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Commander Air Inc. Blog

3 Reasons Why You Can’t DIY a Refrigerant Leak in Your AC


Refrigerant is the stuff that makes it possible for your air conditioner to cool your home. The system was manufactured with all the refrigerant it will ever need… unless it develops a leak.

What should you do if you think your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant? Can you fix it yourself? No! Here’s why not.

How Your Air Conditioner Works

The refrigerant is contained in coils, tubes which allow it to flow through the whole system. While it’s in the evaporator coils in the indoor unit, the refrigerant pulls heat from the air and evaporates into a gaseous form.

That gas flows to the outdoor unit, where it passes through the condenser coils, releasing that heat and condensing back to a liquid. It continues to flow and keeps making that circuit, carrying heat away from your home. The compressor is the component that pressurizes the refrigerant and keeps it moving through the system.

But sometimes, due to gradual deterioration in an older air conditioner or damage that could be caused by home renovations, amateur AC repairs, or even a storm-tossed branch, a coil is damaged and refrigerant begins to leak out.

How to Know if You Have a Refrigerant Leak

Signs of a refrigerant leak include decreased cooling power, increased utility bills, ice building up on the evaporator coils, a trickling sound of liquid dribbling from the unit, and the sweet, dry, chemical smell of the refrigerant itself.

You may not experience all of the signs, but if you spot any of them, something is definitely wrong, and you need AC repair in Milton, FL.

Why You Can’t Fix a Refrigerant Leak Yourself

  • 1: Expertise and Equipment: Professional AC technicians have sealed damaged coils and refilled the refrigerant many, many times. They have training, certification, and on-the-job experience, and they have the specialized tools to make the job go smoothly and quickly. While a general property management worker may have dealt with the occasional AC repair, they don’t do it every day, and as a homeowner, you’ve probably never dealt with this before.
  • 2: Risk to the Compressor: From what we said above, we hope you understand just how critical the compressor is to your AC system. But what we didn’t mention is that this component is the most expensive part of your air conditioner. In fact, when it fails, you’re probably better off getting a new air conditioner than trying to replace the compressor. One common cause of compressor failure is refrigerant leaks, because the lack of refrigerant causes the compressor to work overtime, burning itself out. But another cause is contamination, when something gets inside the compressor that shouldn’t be there. And if the refrigerant is overfilled by someone inexperienced trying to perform a repair, the refrigerant will enter the compressor and destroy it. So the side effect of putting either not enough or too much refrigerant into the system is severe.
  • 3: Safety: Today’s AC refrigerant is a chemical called R-134A, which replaced R-22 (which you may have heard of as freon) because it is less dangerous to the environment. But it is still not a safe material for untrained people to handle. High, direct exposure can cause anything from frostbite to cardiac irregularities. Because of this, the EPA requires that people who work with R-134A be specially certified to do so. For your safety, leave this work to trained professionals.

Contact the team at Commander Air Inc. Your hometown heating and cooling specialist for three generations.

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