Exposure to even mild amounts of freon can cause health symptoms such as chemical burns, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. If you suspect freon leaks, it’s crucial to act fast and leave repairs to a professional that’s equipped to safely handle this chemical.
Here’s why prompt action is vital, the steps you should take to avoid freon poisoning, and how to correct the issue.
Is Freon Toxic?
Yes! Freon, also known as refrigerant, is toxic.
It’s the chemical that your air conditioning system uses to cool your home. While most symptoms of freon poisoning are caused by intentionally sniffing the substance, you still want to avoid contact with it.
Freon is tasteless and odorless, but it has an impact on your air quality and your health. Exposure can cause difficulty breathing, fluid in the lungs, and more. So if you suspect a leak in your AC system, don’t neglect the problem.
1. Search for Signs of Freon Leaks
One of the earliest signs of a possible freon leak is if you notice your AC blowing warm air or not working as well as it should. Decreases in performance are usually a sign that you need to contact an HVAC technician to take a look at your system.
Maybe the air coming from your vents is cold, but the airflow is weaker than it should be. This is also a sign you should check for any leaks.
Any problem that causes your air conditioner to work harder can also cause a surge in your energy bill cost. If you look at your bill and notice that it’s higher than it should be compared to how often you’re using the AC and other factors, it could be a leak.
Strange noises can also indicate this problem. For instance, hissing or bubbling is usually due to holes or cracks in your coils or refrigerant lines. Bigger holes can even create a gurgling noise.
If you can spot the hole, you might see tiny bubbles around the leak.
When your system works properly, it pulls heat and humidity away to keep your house at a comfortable temperature. Therefore, increased humidity in the home is a side effect of a faulty cooling cycle.
Water pooling around the bottom of an air conditioner is a sure sign there’s something wrong as well.
Finally, you might smell a chloroform-like or sweet smell from your AC, much like a coolant for a car. Again, freon can be hazardous to your health, so it’s crucial to contact an AC repair company as soon as possible.
2. Determine the Cause
There are many possible causes of refrigerant leaks. Thankfully, some are pretty preventable, so you can at least avoid this issue in the future.
Here are some of the most common reasons for a leak.
Wear and Tear
Depending on the age of your system, the components may have simply worn down. This is a common problem that happens to all parts. Unfortunately, the deterioration of those parts can cause leaks.
You can prevent this in the future by scheduling regular maintenance. The sooner you spot an issue and address it, the less it will cost you anyway.
Your air conditioning system is packed with components that each have specific functions. Given the complexity of your AC, a problem in one section can cause a domino effect of other issues.
If there’s something causing vibrations, the connections and joints inside can weaken or fall apart, allowing leaks to occur.
Over time, metal corrodes. When this happens, the AC coils develop pinhole or champagne leaks. Older air conditioning systems with copper coils and pipes are susceptible to degradation due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Certain chemicals like paints, glues, and even air fresheners can release these VOCs.
These days, many manufacturers are switching to aluminum coils instead to prevent this problem.
Improper installation can cause damage to your AC system and result in problems like leaks. The installer may not have placed it right, or maybe they didn’t secure all the parts and pieces the proper way.
That’s why it’s crucial to always work with a reputable HVAC company when you have a new air conditioner installed.
Sometimes, the source of a leak is due to a factory defect. Unfortunately, don’t didn’t notice this right away, it can result in leaks and other problems over time.
It’s important to note that cheaper air conditioners are more likely to wear down faster.
3. Contact an HVAC Company
Finding a leak is a task best left to the professionals. The refrigerant is inside your AC in a closed system. A professional technician has the tools and expertise necessary to spot leaks and repair the holes.
Since you don’t want to release more freon into the air, turn off your air conditioning. Neglecting this step can cause further damage and even pose a risk to your health and the environment.
If you have children or pets, keep them out of the area with the leak.
Contact your local HVAC company and ask if there are any precautions you should do to protect your family.
The fix isn’t as simple as adding more freon to top it off. A technician will have to find and repair the leak first.
Of course, there are some instances where repairs are impossible or not advised due to the cost. It may be better in these cases to replace the unit rather than fix the freon leaks.
Don’t Take Freon Leaks Lightly
Running an air conditioner with a freon leak is dangerous for several reasons. It’s harmful to your health and the environment. Plus, you can cause even more damage to your system.
If you suspect freon leaks, contact a heating and cooling specialist to take a look at your system immediately.
Are you looking for more ways to keep your house comfortable and safe? Browse some of our other articles to find home advice, tips and tricks, and more.