How Do I Know If My Air Conditioner Has A Refrigerant Leak?

feeling hot and sticky due to high humidity levels

Refrigerant leaks in your air conditioning system are one of the most common causes of HVAC inefficiency. However, it is not easy to identify. Aside from significantly affecting your home’s comfort, this issue also poses a few health risks, especially if you do not repair it immediately. Read on to find out more about an AC refrigerant leak and its various causes.

Explore Our Air Conditioner Services Call To Schedule A Free, In-Home Estimate

How Do I Know If My Air Conditioning System Has A Refrigerant Leak?

This article will help you understand the refrigerant’s role. It also includes several causes of coolant leaks and what you can do if you find that your air conditioner has a coolant leak.

What Does An Air Conditioner Refrigerant Do?

air conditioner refrigerant

AC refrigerant is a fluid or gaseous compound that helps the refrigeration cycle of your air conditioner or heat pump. The compressor in your air conditioning unit forces the refrigerant, like R-22, to pass through certain parts of the system. The refrigerant compresses rapidly as the compressor traps it into a smaller space. This causes the coolant molecules to collide and, thus, produces heat. The refrigerant then flows through the condenser, where it removes the heat with the help of fans. When the refrigerant cools down, it condenses into liquid. It then passes through the evaporator, where it cools down further. The air that passes through the evaporator is cooled before the system releases the air throughout your home.

The refrigerant is an essential component in the cooling process of the air conditioning system. If it leaks or runs low, then there is a reduction in the unit’s capability to cool down the area.

Call Today: (610) 377-1098

Causes Of An AC Refrigerant Leak

image of an hvac contractor checking ac refrigerant levels

Some of the common causes of a refrigerant leak in your air conditioner are:

  • Corrosion: Your air conditioner has metal parts, like the copper tube walls in the indoor coil, and these can get corroded. As a result, they can develop cracks and holes where the refrigerant can leak through.
  • Weakened Air Conditioner Joints And Connections: As time passes, the joints and connections in your air conditioner will thin out or erode.
  • Improper AC Installation: An improper air conditioner installation might result in parts that are not fitted properly. Therefore, refrigerants can leak through these components.
  • Air Conditioner Factory Defects: The air conditioner might be defective even before installation. It could be because of incorrect handling or assembly. These factory defects could be why the coolant is leaking.
  • Air Conditioner Wear And Tear: Like any other machine, your air conditioner becomes susceptible to wear and tear as it ages. For instance, the rubber seals get worn out over time, allowing the refrigerant to leak.
Learn More About Our AC System Services Call To Schedule A Free Estimate

Signs That Your Air Conditioner Has A Refrigerant Leak

homeowner hearing hissing noise from air conditioner due to ac coolant leak

Below are a few of the signs that point to a refrigerant leak in your air conditioning system:

  • Higher Electric Costs: A leaky air conditioner works inefficiently. Therefore, it strains to achieve the desired thermostat setting inside your home. This will significantly increase your home cooling bills.
  • AC Takes A Long Time To Cool Your Home: Having a refrigerant leak means that your air conditioner’s cooling power is severely reduced. Therefore, it will take longer for your home to cool down after you switch on your system.
  • High Humidity Levels: One of the features of your air conditioner is to remove the moisture in the air. If your system has low refrigerant levels, it might not be able to dehumidify your home correctly.
  • Frozen Evaporator Coil: If there is insufficient refrigerant circulating through the evaporator coils, it will not absorb heat, and the condensation on the coil will freeze. You will end up with a frozen evaporator coil when this happens.
  • Air Conditioner Leak: Leaks in your cooling system happen when the ice on the evaporator coil melts. The water will trickle out of the unit and form a puddle on the floor.
  • Hissing Sounds: A hissing sound typically indicates a hole or crack on the coils where the refrigerant passes. If you hear a gurgling sound, there could be a bigger hole in the coil.
  • Low Airflow: Low refrigerant levels mean that the air conditioner cannot produce enough cool air. Thus, you will experience a low airflow throughout your home.
Call To Schedule A Free Consultation


Dangers Of Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks

It can be problematic if the refrigerant leaks through the vents. Exposure to refrigerant leaks can present several symptoms, including shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of coordination, skin rashes, and dizziness. Skin contact with the refrigerant can lead to frostbite or chemical burn. Inhaling high amounts of coolant can also result in loss of consciousness and seizures. The worst-case scenario would be exposure to coolant could lead to death.

Read Our Reviews Click To Schedule An Appointment Now!

Should I Repair Or Replace My Air Conditioner?

Never attempt to conduct a do-it-yourself repair or replacement on your air conditioner. A refrigerant leak can be caused by several issues that should be left in the hands of a professional HVAC technician. Tinkering with your cooling unit, especially if it is a new model, can void the warranty. Therefore, it is always recommended to call your local, trusted technician to handle the repairs.

The most common refrigerant that older air conditioners use is the R-22 compound. It is essential that you know that this type of coolant has been phased out since January 1, 2020. Since its production has stopped, it might still be available, but only in small and limited quantities sold at high prices. Therefore, if you own an old and inefficient air conditioner that still uses R-22, consider getting a replacement instead. This might be a more practical solution than a repair.

Most older units have more problems than just a refrigerant leak. Getting your old, leaky, and problematic cooling system repaired and topped off with refrigerant might cost almost as much as a new, ENERGY STAR® certified air conditioner. A new cooling system with a high SEER rating guarantees to provide you with enhanced efficiency, high comfort level, and improved performance.



Purchasing a highly efficient air conditioning system might be the best solution when you have a refrigerant leak problem. Simple issues can be repaired, but some defects and damages need to have a more reliable solution. Consult with an expert HVAC technician about what can be done to ensure you have maximum comfort and safety in your home.

Call R.F. Ohl For Your Air Conditioning Requirements

RF Ohl logo
When you need top-quality heating and cooling services in the Poconos and the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, do not hesitate to call R.F. Ohl. We have highly skilled and professionally certified technicians who are knowledgeable and experienced in conducting accurate heating and cooling services at all times. Some of the services we offer include A/C maintenance, boiler repair, furnace installation, and heat pump replacements.

R.F. Ohl has one of the most affordable and competitive HVAC costs in the area. If you are looking to enhance your home’s comfort, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, our maintenance services can help you. We can recommend the best HVAC make and model within your budget when you need a replacement system. All our works are backed with a guarantee. Book a service appointment by calling R.F. Ohl today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

Call Now: (610) 377-1098 Explore Our Case Studies

Click here to contact us today or give us a call at (610) 377-1098 if you have any questions.