How Leaking Refrigerant Affects Your Air Conditioner

An air conditioner cools down your house by removing heat from the inside through the evaporator coil. That heat then moves to the outside cabinet where it is released. But what is actually carrying this heat from one place to another? It’s the vital part of an air conditioner that often goes under the trademarked name “Freon,” but which is generally known as refrigerant. Without this blend of chemical moving through the coils and lines of an air conditioner, there can be no cooling power.

The secret of refrigerant is that it shifts easily between liquid and gas state: during the evaporation stage, it absorbs heat; during the condensation stage it releases heat. But it never dissipates during this process, so its “charge”—its level—never drops from the optimal amount inside an air conditioner.

Unless there’s a leak in the system and that leads to trouble that requires professionals to fix the problem.

For the necessary repairs you need to keep your air conditioning system working, call on Clean Air Act and our 24-hour emergency air conditioning service in Oregon City, OR.

What Goes Wrong When Refrigerant Leaks

Because an air conditioning system is designed for a specific refrigerant charge, when the charge drops the AC will start to work ineffectively. Less refrigerant means an impaired heat exchange cycle: the refrigerant can no longer absorb as much heat from the outside, and you will start to notice warmer air coming from the vents.

The decay will start to speed up, not matter how slowly the refrigerant leaks out of the system. Once the evaporator coil encounters trouble absorbing heat, it will not cool down the remaining refrigerant enough, and the moisture along the coil will start to freeze. As more moisture freezes, it further blocks heat absorption along the coil. Ice will continue to develop across the coil until a full block of ice completely halts all heat exchange.

Before that point, however, the compressor might fail. Without a sufficient amount of refrigerant to cool it down, the compressor will start to overheat. If the compressor burns out, it will have to be replaced, and this is one of the most expensive repairs an air conditioner can incur. In many cases, it is more cost-effective to replace the whole air conditioning system instead of just the compressor.

Watch For the Warning Signs

Fortunately, leaking refrigerant does provide a few warnings to tell you what is happening. The first is an odd hissing noise from the cabinet as the high-pressure refrigerant escapes. The second is a drop in cooling that doesn’t seem to come from a mechanical error inside the AC. The third is the first indication of frost across the indoor coil. If you notice any of these symptoms, call for repairs. Technicians will locate and seal the leak, and then recharge the refrigerant.

Call Clean Air Act whenever you need fast and effective repairs for your air conditioning system in Oregon City, OR. We maintain the highest standards of quality for the benefit and comfort of our customers.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.