Why Catching A Refrigerant Leak Early Is Important

sweating from broken a/cRefrigerant leaks might be one of the most common air conditioner issues around, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can ignore them. Why? Besides the potential to reduce or even cut off your cooling on a hot Los Angeles summer afternoon, a refrigerant leak can also harm your health.

Health and Environmental Damage

Let’s begin with this: air conditioner refrigerant is toxic. Breathing air contaminated with refrigerant gas can cause lung irritation, dizziness, elevated heart rate, and headache. Skin contact can cause permanent tissue damage.

Secondly, the environment also suffers when refrigerant leaks into the air or soil. The most damaging refrigerants are hydrofluorocarbons, such as R-22 (Freon), which are known to contribute to ozone layer depletion. The current alternative, R410A refrigerant, doesn’t damage the ozone layer, but has the potential to contribute to global warming. Neither one of these is good.

Air Conditioner Component Damage

Without enough refrigerant, your air conditioner’s indoor evaporator coil can’t absorb as much heat as it should. As a result, the system’s components become colder than normal and freeze over. You’ll see this in the refrigerant lines first, then the indoor evaporator coil, followed by the outdoor coil. A frozen coil places a strain on the compressor and can cause it to burn out. If this happens, you’ll need to either replace this expensive component or replace the whole air conditioner. A frozen coil is also among the most common air conditioner issues, but—again—it should never be ignored.

When the refrigerant is low, you’ll notice a steady drop in your system’s cooling capacity, so your home feels increasingly warm and humid even though you haven’t changed the thermostat temperature. A hissing noise near your outdoor unit is another sign. Leaks due to deteriorating refrigerant lines or incorrect installation will cause these signs to come on gradually. If your lines are cut by a copper thief, though, the changes will be fairly sudden.

If you suspect you have a leak, call us immediately to protect your system and your health. Happiness begins with being safe and comfortable and here at Reliance, we want you to be happy.