What Refrigerant Leak Can do to an Air Conditioner
Is your AC unit not cooling as efficiently as it generally does? This might be because of a refrigerant leak. It is one of the most common defects in Air Conditioners that requires immediate repair. Corrosion of copper tubes, manufacturing defects, and ordinary wear & tear are the leading causes of an air conditioner refrigerant leak.
The erosion of metal tubes due to the formation of acid causes small holes or cracks. The refrigerant that flows through these tubes starts to leak through the holes. It impairs the ability of the AC unit to function correctly. Usually, the AC produces a hissing noise when there is a leakage.
If left unrepaired, an air conditioner refrigerant leak may damage the unit ultimately. The following are the cause of refrigerant leakage.
Inability to cool:
The refrigerant flowing through the tubes is responsible for absorbing heat from the indoor air and expelling it to the outside air. When there is a leakage, the ability of the air conditioner to cool is impaired. If there is a severe leakage, the AC becomes unable to cool the air.
When the coils (tubes) of the cooling unit get corroded, holes and cracks appear on the surface. When the refrigerant flows through the tubes, it leaks via the cracks. This makes a weird hissing noise in the AC. The bigger the hole, the louder the hissing sound. When the tubes are severely damaged, gurgling noises are produced.
Increased electricity bills:
An air conditioner refrigerant leak impairs the cooling ability of the unit. When an air conditioner is switched on, it starts to absorb the heat from indoor air and release it outside. This process continues until the AC has maintained a desired temperature in the room.
During a leakage, an AC takes much longer to cool down a room than a standard cooling unit. This causes the unit to work harder for a longer duration than usual. Hence the increased electricity bills.
Inability to blow cold air:
When the air conditioner is low on the refrigerant level, it blows out rather warm air. This happens due to a lack of cooling. Leakage causes the refrigerant level to go down, and therefore, the AC is unable to blow cold air.
Water leakage from the AC unit:
When the refrigerant level drops, the inability to absorb the heat results in the condensation on the coils. This situation is commonly termed as a frozen evaporator coil. The condensation causes the coils to freeze, which results in the formation of ice on the surface of the tubes.
It is not noticeable unless the AC is turned off. The ice starts to melt off the evaporator coils. The melted ice leaks out of the AC unit in the form of water. It might lead to a complete breakdown of the cooling unit if left unrepaired.
Refrigerant, known as Freon, is a chemical that's harmful to humans and the environment. It affects the lungs and respiratory system. Freon is odorless and colorless, therefore, it is not possible to detect when there is a Freon leak in the room. The refrigerant gets suspended in the air and makes it toxic.
Continuous exposure to freon caused toxic air may cause breathing difficulties, nausea, headaches, itchy eyes, and skin infections. If left untreated for longer durations, it may cause seizures and loss of consciousness.
An air conditioner refrigerant leak requires an immediate fix to prevent further damage to the cooling unit and the environment.