The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Refrigerant Leaks In Your AC Unit

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

Your air conditioner is one of the most important appliances in your home during the summer months. The hotter it gets outside the more grateful you will be that you have a system that effectively cools it. 

If you haven’t yet got an air conditioning system you should invest in one today. Choose an industrial air conditioning system and you’ll quickly appreciate the benefits.

Of course, like all appliances, your air conditioning system needs to be regularly maintained. This will help to prolong its life. Failing to look after it will hasten the arrival of AC problems, one of the biggest issues is refrigerant leaks. They can cause your system to fail very quickly.

What Is The Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a chemical mixture in liquid form that circulates through your AC system, specifically the condenser. The chemical compound is designed to absorb the heat from the air, effectively cooling it and allowing you to have cold air in your home. 

You may already be aware of this. However, you may not have realized there are three different types of refrigerant and you need to use the right one for your system.

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This is often referred to as R12 and is a mixture of chemicals and carbons. However, this refrigerant is no longer made as it was found to be contributing to global warming. It will only be in your AC if your unit was produced before 1994 when the refrigerant was banned.


This is another compound, sometimes referred to as R22, which is harmful to the environment. As such it has been slowly phased out, the last systems to use it were made pre-2020.


Puron, or R410A, is the latest offering and offers greater efficiency while doing minimal harm to the environment. This is the future but it can’t be used on systems that run either of the above options. 

Dealing With Leaks

The refrigerant is stored inside your Ac at high pressure. Unfortunately, this means that the pipes and other components are constantly under pressure which speeds up the likelihood of a joint or even a piece of pipe rupturing. 

When this happens the refrigerant will start to leak and your system will be less effective at cooling your property. The most common signs of a refrigerant leak are:

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Warm air

This is the most obvious sign that you have a refrigerant leak. If you turn the system on and it is still putting out warm air after an hour, you have a leak!

Bubbling sounds

Bubbling sounds and even hissing happen because the pressure is escaping from the system. You’ll hear these noises by the unit.


The more refrigerant you lose the harder it is for your unit to cool the air and the less efficient it will be. 

You should note that the only safe way to fix an AC with leaking refrigerant is to get the professionals to do it. They can replace the leaking section and re-pressure the system.

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