HVAC System Care: Detecting an HVAC Leak

HVAC System Care: Detecting an HVAC Leak

An HVAC leak is a common cause of declining air conditioner performance as well as higher monthly cooling costs. Refrigerant is the lifeblood of your cooling system. It carries heat extracted inside the house to the outdoor unit where it’s dispersed into outside air.  Loss of refrigerant due to an HVAC leak may eventually cause even more serious consequences including irreparable damage to the A/C compressor, the most expensive single component in the system.

Air conditioners don’t consume refrigerant the way a high-mileage car uses up motor oil. If the refrigerant level in your A/C is found to be below manufacturer’s specs by a qualified HVAC service technician, a leak somewhere in the system is usually the most likely explanation. Simply adding more refrigerant will not resolve the issue.

Refrigerant leaks may originate at several common locations:

  • Indoor evaporator coil
  • Outdoor condenser coil
  • Copper tubing conduit connecting coils
  • Various fittings that join components

Common causes of refrigerant leaks include:

  • Coil corrosion caused by age or corrosive substances in the air such as salt air or pollution.  
  • Physical damage to the refrigerant conduit between the coils.
  • Wear and tear due to mechanical issues such as vibration.

Signs Of Leakage

Refrigerant leaks may not be visually obvious. Refrigerant is not under very high pressure so it will often leak silently and very slowly without notice, particularly from tiny leaks that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Symptoms of refrigerant loss relating to system operation include unexplained declining cooling performance, higher monthly operating costs, coil icing and potential damage to the compressor due to overheating.

Leak Detection And Repair

Pinpointing tiny refrigerant leaks requires professional HVAC leak detection technology utilized by a qualified HVAC service technician.  Once the leak is identified, repair or replacement of the affected component is usually straightforward. After the leak has been eliminated, the technician will add more refrigerant to return the level to manufacturer’s specification and restore system performance and efficiency.

For qualified professional service to detect and repair an HVAC leak causing refrigerant loss, in the Coastal Bend contact the professionals at CCAC.

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »