What Everyone Needs To Know About HVAC Systems

Warning Signs That Your Central Air Conditioning Unit Is Leaking Refrigerant

by Amelia Martin

After discovering that your air conditioner is no longer adequately cooling your home, you may start to suspect that it is running low on refrigerant. However, since refrigerant usually does not suddenly run low, there may be a leak somewhere inside the system. Look for the following warning signs that your central A/C unit is leaking refrigerant.

Ice Builds On In and Around the Unit

One of the first things you may notice when refrigerant is leaking inside your air conditioner is the buildup of ice in and around the unit. While it may seem odd that ice would build up when the refrigerant is low, there is a reason behind it.

When the refrigerant level is running low, it runs unevenly through the lines and compressor. While some areas may not have any refrigerant at all, other parts will have a high concentration. In these areas, the air flowing through the unit will become extremely cold. These cold temperatures will then freeze any condensation, which forms ice inside the unit. As the ice inside the unit builds up, it will then make its way to the exterior vents. From there, the ice will form in the openings and down the outside of your air conditioning unit.

Hissing Noises Are Heard While The Compressor is On

Even if you do not see ice buildup on the exterior of your air conditioner, listen carefully to the compressor while it is running. If you hear a loud hissing sound coming from the unit, this is a sign that there is a refrigerant leak somewhere inside. If there is a hole in one of the lines or in the compressor itself, the pressure inside will force the refrigerant through the opening. As the refrigerant escapes, a noise is created. You may also hear a noise resembling the sound made by a boiling pot of water.

While either the hissing or bubbling noise is cause for concern, the latter should be checked out by an HVAC repair service as soon as possible because it means a large amount of the refrigerant is leaking out. If it escapes the confines of your A/C unit, the refrigerant could cause a serious health hazard if it comes into contact with you, your children, or even your pets.

If you see either of the above warning signs that your air conditioning's refrigerant is low, you need to have someone find where it is leaking before recharging it. Contact A/C repair services to make an appointment to have someone inspect the unit and make the necessary repairs. 

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