Air Conditioner Refrigerant Importance and Leak Signs

When it comes to the actual material that powers your air conditioner’s ability to cool your home, a substance called refrigerant leads the conversation. And while there are several potential causes of AC issues, one that perhaps does not receive the attention it should is a refrigerant loss, generally caused by a leak in the system.

At My Buddy Heating and Air, our air conditioning repair services include specific attention to your refrigerant, ensuring it’s of high quality and is not being lost for any reason. What exactly is air conditioning refrigerant, what are the types used, and what are some potential signs that your refrigerant could be leaking and causing cooling problems? Here’s a primer to help you understand.

air conditioner refrigerant leak

What is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a necessary substance for your air conditioner to function. Technically, it’s defined as a form of chilled air that’s both evaporated and condensed (changing regularly from liquid to gas) within the closed-loop system of your air conditioner.

When the AC is operating normally, the refrigerant in the unit’s evaporator coil will take in enough heat to turn itself from a liquid state into gas. The outdoor unit, the condenser, allows the refrigerant to push resulting heat outside, where a fan blows it away. From here, the remaining cool air is pumped throughout the home through your ducts.

Common Refrigerant Types

For many years, the most common refrigerant type was freon, one many have heard of. Known technically as R-22, freon wasn’t only found in home AC units, but also in cars and several other areas.

Over time, however, research has shown that freon is not particularly efficient and also pollutes the air significantly. As a result, modern systems are being transitioned to other solutions that have better efficiency and do not pollute – in fact, at the conclusion of 2020, R-22 will not be produced or imported to the US at all. Speak to our staff about replacement refrigerant solutions and which is best for your system.

Possible Refrigerant Leak Signs

How can you know if your air conditioner might be dealing with a refrigerant leak? There are several signs that may indicate this:

  • Air still pumps, but doesn’t feel as cool as usual even if you’ve lowered the thermostat significantly.
  • The system is short-cycling, or turning on and off rapidly without finishing a cycle.
  • You hear a hissing noise near the AC unit, which might signal a leak and refrigerant escaping.
  • Your energy bills go way up compared to last year, or compared to what your neighbors are paying for similar use.
  • You see ice present on coils, in condensers or within any area of the AC system.

If you notice any of these signs, call our HVAC professionals for assistance. To learn more about this or any of our heating and air technician services, speak to the staff at My Buddy Heating and Air today.