Do you have central air conditioning at home, but not quite sure how it works? If so, it helps to know about refrigerant, which includes identifying low refrigerant and finding leaks
What Is Refrigerant?
Refrigerant is a key component of your air conditioner that is required for it to operate. This special gas has the ability to absorb heat in your home and transfer it to the outside of your home. It flows through the evaporator coil where it comes in contact with the hot air in your home. The refrigerant then absorbs the heat where it is released through the outdoor compressor. The closed system then cycles the refrigerant in and out of your home to chill the air.
How To Tell If You Have Low Refrigerant?
One sign of having low refrigerant is that your home's air conditioner will start to produce warm air. It will not happen instantly though since a leak will cause the refrigerant to gradually escape the closed system. The air will gradually get warmer as a result, until it reaches a point where you notice that the air isn't as cool as it once was. A refrigerant leak can also lead to having frozen evaporator coils, or an odd odor that is produced from the air conditioner while it is running.
How Do You Spot A Refrigerant Leak?
There are a few ways that you can identify a refrigerant leak to confirm that there is a problem. Start by checking the evaporator coil in the air handler. Does it have ice on it? If so, it's due to there being a lack of refrigerant in the system. You may also hear a refrigerant leak in the form of a hissing sound coming from the refrigerant lines. This is common if there is a small leak that is allowing air to flow out from the tubing material that the refrigerant passes through.
Some people have success locating a refrigerant leak by covering it with bubbly water. That hole will cause air to pass through it and create small bubbles along the pipe. It's not a guarantee that this technique will work, but can confirm any suspicions that you may have
Even if you identify a refrigerant leak, repairing it is likely out of your comfort zone. Hire an HVAC technician to repair the line and add more refrigerant to the HVAC system to get it up and running again. Contact a professional near you if you have more AC repair questions.