AC Refrigerant Leaks? Why They Occur And Why Homeowners Should Avoid DIY Solutions


Residential air conditioning systems rely on a process called phase conversion to create cold air. In a standard A/C system, phase conversion can be described as the process where the refrigerant converts into gas vapor to aid in removing heat from the warm air that has been pulled from the home. As the air passes through the condenser, it is chilled before being sent back to the interior of the home. The process, aided by fans and ducts, is repeated over and over to maintain cool comfort throughout the house. 

Why leaks occur

A stable supply of refrigerant must always be available within the air conditioning system to enable the phase conversion process. The metal tubing that contains the refrigerant is made from copper, which is soft and relatively easy to shape and configure during the air conditioning manufacturing process. 

While easy to work with, the softer nature of copper tubing does increase its risk of it being affected by impact, aging, and damage from naturally occurring acids that corrode and weaken the surface of the tubing. 

The formation of tiny pinhole leaks allows the refrigerant to seep out. Refrigerant leaks can also occur when stress, wear, or age weakens joints and connections throughout the condenser unit. 

What are common symptoms of leaks?

When refrigerant levels drop, the air conditioning system will begin to work harder as it attempts to cool the home to the thermostat setting. Homeowners may notice one or more of the following symptoms when a leak has occurred: 

  • the system runs more often or for longer time periods
  • the air coming from the vents does not feel as cold as it should
  • the coils on the compressor unit are covered in frost or a layer of ice

Sharp increases in cooling bills are another important sign that a refrigerant leak has occurred and the air conditioning is struggling to perform. 

Why homeowners should avoid DIY fixes

Homeowners who suspect that their central air conditioning systems have developed a refrigerant leak may try to save money on the repair by purchasing a DIY repair kit. Unfortunately, doing so often fails and can result in a later, more extensive repair issue.

In order to get a good result from a DIY repair attempt, homeowners need the proper equipment to be able to gauge the pressure in the system and determine how much refrigerant is needed to restore it to the proper level. In addition, home repair kits are designed for small repair issues and are not suitable for those with multiple or large leaks. 

To learn more about the importance of maintaining stable refrigerant levels in your home's cooling system, contact an air conditioning repair contractor in your area. 


5 February 2021

furnace repairs - do it yourself?

Can furnace repairs be made by the average DIYer? If you know a little about what you are doing, is it possible to avoid the expense of having a professional come out to take care of any problems that you are having? My blog is all about furnace safety and repair. You will learn a few things that you can do on your own and advice for when to call in the professional repair technician to assist with the repairs. By the time you reach the end, you will have a better understanding of what you can and should not do on your own.