Are you hearing something that resembles air being let out of a tire, or maybe the last sip of soda being sucked out of a straw—but these sounds are coming from your air conditioning system? The most likely culprit for this noise is a refrigerant leak.
Refrigerant is a fluid that is supplied for the air conditioner upon manufacturing. Ideally, your air conditioner will have enough refrigerant from day one to last its entire lifecycle. Dishonest “professionals” may tell you that refrigerant needs to be recharged (refilled) on a routine basis, but this isn’t the case. The only reasons your refrigerant should ever need to be recharged is in the case that it wasn’t properly charged to begin with, or there is a leak.
The longer you wait to repair this leak, the bigger risk there is of serious AC damage happening, probably to the compressor component, which is essentially the heart of the air conditioner. But how do you know if you even have a refrigerant leak if you don’t hear that hissing? Read on!
Heed These Signs of a Refrigerant Leak
If your AC system is leaking refrigerant, then it will struggle to operate as it should. You may have a refrigerant leak if you notice any of the following symptoms. Do keep in mind that some of these are symptoms of other AC problems, so whatever the cause is, you should talk to an experienced HVAC professional right away:
- The air coming out of the vents isn’t as cool as you think it should be. Pay attention to whether it’s that the air isn’t cool enough or if it isn’t powerful enough—low power a.k.a low airflow can be the result of a clogged air filter that needs to be swapped out for a clean one, or even damaged ductwork.
- Your AC system is short-cycling. This is the name given to the process where your air conditioner turns on and off rapidly. If this happens right when you install your air conditioner, it unfortunately means that the system wasn’t properly sized and matched to your specific home and comfort needs. If, however, this is a new problem then a refrigerant leak can certainly be to blame.
- Your energy bills have increased for no apparent reason. Do a comparison against what you paid this time last year, and/or what your neighbors are paying for similar AC use. If your bills are much higher, it’s a sign that something is causing the system to operate inefficiently, and it can be due to refrigerant loss.
- You’ve discovered ice forming on the coil or refrigerant line itself. Do not try to remove this on your own, since you can end up doing more harm than good. Even though your air conditioner is made to chill the air, ice is never a normal part of the cooling process.
Refrigerant leaks are one of those things you don’t want to let go too long without repair, so be sure to give us a call as soon as you suspect or know you may have one.