5 Signs Your Air Conditioner is Leaking Refrigerant

5 Signs Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking Refrigerant
  • Author: Fazal Umer
  • Posted On: May 25, 2023
  • Updated On: July 11, 2023

An air conditioner (AC) is vital in enhancing comfort in your home during extreme weather conditions. For instance, it relieves the sweltering heat in the hot summer months. However, like any other machine, it’s prone to mechanical failure. As such, it’s crucial to monitor its operation and address any breakdown as soon as it occurs. So what can be the possible signs your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant? You can watch this video ad the rest of the blog to learn more:

Furthermore, this article will focus on the refrigerant leak, a common cause of emergency air conditioning repair.

What is a Refrigerant?

A refrigerant is a chemical essential to your air conditioner’s cooling process. It absorbs heat from the surrounding and runs it through compressors and evaporators to provide cool air.

Here are the several types of refrigerants:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (R12): This refrigerant was phased out because of its contribution to the greenhouse effect.
  • Chlorodifluoromethane: This one has also been linked to environmental damage. As such, manufacturers stopped using it in 2020.
  • R-410A (hydrofluorocarbon): This is a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. It’s popular among modern air conditioning systems.
  • R-407C (a blend of hydrofluorocarbons): This is another replacement for R-22 and is common in commercial ACs.
  • R-290 (propane): This also has a low environmental impact, hence its popularity.

It’s worth noting that every manufacturer specifies the best and most efficient refrigerant for their air conditioner. Using the wrong option may damage your AC system because of incompatibility.

Leaking this substance can also have severe repercussions on the operation and durability of your AC system. But how will you know that your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant? With the help of the signs discussed below.

Main Signs of Leaking Refrigerant to Consider

Low Cooling Performance

The refrigerant is the main component of any AC cooling system. As mentioned, it absorbs hot air and cools it before releasing it into the environment.

Air Conditioner

If there isn’t enough refrigerant, the AC unit won’t be able to absorb hot air effectively and will struggle to cool your house. So, if your air conditioner isn’t as cold as desired, it could point to possible refrigerant leakage. You may also feel warm air from the unit when it’s running.

Higher Electricity Bills

Low energy efficiency is another sign that you may need emergency air conditioning repair Montgomery, TX. Insufficient refrigerant may cause your AC unit to work harder to cool your home.

As it does so, it uses more electric energy than usual, leading to higher electricity bills. You may notice a sudden increase in your monthly bills without changing your usage patterns. However, remember that energy efficiency may result from many other factors. So, you must exhaust all telltale signs on this list and ascertain the fault before you decide on your next step.

Ice Build-Up on the AC Unit

Is ice building up on the AC unit or the refrigerant lines? This is one of the most common signs of a faulty air conditioner. Of course, it may not necessarily point to refrigerant leakage, but it’s a good indicator that your AC isn’t working correctly.

But why does ice buildup? It results from the evaporator coil not receiving enough refrigerant. As such, it causes the temperature to drop below freezing. This occurrence can damage the AC unit, reducing its lifespan.

Strange Noises

Sometimes your AC unit may produce strange noises. This isn’t a good sign as it indicates that the air conditioner isn’t working correctly. If it’s a hissing or bubbling sound, then it may be the refrigerant leaking out of the unit.

Turn off the system as soon as you notice this unusual noise. Of course, it could be something you can repair. However, it’s recommended that you find an AC repair company to be safer and prevent future leaks.

Unpleasant Smell and Stagnant Air

Do you notice an unpleasant smell coming from the AC unit? That’s another sign of a possible refrigerant leak. Remember, this chemical compound produces a distinct, sweet, easily detectable scent.

It’s worth noting that modern refrigerants aren’t dangerous to inhale. However, it may push oxygen out of your house as it’s denser than air. As a result, you’ll likely experience breathing issues over time. This a trickier sign to notice. But if you’re encountering anything resembling this situation, switching off the system and calling for help would be better.


A refrigerant leak can result in severe consequences like a damaged AC unit, health issues, and increased energy bills. Therefore, you must contact a technician when you notice any of the abovementioned signs.

This expert can diagnose and repair the leak, enhancing the unit’s performance. While at it, schedule regular maintenance to prevent future refrigerant leaks.

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Author: Fazal Umer

Fazal is a dedicated industry expert in the field of civil engineering. As an Editor at ConstructionHow, he leverages his experience as a civil engineer to enrich the readers looking to learn a thing or two in detail in the respective field. Over the years he has provided written verdicts to publications and exhibited a deep-seated value in providing informative pieces on infrastructure, construction, and design.