How to Detect an AC Freon Leak

How to Detect an AC Freon Leak

When it comes to your air conditioning unit, it has several components that need to be functioning correctly in order to keep you cool and warm throughout the year. AC refrigerant, also called Freon or coolant, is one such compound.

This chemical absorbs the heat from your air indoors, then it takes the air and expels it outdoors, which cools the air.

That is how most air conditioning units work. In other words, it can change between a fluid and a gas in order to provide temperature control. So whether you have a ductless or ducted air conditioner, it's going to use refrigerant to cool your home.

However, sometimes the AC refrigerant can leak. If the air conditioner is leaking Freon, then it can interfere with the ability of your AC to cool. If it's not cooling well, then your bills obviously can go higher and you're not going to be comfortable. Therefore, you need to be able to quickly remedy the situation if you have a leak in your coolant.

So read on to discover how to detect a refrigerant leak. And we'll also talk about what to do, such as calling a company for AC repair in the future.

The Dangers of an AC Freon Leak

If you have a refrigerant leak in the air conditioner, it’s very bad news. Freon is actually a tasteless and odorless material. However, it does have an effect on the environment, your health, and your air conditioning unit.

Environmental danger

CFCs can have a negative effect on the ozone layer. That's why they've been phased out. They were replaced with hydrofluorocarbons, but these also have problems as well. For instance, a refrigerant that's very popular in the United States can still contribute to global warming.

While some refrigerants have been updated, many still use Freon or HFCs. Therefore, if you don't fix the leak immediately by calling HVAC specialists, you could end up harming the environment.

Hazards for humans

When it comes to leaking refrigerant, AC units are no stranger. It happens a lot and while Freon can be dangerous for the environment, it's also directly dangerous to human beings.

That's why you should have refills and maintenance handled by a company for AC repair in Roswell. You can get refrigerant poisoning.

This is something that affects your body in a number of ways, such as nausea, coughing, vomiting, headaches, feeling dizzy, irritation of the eyes, throat, and ears. In order to avoid this kind of irritation, you should fix any leaks that you notice right away. You may even lose consciousness or have a coma or sudden death.

Danger to your AC unit

A Freon leak can majorly hurt your AC's performance. It strains the other components. That means your unit has to work harder just to keep your air cool or warm. This can also cause a compressive failure.

Ultimately, if your AC coils freeze, then your bill is going to be higher because your AC is running longer for the same amount of cooling. It can also mean that your AC breaks down, and that means you have to pay out of pocket for a replacement sooner rather than later.

Causes Of A Refrigerant Leak

There are a lot of things that can cause your refrigerant to deplete. Let's take a look at some of the most common reasons:

AC wear and tear

Over time your AC is going to weaken and have wear and tear. Your fittings, service valves, seals, and other objects could wear out over time. Also if you fail to get proper HVAC repairs and maintenance, then it could wear out faster.

A pinhole leak

Something that creates tiny bubbles is called a pinhole leak. These are very tiny holes in the AC coil of your unit. They typically happen when your older unit degrades. Certain acids form and thus create the holes.

Even products like paints, air fresheners, or glues contain the compounds that erode your coils. So eventually you should get the coils replaced or repaired.


Because of the vibration that your AC unit goes through, it can wear out the copper coils. All that friction and vibration will eventually wear it down.

Physical damage

If somebody accidentally bumps into an AC unit or you accidentally hit the unit with something, then this can cause damage to the structure of the AC.

Ultimately this can cause leaks as well. Signs that you have a refrigerant leak. So now let's talk about what a refrigerant leak looks like and how to tell if you have one.

How to Tell You’ve Got a Freon / Refrigerant Leak in Your AC

AC is not cooling as well

If you notice that your AC is not getting to the temperatures that you set it at, it could mean you have an AC leak. It may not be blowing as cold air as it used to either. If this happens all of a sudden, then your coolant could be the reason behind it.

So test out your vents and see if you can feel cool air. If not, you should call the air conditioning repair technician right away.

Cooling takes longer

Your air conditioning unit will have a more difficult time reaching the cooler temperatures that you set it at if it has a leak. So if you notice that it's taking much longer to reach your desired settings, then you should have it looked at.

Poor airflow

If you have bad airflow but everything else on the unit seems to be working properly, then it might be a refrigerant leak. You can place your hands in front of the AC vent. If it seems like a weak air current, then this could be a sign of a leak.

Your electricity bills are higher

One way to know if you have a freon or a refrigerant leak is if your cooling bills start to rise. You should stay fairly consistent across seasons. So if you notice a sudden jump, it's something to be aware of.

Your evaporator coils are frozen

Your evaporator coils can actually freeze, and then that means they're not able to absorb the heat as well. The condensation on your coils can actually become ice crystals. That means that you may have a refrigerant leak.

Another way to tell this is with leaking water. The condensation will eventually evaporate or drip onto the floor, giving you a telltale sign that you need to get something fixed soon.

The humidity in your home is higher

An AC unit won't be able to dehumidify the air as well if it isn't filled with proper coolant. So if you feel like you're not dehumidifying the air with your AC unit, then have a professional inspect it.

Bubbles or hissing sounds

If you see or hear bubbles, then this could be a sign of a refrigerant leak. They're sometimes called champagne leaks as well. When coolant leaks, it makes a hissing noise as well. So you may hear some gurgling, which is a sign that you have a refrigerant leak.

You smell chloroform

If you smell a sweet odor, which is similar to the antifreeze in your car, then this could mean that you have a Freon leak.

Any kind of strange smells from your AC unit are bad, but especially if they're sweet and sickly, that means it could be the freon itself that's leaking.

What to do if you think you have a leak

If you have a leak, always contact the professionals right away. They can come and inspect your AC unit.

They can provide the proper maintenance, repairs, or even replacements if it's necessary. That keeps you safe. It also ensures comfortable temperatures.