Throughout its run, an air conditioner is expected to encounter different types of problems. While most of these issues can be easily solved with DIY fixes and simple repairs, there are also other complications that require professional attention and assistance. A perfect example of this is an aircon gas leak.
You might find yourself wondering: what is an air conditioning gas leak and how serious is it? Well, for starters, let’s begin with this: your aircon is not supposed to leak any gas. It’s designed to contain any gaseous substance solely for its own purpose and performance. So when a gas leak happens, the issue is considered to be a big health and safety threat — especially when it goes unchecked and unrepaired.
But don’t fret! Aircon gas leaks are easily manageable when detected and repaired at an early stage. As a matter of fact, it remains one of the most common services being offered by leading aircon servicing companies in Singapore. In this guide, we will walk you through the different causes and dangers of an AC gas leak and how to check if your unit is experiencing the same problem.
3 Dangers Related to AC Gas Leaks
1. It’s hazardous to human health
Like anything related to the substance, inhaling or coming into close physical contact with the presence of gas can pose several dangers to human health. Headache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting are just some of the usual symptoms that a person can experience when exposed to a unit leaking gas.
Another danger present in the gas substance comes in the form of chlorofluorocarbons. Prolonged exposure to this material can cause frostbites, an injury caused by the freezing of the skin.
Other health complications include skin cracking, reduced coordination, tremors, convulsions, and increased heart rate; continued exposure to the gas can lead to a person developing critical medical conditions, such as shortness of breath, unconsciousness, cataracts, skin cancer, etc.
2. It’s damaging to aircon units
Apart from health issues, an air conditioning gas leak can also exert extreme pressure on your air conditioner unit, causing you more money for expensive repairs and maintenance costs in the long run.
Think about this way: just like humans, your air conditioner cannot function properly if there’s something that’s ailing the entire system. When it’s forced to perform under high-pressure circumstances, the result can always end up in breakdowns or system failures.
3. It’s harmful to the environment
Because coolants are usually the ones that leak from an aircon, CFCs are naturally released into the open air. When this happens, it immediately gets picked up by the air and ultimately absorbed by the environment.
Since plants, animals, land and water all make up the environment, a single gas leaking-aircon can pose additional threats to an already-polluted ecosystem.
5 Common Causes of Air Conditioner Gas Leaks
Pitting corrosion is what happens when there’s continued exposure to fluorides present in water supplies and the chloride found in detergents and cleaning chemicals. The ions present in the fluoride and chloride attack the coil, causing it to leak gas refrigerant.
Formicary corrosion on the other hand is triggered by continued exposure to acetic or formic acids found in cleaning solvents.
2. Mechanical damage to refrigerant lines
Aircon units create their cooling effect by moving the refrigerant gas between the outdoor condenser coil and the indoor evaporator coil. These refrigerant lines are usually made of copper and bear the critical task of moving the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser. Any mechanical damage to these refrigerant lines can cause an aircon to leak.
3. Malfunctioning Schrader Valve
When the seal covering the Schrader Valve gets damaged, it can result in an AC gas leak and other refrigerant gas problems.
4. Leaky control valve connections
Sometimes, leaky links around control valves are the main culprit behind this issue. This problem can be generally avoided by making sure the valve is attached correctly and is thoroughly cleaned.
5. Poorly soldered fitting controls
Soldering issues are not uncommon in the industry. A cold joint, caused by an improperly melted solder, can easily lead to aircon leaks. Similarly, a disturbed joint or an overheated joint can lead to a wrongly fixed joint, which, in turn, can cause gas to leak from an air conditioning unit.
How to Check for Aircon Gas Leaks
1. Check any smell of gas
If you think that your unit is suffering from an aircon gas leak, the first thing that you must do is check for any smell of gas. The smell of gas is extremely strong, making it impossible to miss and easy to smell.
However, there’s also a good chance that the leaks are happening outside of your house, which can be impossible to smell due to the open fresh air damping the smell away. If this is the case, your best bet is to let an AC expert diagnose the issue and check whether it is an aircon gas leak.
2. Check the refrigerant and cooling pipes for stains
Another way to detect an aircon gas leak is to check the refrigerant and cooling pipes for stains. How? It’s quite simple.
Simply look for the aircon pipes located at the exterior of your aircon’s unit and check for any stain marks. If there are stains present, then your aircon must be suffering from a gas leak.
Apart from stains, oil leakages and condensation (moisture build-up) are also something to look out for in refrigerant and cooling pipes. Whether it’s an oil or gas leak, contact an AC professional right away to fix the issue.
3. Pay attention to any humming noise from the thermostat pipe
Aircon units have a thermostatic expansion valve that makes a humming noise in the wake of any leaks. Unfortunately, it is impossible to notice this sound with all the background noise inside a room. Thus, make sure to switch off everything and try listening to any sound coming from the valve.
If you hear a sound, it’s time to call an expert technician and get your aircon checked.
4. Perform a flame burner test
If you want an accurate way to test for gas leaks, you can perform a flame burner test on the unit. However, this is a test that should always be performed by an expert or someone with enough industry knowledge. Doing this without any proper preparation or adherence to safety protocols could result in injuries.
To perform the test, simply move the portable flame burner along the length of the aircon coolant pipe. In case of a leakage, the flame of the portable flame burner will immediately change its color to a greenish-blue hue from solid green.
5. Use a liquid tracer to detect any leaks
Another method to check for gas leaks is by using a liquid tracer for detection. There are a handful of specialized liquid tracers available in the market designed to detect aircon gases. However, these liquid tracers all use a fluorescent dye, causing their appearances to vary. Liquid tracers are quite easy to use and can help you analyze the health of your aircon in only a few seconds.
Keep Your Family and Home Safe From Aircon Gas Leaks
Staying one step ahead of aircon gas leaks are critical for you and your family’s safety. That’s why it’s important to always pay attention to any early warning signs of leaks or leakages in your aircon unit.
If you are looking for a trusted aircon servicing company to diagnose and repair your aircon unit, don’t hesitate to drop us a message here at Luce Aircon! Contact us today for a free consultation.