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3 Common Locations for HVAC Refrigerant Leaks

by Tod Althoff | Jun 21, 2016 | Property Manager, HVAC | 0 Comments



Air conditioners are closed systems, meaning that once you hook up your system, charge it with refrigerant and turn it on, it should never need more refrigerant. Unfortunately, air conditioners are not perfect systems, and over time, there is a high probability that the HVAC unit cooling your multi-unit residential building in Chicago will develop HVAC refrigerant leaks.

Signs Your HVAC Unit is Leaking Refrigerant

If your HVAC system is showing signs of a refrigerant leak, it is in your best interest to call an air conditioning technician as soon as possible. HVAC refrigerant leaks cause your air conditioner to work harder and run longer, which can increase the wear and tear on your system and cause it to fail completely.

  • You notice your unit runs longer than normal.
  • Your air vents are blowing slightly cool or even warm air.
  • Your building never reaches the desired thermostat setting.
  • Your electric bills have skyrocketed.

Suspect a Leak? Call a Pro! 

Common Areas for Refrigerant Leaks

HVAC systems typically develop leaks in three areas, including the condenser coils, evaporator coils and in the refrigerant line sets.

Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils have capillary tubes. These are very small tubes that have a tendency to vibrate when your system is operating, which causes these tubes to rub together or against another object inside your unit. Over time, the capillary tubes develop holes at the rub sites and require replacement.

Condenser Coils

Condenser coils and evaporator coils have U-bends in them. The U-bends are held together by tubular sheet metal. When your HVAC system is operating, the sheet metal at the ends of the tubes rubs against the ends of the copper tubes. This can create small holes where your refrigerant can escape. In some instances, this type of damage can be repaired, but it is usually a better idea to replace the entire coil.

Refrigerant Line Sets

Refrigerant line sets typically leak at the joints or flare connections. However, the line sets can start leaking if they are hit with a lawn mower or weed eater, tripped over or if you've had renovation work done around your line sets. The latter occurs when roofing or drywall nails pierce the refrigerant lines. Depending on where the line sets are leaking, they may be able to be repaired. If the leaks are large or there are multiple leaks, the line sets may need to be completely replaced.

Not sure if you have a leak? Call a Pro!

Troubleshoot or Call an HVAC Professional

If the maintenance staff in your Chicago multi-unit residential building has HVAC experience, they may be able to troubleshoot your system, but unless they are a licensed HVAC contractor, they will not be able to repair your system. If you suspect you have a refrigerant leak, it is best to call a professional.

Our HVAC technicians, here at Althoff, can perform a refrigerant leak test to determine if your unit has enough refrigerant. If your unit is running low on refrigerant, we will examine your indoor and outdoor coils and your line set to determine where the leak is located.

Once we find the leak, we will update you on the status of your system and present you with the repair estimate. If you agree to the repair, we will either replace the damaged section of copper or repair the copper to restore your unit's operational efficiency.

To have your HVAC unit inspected for leaks and repaired, call us at 800-225-2443.


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