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What You Need to Know About AC Freon Leaks and What to Do

A cool, comfortable home can feel magical on a hot summer day. With a few taps of the thermostat, you can go from sweating to sleeping comfortably. While it may seem like magic, what’s happening in that big metal AC box outside is science.

Air conditioners rely on a refrigerant, in many cases, freon, to help cool the air circulating through your house. More often than not, when your AC breaks down and stops blowing cold air, a refrigerant leak is to blame.

Do you know how to tell if you have a freon leak? Refrigerant leaks can not only be harmful to the environment, but dangerously harmful for your health too. If you live in a house with AC, it’s important for you to be able to identify a refrigerant leak and know what to do if your AC is leaking.

air conditioner not working

What Is Freon?

As a type of refrigerant, freon removes heat from the air inside of your home as it moves through the AC unit and displaces it outside. The air conditioner then circulates the cool air through your house.

Without a refrigerant, your HVAC system would just continue circulating the same warm air through your house. For your home to stay cool throughout the summer, the level of refrigerant in your AC system needs to remain full.

The refrigeration system that houses freon in your AC is a closed system. With a closed system, none of the gas or fluid within the system has a chance of escaping, unless there’s a leak. A technician should never recommend “topping off” your system’s freon—they should recommend fixing the leak.

If your technician does recommend topping off freon, contact a different company immediately to come and take a look at your system.

5 Signs Your AC Is Leaking

You don’t have to be an HVAC expert to know if your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant. We’ve come up with five critical indicators your system needs an immediate repair.

  1. AC is blowing warm air. As we pointed out earlier, refrigerants like freon cool the air by removing heat and circulating cool air through your home. If there’s not enough freon in the system, it may feel like the blower is circulating warm air through your house.
  2. Low airflow. Understandably, if your system is running low on refrigerant, it won’t be pumping out as much cool air. This effect may feel like there’s a lower airflow coming through the ducts in your house.
  3. Ice builds up on outside lines. If you notice your house isn’t as cold as it should be, and you start poking around the outdoor unit, you may see icy buildup on the copper refrigerant lines. This sign is a surefire indicator that your system has a refrigerant leak.
  4. It won’t maintain a consistent temperature in the house. Are you noticing that your home can’t seem to keep cool during the middle of the day, but it cools down at night? If your house is struggling to stay cool, but you can still feel some cold air coming, it’s an indicator your AC may have recently sprung a leak.
  5. Your utility bill has skyrocketed. If your air conditioner is running low on refrigerant, it’s not operating at its optimal efficiency. Even when working at 100 percent, ACs demand a lot of electricity. If your AC is always running because it’s trying to keep the house cool, you’re going to see it reflected on your utility bill.

What Should You Do If You Expect Your AC Is Leaking Freon?

If you expect your AC is leaking refrigerant, the first thing you should do is turn off your thermostat. By running the AC with a leak, you’re at risk for causing more damage to the unit and releasing more freon into the environment.

While refrigerant leaks are easy to identify, it usually takes a skilled hand to locate the leak, complete the repair, and recharge the system with refrigerant. Althoff Industries can help. We offer expert 24/7/365 AC repair. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 815-455-7000 or if you have an emergency dial our hotline at 800-225-2443.

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