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AW Heating & Cooling Blog

Is a Refrigerant Leak Really a Big Deal?


Air conditioners are filled with refrigerant that is critical for cooling. Generally, the refrigerant is packed inside a completely sealed unit that should last many years without problems.

However, the refrigerant may leak over time, which necessitates refilling. Refrigerant may also leak if the container is not sealed tight or if there is even the tiniest of holes in the unit. 

A refrigerant leak can make your AC less efficient and damage components over time. Leakage can also be hazardous to your health and the environment.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the problems caused by AC refrigerant leaks for homeowners looking to enjoy good air conditioning in Perrysburg, OH.

Compressor Damage

If the refrigerant level in your AC goes down, it can put more stress on your compressor. The change in refrigerant pressure causes the compressor to work harder to produce the same level of cooling that you need.

Over time, this can cause the compressor to overheat, burn out and fail. Compressors are quite expensive to replace. In many cases, a replacement is not possible and the whole unit needs to be changed. 

This is obviously much more expensive compared to getting the leakage fixed and refrigerant refilled.

Inefficient Cooling

The refrigerant moves through the coils to absorb heat from inside your home and release it outside. If you have a leak, your refrigerant will fall below its ideal level and will not be as efficient at cooling as it should be.

Other components will need to work harder to cool your home. In most cases, it will take longer to reach the same level of air conditioning that you can get when the refrigerant is full. In some cases, your home may never reach the desired level of cooling.

Ice on the Coils

The refrigerant circulates through your evaporator coils, absorbing heat to cool the air. However, if the refrigerant level goes down due to leakage, the coils will not be able to pull enough heat from their surrounding area.

Moisture along the coils will form ice crystals at first, and they will eventually freeze up. This frost will continue to grow until it completely blocks the heat exchange between the refrigerant and air. The layer of ice can also damage the coils.

Higher Energy Consumption

As we noted above, a low level of refrigerant will make your AC components work harder to compensate for the missing refrigerant. This will make your entire system power-hungry. 

As different parts run longer to generate the required air conditioning, they will draw more electricity. You will see an increase in your energy bills because the system is working harder to reach the thermostat setting.

Misconception about Refrigerant

Many people think that refrigerant is a type of AC fuel that gets consumed over time. That is not true.

The AC refrigerant is an endothermic gas that is used to absorb heat and create a cooling effect. It does not get ‘consumed’ over time. In some cases, the refrigerant can last ten years, or the lifetime of the AC.

However, it may leak out sooner for many air conditioners. You should aim to get it checked annually and have the refrigerant refilled if it has fallen below the recommended level. 

For professional, comprehensive air conditioner services, contact “Your Comfort Specialists” at AW Heating & Cooling today!

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