Refrigerant leaks are common in air conditioning systems of any variety, including automotive air conditioners and central systems in most houses. If your home's air conditioning system develops a refrigerant leak, you might not initially notice anything amiss. However, low refrigerant levels will inevitably lead to frozen evaporator coils, system short cycling, and poor performance.
If you're familiar with do-it-yourself repairs around the house, you might think that a refrigerant leak is a problem you can tackle on your own. Unfortunately, refrigerant leaks usually require a professional HVAC contractor, like most AC repair issues. Below are three reasons why you probably can't complete this job alone and why you shouldn't attempt to do so.
1. You Might Not Have a Leak
Doctors don't attempt to diagnose severe conditions by listening to symptoms; instead, they use the symptoms as a starting point and order sophisticated tests to find the problem. Similarly, an HVAC professional won't examine your system's symptoms and start replacing parts. A contractor will perform various tests to determine the underlying problem so you don't waste money on unnecessary repairs.
The symptoms of an HVAC leak result from reduced pressure at the evaporator coil, but issues such as a restriction in the refrigerant system can create similar symptoms. A professional technician will use commercial-grade testing equipment and their knowledge and experience to rule out these problems before they begin to look for a leak in your system.
2. Testing Refrigerant Levels Isn't Easy
The most useful property of any refrigerant chemical is its ability to absorb heat and easily change phases between liquid and vapor. This property means that measuring refrigerant levels isn't always easy. Technicians measure refrigerant levels by checking system pressure, which can vary between the high and low sides of the system.
Measuring both pressure and temperature in the system is crucial to determine if you have a leak or another issue. Your technician may also need to measure these values with the system off and while the compressor runs. Without the knowledge to evaluate these results, you won't be able to determine if your system is low on refrigerant.
3. Finding Leaks Is Hard
The hard part will begin once you know your system is leaking. Finding refrigerant leaks can be challenging, especially since leaks can develop in the refrigerant plumbing running through your evaporator or condenser coils. This work can be hard even for skilled technicians, and locating leaks in non-obvious locations can be nearly impossible for do-it-yourselfers.
While repairing a leak might seem like a good way to save money, hiring a professional will likely be cheaper and easier. You'll save time and, more importantly, you'll avoid the chance of causing more damage to your home's air conditioning system.
Contact a local HVAC service, such as Add Air INC, to learn more.