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3 Ways to Detect a Refrigerant Leak

One of the more common problems that an air conditioning system can encounter is a leak along the refrigerant lines. As refrigerant leaks out, it drops the set “charge” in the system, which must remain at this level for the AC to work correctly. A loss of refrigerant will mean a loss in cooling ability for the system, and it will also cause problems such as a frozen coil and even serious, irreparable damage to the compressor when it starts to overheat. When leaks begin, they need immediate repair from specialists, followed by a recharging of the system to the correct refrigerant level.

You cannot fix this problem on your own: although signs of leaks are often obvious (loss of cooling, iced evaporator coil, hissing sounds), locating the often tiny leaks themselves can be tricky. Here are three way that our Pensacola Beach, FL air conditioning repair specialists at Kool Breeze handle finding refrigerant leaks.

  1. Electronic detectors: In the HVAC world, these are usually called “sniffers,” and are the most common device used to pinpoint refrigerant leaks. Sniffers generate a high voltage spark that will drop in voltage when it encounters an insulating gas—such as R-410A, the refrigerant blend used in most modern air conditioners. The technicians run the sniffer along the refrigerant line until registering a large drop in voltage.
  2. Fluorescent detection: Fluorescent lights are helpful in picking out the otherwise hard to see escaping refrigerant gas. The technicians first add a fluorescent dye into the air conditioner’s system, and then scan UV lights over the AC. The leaking gas will appear as green.
  3. Bubble solution: This is an old technique that was around long before using UV lights and high voltage detectors. It doesn’t work for very small leaks, but technicians may use it if they suspect a large leak. Using squeeze bottles, the technicians apply a soapy solution along the area of the refrigerant lines where they think leaks may be. The escaping gas should create bubbles from the soap.

Although you could potentially try a crude version of the third method on your own, you still wouldn’t be able to fix the problem. Once the air conditioning experts have located the leaks, they will seal them up. Afterwards, they will recharge the system with the appropriate amount of refrigerant to replace what was lost. It’s important that they use both the right type of refrigerant and do not under- or overfill the system.

At the first suspicion of refrigerant leaks, call our team at Kool Breeze for air conditioning repair service in Pensacola Beach, FL. We are ready to assist you…24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give a us a call today.

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