How to know when your AC is leaking?

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As the days begin to cool and we transition from the heat of summer, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how your air conditioner has been holding up. It’s not necessarily at the forefront of our minds during the sweltering heat, if we assume it is working well, but taking a moment to assess the performance of your AC system can play a crucial role in identifying potential issues early on, such as the dreaded refrigerant leaks.

The refrigerant in your air conditioner is subjected to high pressure, and over time, the lines housing the refrigerant can weaken and eventually give way, leading to leaks. When this occurs, not only will the leak need to be sealed, but the refrigerant will also need to be topped up, which can be quite a costly affair depending on the severity of the leak.

This highlights the importance of regular air conditioning maintenance. Routine inspections and pressure tests can catch issues like refrigerant leaks in their infancy, potentially saving you from a hefty repair bill down the line. But even outside of your annual tune-up, there are signs that you can watch out for which may indicate a refrigerant leak.

Here are six key indicators that your air conditioning system may be suffering from a refrigerant leak:

1. Inadequate Cooling: If you find that your system is struggling to maintain a comfortable temperature during the hotter parts of the day, a refrigerant leak is a likely culprit.

2. Humid Indoor Environment: Air conditioners do more than just cool; they also play a vital role in reducing indoor humidity. A refrigerant leak can compromise this function, leading to a muggy indoor atmosphere.

3. Extended Cooling Cycles: While it might not be immediately obvious if your system is lagging behind your thermostat settings, you can often tell by listening to the duration of the cooling cycles. Unusually long cycles can be indicative of a refrigerant leak.

4. Spike in Energy Bills: If you don’t notice any of the physical symptoms mentioned above, a sudden increase in your energy bill can be a clear indicator that something is amiss. The inefficient cooling and extended cycles caused by low refrigerant levels can significantly drive up your power consumption.

5. Ice on Evaporator Coils: One of the more visible signs of a refrigerant leak can be observed on your outdoor AC unit. If you notice ice forming on the evaporator coils during hot weather, it’s time to call in the professionals.

6. Unusual Sounds: If you hear bubbling or hissing sounds coming from your outdoor unit when it’s not running, it could be a sign of a significant refrigerant leak.

It’s worth noting that refrigerant leaks can occur due to environmental factors, lack of maintenance, or simply due to the age of the system. Even a well-maintained system isn’t immune to leaks over time. If your system starts losing refrigerant due to old age, you might be able to get away with a single recharge, but that should be your cue to start considering a replacement before the next cooling season rolls around.

Ideally, annual maintenance from a professional air conditioning service provider, like Bellows Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical, will help you anticipate and address these issues in a timely manner, allowing you to plan for a system replacement before your refrigerant lines are compromised.

If you suspect that your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant or if you need a leak repaired urgently, don’t hesitate to reach out to Bellows Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical. Our team of skilled professionals is equipped to handle all your heating and cooling needs, ensuring that your system runs efficiently and effectively, providing you with peace of mind and a comfortable living environment.

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