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Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Blog

What Does a Refrigerant Leak Mean for My Air Conditioner?


There are a lot of different problems that homeowners may run into with their air conditioning systems. It is important that any and all problems with your AC are addressed as swiftly as possible in order to minimize the risk of serious damage to your system. Even “minor” issues can cause big problems if given the opportunity.

Now, that being said, not all air conditioning problems are on the same level. Yes, they are all deserving of prompt attention. However, something like a refrigerant leak needs to be prioritized immediately. A refrigerant leak can do very real damage to your system if allowed to persist. Here are some signs that your air conditioning in Altoona, IA, may be on the line with a refrigerant leak.

It’s the Refrigerant That Allows for Cooling

Well, the refrigerant cycle, that is. Your air conditioner cools your home not by bringing cool air into the house, but by removing heat from the air that is already in your home. It does this by evaporating refrigerant in the evaporator coil, which is part of the system that is inside your home. As refrigerant evaporates, it draws heat out of the air. From there, the cycle brings the warm refrigerant outdoors.

When the refrigerant gets outside, it travels to the condenser coil. It is in this coil that the refrigerant is condensed, its heat being transferred to the air outside in the process. As you can see, refrigerant plays a vital role in the cooling of your home. And a lack of sufficient refrigerant in your system really spells trouble.

Refrigerant Is Not Consumed

There are really only 2 reasons why refrigerant in your air conditioner would be low. It’s possible that your system was not charged properly to begin with—though not if you work with us! If that’s the case, the refrigerant needs to be charged up to the appropriate level.

If your system was properly charged, which really is typically the case, then a leak is the culprit. Refrigerant operates in a closed loop system. It is not consumed the way that gasoline in a car is. If you have a leak, it could be somewhere within the system or in the refrigerant lines connecting indoor and outdoor components.

The Risk Is Real!

If you are running a system that is low on refrigerant, then you are going to have trouble cooling your home effectively. Less refrigerant means less heat transfer happening. That can put a lot of strain on your system, too, forcing it to work harder and driving up energy costs.

Of course, that also puts a much greater risk for damages on your system. In fact, running a system that is low on refrigerant can actually result in irreversible damage to the compressor. When that happens, it’s time for a new AC! If you notice a drop in cooling output, short cycling, increased energy costs, or ice on your coil, contact us right away!

Schedule your air conditioning repairs with Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.

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