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Air Conditioner Refrigerant: Dangers and Signs of Leakage

Air Condition Maintenance
Your air conditioner (AC) needs refrigerant to run, and dire consequences can follow if the refrigerant leaks and you don't intervene early enough. Everyone who has AC should know what these consequences are and what the signs of refrigerant loss are. That knowledge can save you considerably in the long run.
Here are some of the consequences of refrigerant leaks.
Reduced Cooling
The refrigerant is the medium your AC uses to cool your house. The refrigerant absorbs heat inside the house and dumps the heat outside via the heat exchange process. If a leak reduces the volume of the refrigerant, the reduced volume of refrigerant won't absorb and get rid of heat as usual. Thus, your house will feel warmer than it should be even when the AC is on.
High Energy Bills
An AC unit will always strive to attain the temperature set on the thermostat. The AC typically runs until it reaches the set temperature, after which it switches off and only comes on again if the temperature falls. Therefore, an AC cools your house via cycles of on and off (active and passive) operations.
If your AC cannot cool your house as usual due to refrigerant leakage, the AC will have longer on cycles to try and cool the house. Since the AC draws in electricity during the on cycle, your AC will consume more power than usual, and your energy bills will inevitably rise.
Frequent Breakdowns
Those who design and manufacture AC units target a series of on and off operations. Any appliance that runs as its manufacturer never intended is likely to fail prematurely. The AC is not an exception here, and the refrigerant leak will cause your AC to break down more frequently than normal. You may even have to replace your AC sooner than you would have done sans the leaks.
Poison Hazard
AC refrigerant comprises fluorinated hydrocarbons, which is both tasteless and odorless. The gaseous compound is poisonous to human beings; if you breathe in the gas, it impairs your respiratory organs. Serious exposure to AC refrigerant through a leak can even lead to coma and death if you don't get timely medical assistance.
Mold Growth
The refrigerant in your AC should always circulate so that it can cool your house and also warm the AC coils. Without sufficient refrigerant, the AC coils will freeze and condense any moist air that comes into contact with the coils. The condensation may encourage mold growth on your AC, and the AC may circulate the poisonous mold throughout the house.
As you can see, the consequences of refrigerant leaks are varied, costly, and dangerous. As such, you should always watch out for signs of refrigerant leakage and take appropriate action. You should suspect a loss of refrigerant if:
Warm air blows out of your AC vents and registers
  • You can see cracks or holes in the refrigerant lines
  • You can hear hissing sounds near the refrigerant lines
  • You experience respiratory problems such as breathing difficulties (due to mold or refrigerant chemicals exposure)
  • You can see ice build-up on your refrigerant lines
  • Your electricity bill is unreasonably high
  • A single symptom doesn't necessarily mean that your AC has lost some refrigerant. But the more symptoms you notice, the more likely that a refrigerant leak is the culprit.
Now that you know why your AC should not leak refrigerant, watch out for the above signs call an AC technician if you notice something amiss. Powers Heating & Cooling can help you diagnose and deal with suspected refrigerant leaks, as well as other AC problems. Don't hesitate to contact us if you suspect a problem with your AC.