refrigerant is constantly “charging” itself, so there is no reason for the refrigerant levels in your system to be low. If the levels are low, it’s likely due to an underlying reason, such as:
- Improper installation of your air conditioning system
- Corrosion of the metal within your air conditioning system
- Factory defects of components within your air conditioning system
Common Signs Your Air Conditioner is Leaking Refrigerant
If you think your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, look for the following signs:
1. Your home is warmer – and it’s noticeable
As a Florida homeowner, it doesn’t take long for you to realize your home is warmer than usual. If you are noticing your home feels warmer, more humid, or less comfortable in general, it’s possible your air conditioning system is leaking refrigerant, rendering it unable to remove the warm air.
2. Your air conditioner is blowing lukewarm air
Place your hand under one of the air vents. Is the air coming out cold or lukewarm? If it’s the latter, a potential reason is that your system is leaking refrigerant.
3. Your air conditioner is frozen
No one expects to see ice on their air conditioner in Florida, but it can happen when the system is low on refrigerant.
When your system is working properly, the evaporator coils absorb heat. When your system isn’t working properly, the evaporator coils don’t absorb heat. While this can occur for a variety of reasons, low levels of refrigerant is one of them.
4. Your energy costs have risen
When your air conditioning system is leaking refrigerant, the system will work harder to try to cool your home. As a result, you may notice your energy costs are higher than normal.
5. Your air conditioner is making a hissing sound
Sometimes, you can actually hear if your system is leaking refrigerant. If there is a crack or a hole in an evaporator coil, the built-up pressure will try to escape wherever it can – resulting in an unusual noise.
A Refrigerant Leak In Your Home Can Be Harmful
A refrigerant leak isn’t only bad news for your air conditioning system. Exposure to refrigerant is dangerous and can lead to refrigerant poisoning if the leak is significant.
Common Symptoms of Refrigerant Exposure
Exposure to refrigerant can cause symptoms including:
- Coughing and throat irritation
- Eye irritation
Prolonged exposure or exposure within a confined space can cause more serious symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of consciousness
If you or someone you know may have been exposed to refrigerant, get fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
What to Do If You Have a Refrigerant Leak
A suspected refrigerant leak should be addressed by a professional HVAC technician right away. Always remember that refrigerant should never have to be “topped off.” If an HVAC contractor simply wants to top off your refrigerant, they are likely cutting corners.
The type of repair your air conditioning system needs will depend on a variety of factors. Sometimes a simple repair is all that’s needed, other times it may be a wiser option to upgrade your system. In any case, a reliable HVAC technician can help.
Refrigerant Leak Repair and AC Services In South Florida
It can be tough to tell whether or not your AC has a Freon leak – but at Sansone, we put your family’s safety above anything else. Instead of second-guessing, give us a call to ensure your system is safely operating. Our trusted team will quickly and efficiently diagnose any potential refrigerant leaks in your system and help you determine the right repair.Schedule Service