Keeping Your Home Cool during the Sweltering, Summer Months

2 Potential Hazards Of A Refrigerant Leak Inside Your Central Air Conditioning System

by Anthony Graves

While your central air conditioner is running, you may have noticed that the air coming from your vents no longer feels as cool as it once did. This lack of cool air may lead you to believe that the unit is just simply low on refrigerant and that you can wait on having it refilled. However, since the only reason refrigerant levels get low is that there is a leak in the system, there are a few potential hazards the leaking gas can cause that warrant immediate professional attention.

1.  Breaks Down the Metal Inside of Your Air Conditioning Unit

If your refrigerant is leaking, there is already some type of damage that is causing it. There may be a hole in the lines or a crack in the compressor that is allowing it to be released. And, while the damage may start out small, it will only become worse if you do not have the leak repaired sooner than later.

While the refrigerant is running through the lines of the closed system, the interior walls of these lines and the compressor are able to contain and withstand the corrosive properties of the refrigerant. However, once it leaks onto the metal on the outside of the system, these surfaces will become corroded.

At the very least, the hole from which the refrigerant is leaking will become bigger as it eats away at the metal. However, when the hole becomes larger, more refrigerant will leak out and possibly contaminate the exterior of the compressor, the motor, the fan, and other parts inside of the air conditioner.

This contamination will lead to these parts being corroded. If the corrosion becomes bad enough, you may be faced with either costly repair bills or having to replace the air conditioning unit, especially if the compressor is largely affected.

2.  Exposes Your Household to Potential Health Hazards

Another potential and serious problem with an air conditioner that is leaking refrigerant is that it exposes your family to the gas and increases their risk of certain health hazards. And, since refrigerant has no smell or color, you may not even know about its presence in your home.

While having a refrigerant leak inside your central AC unit does not necessarily mean exposure to it within your home, there is still a chance that it can happen. If the gas makes its way into the air flowing through the unit, it can enter your home.

In areas where you have a lot of ventilation, the gas may not have any adverse effects. However, if you normally keep certain rooms closed off, or if some of the rooms are small with little airflow, the refrigerant could start to accumulate. 

Especially if you have small children or elderly parents living at home, this accumulation of gas could lead to refrigerant poisoning. At first, they may have some difficulty breathing because of the gas's propensity to deplete oxygen. Then, as the gas is inhaled instead, other symptoms such as dizziness and headache may start to appear.

However, eventually, exposure could make them pass out or suffer seizures. If you suspect that you have refrigerant gas inside your house, take steps to treat anyone showing symptoms, open up all of the windows immediately, and call a professional to inspect your air conditioner.

If you have noticed the signs of a refrigerant leak, which include warm air coming from your vents, bubbling noises coming from the AC unit, or ice buildup on the refrigerant lines inside the unit, do not delay in having it fixed so that you can avoid the above hazards. Contact an air conditioning repair service as soon as possible to have them find and repair the leak.