Signs Your AC is Leaking Refrigerant

Posted: 2020-07-16

Summer is the season when you usually rely on your air conditioner to stay comfortable at home. It allows you to remain productive, especially when you are working at home. Unfortunately, this is not so if your AC is leaking refrigerant. This is a common problem, and it can happen to any air conditioner, especially if the unit is not regularly inspected by a professional.

Four Seasons Air Specialists is your trusted HVAC company in Circle Pines MN. We understand air conditioners from the inside out and can help you ensure your AC is working correctly, and no refrigerant escapes from the unit.


Air conditioners use refrigeration technology to cool indoor air by using a first physics law: when liquid converts to gas, it absorbs heat. Your cooling system uses this conversion process by forcing particular substances to evaporate and condense continuously in a closed system of coils.

Your air conditioner is equipped with a refrigerant, a substance that transfers heat from one place to another. It is usually in a gaseous state at room temperature and changes in low temperatures. When hot air flows over the cold, low-pressure evaporator coils, the refrigerant absorbs the heat and transforms it from liquid to gas. Then, the air conditioner converts the refrigerant back to liquid form again. The compressor makes it possible by putting the gas under high pressure, creating unwanted heat. The extra heat is compressed and then released outside the home through another set of coils and a secondary fan.

Now that you have a basic idea of how refrigeration works let’s talk about the most common signs of refrigerant leaks.

Warm Air

As your air conditioner runs, it is supposed to release cold air through the vents. But if you feel weak or warm air is being let out, you may be dealing with a refrigerant leak. This issue prevents the system from creating cool air.

However, weak air can also be caused by dirty filters. So, check the filters first and ensure the system has good airflow. If the problem has nothing to do with the filter, a refrigerant leak may be going on.

Frozen Condenser Coils

Low refrigerant can keep the indoor coil from absorbing the proper amount of heat. It weakens the cooling capacity of your air conditioner, but it also causes the evaporator coil to start to freeze since the refrigerant’s temperature is not rising high enough. The more ice buildup throughout the area around the coil, the less it can soak up heat, resulting in subpar cooling that will eventually cause the unit to lose its cooling power completely.

The frozen condensation will likely start to melt and drip on the floor. Try not to disregard frozen evaporator coils because doing so could lead to more significant damage and potentially cost you more than when you immediately took care of it.

A Hissing Sound

It may or may not be the sound of a crawling creature, but if you hear a hissing sound coming from the coils, it is a sign that the unit is releasing the refrigerant. This sign is one of the easiest ways to detect an air conditioner that leaks refrigerant. You will notice that the sound is significantly louder in the surrounding area where the air conditioner is placed. Sometimes, the sound can also be heard near the outdoor unit.

Excessively High Electricity Bills

Since the cooling system does not have the right amount of refrigerant to cool your home effectively, you resort to setting the unit at the lowest temperature, trying to get your desired comfort levels. Unfortunately, this results in a notable increase in your electricity bills. When the air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, it is forced to work harder than normal, consuming more energy. To avoid receiving immoderate energy bills, call your preferred HVAC professional to address the leaking refrigerant issue.

Need Help? Call Four Seasons Air Specialists

If you’re unhappy with how your AC is performing and suspect that it is leaking refrigerant, talk to one of our AC experts and schedule a service call. It’s our pleasure to help you fix the problem and restore the comfort in your home. We are your reliable Shoreview AC repair company.