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Brown's Heating & Cooling Blog

How to Detect an AC Refrigerant Leak (And Why This Matters)


There’s a fairly common misconception about AC refrigerant that often leads homeowners to mistakenly put their climate control systems in harms way. What is that misconception? That refrigerant is a fuel.

Yup, many people think that refrigerant depletes from an air conditioner like gasoline does from a car. This is a dangerous misconception, unfortunately. That is, it’s dangerous for the air conditioner itself. The problem is, if your air conditioner is losing refrigerant, it means there is a leak. And if there’s a leak, a number of problems can occur, not excluding a complete air conditioner break down. So what should you do about it?

Call Us If You Notice These Symptoms

If you do in fact have a refrigerant leak, your air conditioner will struggle to function as best it can. This might be very apparent, but usually, signs are pretty subtle at first. Read on to learn some of the symptoms of a refrigerant leak, and give us a call if you notice any of them in your system.

  • The air from the vents isn’t as cool as it should be. Refrigerant is what actually allows for the cooling process to occur. Warm air from your home is drawn into the system, then it goes through the refrigerant process in order for your AC to return chilled air. So if you haven’t turned up the thermostat but notice the air coming through isn’t cool as it usually is, this is likely a sign of a refrigerant leak.
  • Your air conditioner is short-cycling. This is a name given to the process in which your air conditioner’s compressor rapidly turns on and off instead of going through regular cycles like it’s supposed to. What’s happening here is that it’s never actually completing a full cooling cycle, and therefore operating inefficiently and expensively. There are a number of reasons this might happen, and a refrigerant leak is just one of the possible culprits, so give us a call if you notice short-cycling!
  • Your energy bills spiked. Let’s face it, there’s going to be some months out of the year when your energy bills are drastically higher than they are during other parts of the year, due to your HVAC use. However, if you’re paying far more on your energy bills than you were this same time last year, or more than your neighbors are paying for similar HVAC use, then something is causing your system to work inefficiently, and it could be a refrigerant leak.

The above-mentioned symptoms are just a few possible signs of a refrigerant leak. If you hear a hissing or bubbling sound coming from your air conditioner, or see ice forming anywhere on your air conditioner, these are also indications of either a refrigerant leak or some other operational problem. No matter what, if you notice an issue it’s always best to give us a call sooner than later.

Don’t let the weather get you down, call Brown’s Heating and Cooling for expert AC repair in Manitou Springs, CO!

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