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5 Ways to Detect a Refrigerant Leak

Your air conditioning system needs refrigerant to function correctly. In fact, without refrigerant, your AC won’t be able to work at all.

Refrigerant is a chemical compound that is necessary to carry out the cooling process. In its gaseous form, it absorbs heat and transforms into a liquid. Once the liquid refrigerant enters the condenser, it releases the heat outdoors and turns back into a gas. This cycle is repeated over and over again until the thermostat reaches a set temperature. 

As a homeowner, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your HVAC system’s refrigerant levels. However, refrigerant leaks can appear out of nowhere — and running out of refrigerant can spell trouble for your AC in Butler County.

Fortunately, you can learn how to find a refrigerant leak all by yourself. While some methods may seem straightforward, it’s important to prioritize your safety during the detection process. Let’s discuss five ways to detect a refrigerant leak in your home without further ado.

Perform an Inspection

You might think that most refrigerant leaks happen at the evaporator coils. However, these leaks can occur in various locations. As such, it can be incredibly helpful to perform a thorough inspection of your air conditioner to find leaks.

When learning how to check for refrigerant leaks, you probably want to start with the simplest method. An inspection is certainly one of the easiest.

First, listen for strange sounds coming from your air conditioner, such as hissing noises. Your AC shouldn’t be making unusual noises — and if it is, it’s important to know that something is wrong. For instance, these sounds can indicate that you’re dealing with a leak.

Once you’ve documented any sounds, perform a visual check on the unit. The presence of oil or dirt can suggest that a leak is occurring in that area. However, it’s worth noting that dirt spots can be false alarms. When learning about the different ways to detect a refrigerant leak, you should also keep an eye out for three common signs of low refrigerant levels.

Insufficient Cooling

Low refrigerant levels will make it difficult for your air conditioner to work correctly. If your AC has been taking longer to cool down your home or never meets your cooling needs, it can be highly beneficial to check for a refrigerant leak. The last thing you want is for a leak to get in the way of your household’s comfort during the hottest months of the year.

Higher Electric Bills

When your AC is low on refrigerant, it will have to work twice as hard to keep your home cool. You might also find yourself constantly lowering the thermostat to stay comfortable. As a result, you can see a surprising spike in your electric bills.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

While an inspection is one of the simplest ways to detect a refrigerant leak, there are several things you can look for, including frozen evaporator coils. When your AC has low refrigerant levels, the evaporator coils won’t be able to absorb heat properly. The coils can freeze as a consequence.

Use Soapy Water

The soap bubble method is one of the most convenient ways to detect a refrigerant leak. All you need is a soapy water solution and a spray bottle. Spray the soapy water on the suspected leak point. If there’s a leak, the leaking refrigerant will cause the water to bubble.

This is one of the most popular methods because it’s quick and effective. However, if you’re not sure what to look for, it’s time to call in the pros. 

Call a Professional

While there are several types of leak detection methods you can try, you shouldn’t have to worry about refrigerant leaks on your own. You can contact a trained professional to perform a professional leak detection service. One of the most common professional methods is electronic leak detection. Electronic leak detectors can include heated dioxide, corona suppression, and infrared sensors.

Another common professional method involves ultraviolet fluorescent dye. After this dye is added to your refrigeration system, the technician will use a UV light to identify where the leak is coming from.

If you need help detecting a leak, reach out to the HVAC professionals at Arlinghaus. Our team knows how to find a refrigerant leak and will perform the necessary repairs. Contact our HVAC contractors in Hamilton County to learn more about our air conditioning services today!