When the aircon isn't cooling, and there's a sweet smell in the air, you've got a refrigerant leak! Refrigerant is hazardous once it leaks out of your AC unit - it is harmful to your health and to the environment, which is why it is important to properly identify the signs of a refrigerant leak, and how to fix it for good.
5 Signs of a Gas Leak in AC
Sign #1 Insufficient Cooling
An AC refrigerant leak would cause the air conditioner unit to malfunction as it does not have sufficient coolant to properly cool the air. Your unit may even short cycle - turning off and on at short intervals. If your AC unit is emitting warm air instead of cold air, you may have a refrigerant gas leak.
Check your AC air filter if it is covered in dust. A clogged filter can also cause your AC unit to blow warm air. If the AC filter is clean and the evaporator coil is not frozen, then you most likely have a refrigerant gas leak in your unit.
Sign #2 Frozen Evaporator Coils
An AC refrigerant leak may lead to a frozen evaporator coil as moisture around the coils ice up. Turn off your unit and let the ice thaw first. Then you may inspect your unit for any possible hissing sounds and sweet smells coming from your AC that would indicate a gas leakage. Contact one of our experienced technicians if you suspect gas leaks.
Frozen evaporator coils can be caused by a dirty coil 0r filter as well. It is a good idea to check for the last time you had your air conditioning unit cleaned before immediately suspecting a gas leak. Chances are your evaporator coils are simply dirty, which you can clean with a can of compressed air.
Sign #3 Hissing Sound Coming From Your Air Conditioner
Refrigerant and cooling pipes would sometimes create a hissing sound when there is a gas leakage through the thermostatic expansion valve. As gas escapes through narrow openings in the aircon coolant pipe, it creates a hissing or gurgling sound. While air conditioner sounds may indicate a number of issues, a refrigerant gas leak is one of them.
If you hear a hissing sound coming from your air conditioner, the best thing to do is to turn the appliance off. Check your air conditioning unit for any signs of a gas leak, such as a sweet smell, leaking pipes, and other issues. Contact a Luce Aircon HVAC technician immediately.
Sign #4 Air Conditioner Smells Sweet
Refrigerant gas leaks give off a sweet, chloroform-like smell when released. Alternatively, burning coolant may give off an exhaust smell instead as you may have electrical wiring on the fritz that is causing freon gases to burn. In this case, unplug your AC unit, and contact a technician to find and fix the gas leaks.
Sign #5 High Electricity Bills
Refrigerant leaks cause high electricity bills as the HVAC system works harder to provide cool air with insufficient coolants. If you notice your AC system is using up more energy than normal, and you notice other signs of leaking gas, then stop using the AC. Unplug the system, and contact a technician to fix the leak.
3 Tips to Prevent AC Gas Leak
Tip #1 Use a Halogen Gas Leak Detector
Some recommended ways to test for gas leaks involve using fluorescent dye or a portable flame burner, but these tests can be dangerous, and are often unnecessary as there are better ways to detect aircon gases. Using a gas leak detector is a safe option as the device can sniff out aircon leaks without any danger.
Use the detector to find traces of gas leaking onto coils, out of pipes, and even the outdoor condenser coil. This is a much safer way of detecting refrigerant gas problems than doing a dye test or a flame burner test.
Tip #2 Schedule Maintenance Checkups for Your AC Unit
Prevention is the key to preventing an AC gas leak. Don't just contact one of our HVAC professionals when there's an issue with your unit. Instead, schedule an aircon maintenance at least once a year for us to find any underlying issues or weak points before they turn into problems.
Schedule an aircon cleaning with us every six months as well to keep all aircon parts in good working order, and to prevent wear and tear of your air conditioners. Our technicians can clean, maintain, and fix any issues for you in no time, so you can enjoy the cooling effect of your aircon longer!
Tip #3 Do Not DIY Aircon Repairs
We do not recommend you handle any repairs for your AC unit, particularly when it comes to refrigerant gas leaks. Refrigerant leaks are no small matter, despite being a common issue with air conditioning units. Both liquid and gas refrigerants are dangerous to your health when touched or inhaled, so it is best to leave the repairs to the professionals.
Looking for more aircon tips and tricks? Check out the articles we have on our blog for aircon troubleshooting you can do at home!