Russell's Heating & Air Conditioning
Jul 17 2018

Why Air Conditioners May Start to Leak Refrigerant

In a post a few weeks ago, we discussed one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about air conditioning systems: that they will eventually run out of refrigerant. Your AC should retain the same charge of refrigerant for its entire service life, with no need to have professionals put in more.

But there is one exception: leaks along the refrigerant lines. When you notice signs that your air conditioner is losing refrigerant (frost along the evaporator coil, a drop in cooling power, a hissing sound from the cabinets) you need to call for repairs right away from HVAC professionals.

What causes these leaks to happen in the first place?

Well, it’s almost certainly nothing that you did wrong. Studies have shown that this problem stems from something called formicary corrosion, which is a type of corrosion that can affect the copper lines of an air conditioning system. Copper is primarily corrosion-resistant, which is one of the reasons that it’s so popular for plumbing systems. But this specific kind of corrosion, which is caused by formic acid developing along copper surfaces, is enough to open up small holes along the refrigerant tubing in an AC.

Where does this formic acid come from? The culprit is formaldehyde, one of the most common air pollutants found inside homes and a byproduct of a number of household chemicals. Although you can have air purifiers installed in your house to reduce formaldehyde levels, it’s almost impossible to thoroughly eliminate it.

Even though there is no fool-proof way of preventing refrigerant leaks, you can stay vigilant of their occurrences. Make sure that you always schedule annual maintenance for your AC from a professional (spring is the best time) so that technicians can detect leaks early on, and always call for repairs immediately after you notice warning signs of refrigerant loss.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers quality air conditioning repair and maintenance in Cherry Valley, CA. Call our offices for exceptional customer service.