The refrigerant fluid plays an important role in the overall functioning of your air conditioning unit. It provides the mechanism for heat exchange, where warm air is expelled from the home and is passed through the compressor to generate cool air for recycling into the premises.
If your refrigerant starts to leak, the ability of the AC to produce cool air is reduced. This may result in the unit running for long periods of time without actually cooling the home. In addition, a leaking refrigerant is almost like a leaking pipe; the hole gradually widens and the problem gets worse over time.
It is therefore important to identify refrigerant leaks early so you can have the leak sealed and the fluid refilled. Here’s how you can tell if your refrigerant is leaking.
A Slow Working AC Unit
As previously mentioned, the refrigerant is responsible for cooling warm air from your home. If the fluid is leaking, the AC will gradually become ineffective in its function. You will start to notice that the unit takes a longer time to cool the home. As a result, your utility bills increase without the home becoming more comfortable
A Hissing Noise When Your Unit is Operating
Refrigerant fluid can leak in many places along the air conditioning unit, particularly near the compressor or the evaporator coils. Leaks in these two areas often cause the AC to operate with a loud hissing sound.
The hissing is due to the fluid interfering with the path of airflow, causing unnecessary friction. Hissing noises can occur on either the inside or the outside portion of the unit.
Warm Air Coming from Ducts and Vents
You can also detect a leaking refrigerant fluid by checking the air coming out of your ducts and vents. If the ducts are constantly expelling warm air, this could point to low levels of fluid that are interfering with the ability of the AC to generate cool air.
In fact, checking the ducts can enable you to detect the problem sooner, before you incur hefty utility bills and poor indoor air quality.
A Freeze in Your Evaporator Coils
There are also some visible signs that point to a refrigerant leak. One of the most prominent is the evaporator coils beginning to freeze. This is often caused by the inability of the coils to absorb warm air from the home for cooling. As a result, the coils get quite cold and begin to freeze (due to low levels of refrigerant).
The sooner you detect a refrigerant leak, the sooner you can have it fixed to ensure that your unit is in good working condition.