Refrigerant Leaks and What Causes Them

Two Bass Air Conditioning Co. Technicians at work

Refrigerant leaks are the number one mechanical problem in the air conditioning industry and one of the most frustrating. Every year people call in for service on their air conditioner and the diagnosis is usually a refrigerant loss. As the price of refrigerants continues to rise, the cost of the service call goes up. The tendency of some folks is to just simply recharge the system with refrigerant and hope it lasts the season. This is faulty thinking. If the leak is not repaired the refrigerant will leak out again and require further service. If this continues for several recharges, the oil in the compressor will deplete enough to damage the compressor and require a major and expensive repair. Aside from being costly, a leaking system adds refrigerant to the atmosphere and isn’t particularly good for the environment.

Repairing the leak is the only option that makes sense. Yes the cost to repair is higher than simply recharging the equipment but once the repair is made, the reoccurring costs of recharging because of that leak are eliminated and you’re doing the right thing for all of us.

What Causes Refrigerant Leaks?

Refrigerant leaks can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Vibration can cause a leak over time.
  • There are many joints or connections in a typical air conditioner or heat pump that can weaken over time and cause a problem.

Additionally, copper is subject to formicary corrosion caused by pollutants in the air such as hair spray, cleaners, air fresheners and “off gassing” by building materials and furnishings. This type of corrosion attacks the copper tube walls of the indoor coil and causes leakage usually in more than one location. This type of leak can be repaired but it is many times wiser and less costly to replace the entire coil for the best reliability. Age is also a factor in susceptibility to leakage, and as the refrigerant circulates under high pressure, there is wear on the inside of the tubing which over time will cause a thinning of the tube walls thereby compounding the possibility of leaking by the previously mentioned causes. Call Bass Air Conditioning Company today to learn more.

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