If you have noticed that your home is not cooling off as well as it should, you may start to suspect that the refrigerant level may be low. However, since the refrigerant runs through a closed system and is not used up like gas in your car, a low level is a strong indicator for a leak somewhere in the unit. If you believe that this may be the case, look for the following signs that your home's central A/C unit is leaking refrigerant.
1. Hissing Noises Heard While the Unit Is Running and Shortly After It Kicks Off
One sign for which you should be on the lookout when trying to determine whether or not your A/C system is leaking refrigerant is the presence of a hissing noise. This noise is often heard while the unit is running. However, you may also hear the sound shortly after it kicks off.
If the leak is coming out of a small hole or crack, the increased pressure within the line will force the refrigerant out. Because of the pressure, it will make the hissing sound as it is pushed through the opening. Once the unit kicks off, there will still be pressure within the line, and you will hear the sound until the excess pressure is released.
2. Ice Buildup on the Refrigerant Line and the Condenser
Another sign that indicates a possible refrigerant leak inside of your central air conditioner is ice buildup. The ice may be centralized on the refrigerant line when it first starts leaking. However, eventually, ice may start to form on the condenser and freeze up the unit.
Because the cooling property of the refrigerant is escaping its enclosed line, the air inside of the unit around the line will become extremely cold. Any condensation in the area will freeze, causing the formation of ice. As the leak causes expansion of the cold area, the ice will start to form on the condenser as well.
If your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, it will not only cause issues with your system's ability to keep your home cool, but it will also prove detrimental to the surrounding environment. Because you must have the proper licensure and training to deal with refrigerants, do not attempt to repair the line or refill it yourself. Contact an HVAC contractor who provides residential A/C services in your area to have them come out to fix the problem and top off the level for you.