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Why Refrigerant Leaks Can Occur in Your Air Conditioning System

Last week on our blog, we discussed the seriousness of refrigerant leaking from an air conditioning system. We’ll emphasize this once again: loss of refrigerant charge in an air conditioner is something that you must have professionals fix immediately! Your AC can’t run on a reduced charge because it is not designed to work that way.

However, this brings up a good follow-up question: “How do leaks start in an air conditioner in the first place?” The answer to this in an interesting one—and probably not quite what you expect.

How those problematic leaks start

HVAC experts have studied the causes of refrigerant leaks and found some unusual data: the leaks are most likely to occur in ACs that are 4 to 7 years old, and they happen more often in newer, high efficiency models. Furthermore, the leaks rarely occur at loose connection points or joints; instead, they happen along the copper refrigerant lines where tiny “pinhole” leaks open up.

Copper is a corrosion-resistant material, which means that it won’t rust because of contact with water. But corrosion leading to pinhole leaks happens because of the presence of formic acid along the copper lines. And, unfortunately, this is something that often occurs in homes.

But wait… formic acid? Where is that coming from? The answer is formaldehyde. This chemical is found in the air of many homes, and it not only affects the copper lines in an air conditioner, it can also affect copper pipes in the plumbing. If your AC begins to leak refrigerant, the reason is probably formaldehyde in the air. It is more likely to affect high-efficiency ACs because they use narrower copper lines to allow for improved heat transfer.

What can you do about this? There are two things. First, always schedule air conditioning maintenance every year to help catch the start of leaks. Second, look into installing an air purification system that will reduce the chemical levels in your indoor air.

Hall’s Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration can offer you both services: we maintain air conditioning systems and offer the installation of many types of air purifiers. Call us for service in Bossier City, LA.

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