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Serving Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Serving Fairfax and Loudoun Counties and the
surrounding area

Monday - Friday 7:30am - 5:30pm | Saturday 8:00am - 1:00pm. CALL FOR EMERGENCIES


Serving Maryland, Virginia,
and Washington, D.C.

Serving Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Serving Fairfax and Loudoun
Counties and the surrounding area

24 Hour Emergency Services, 7 Days a Week

Home of Mr. Heat Pump

B&B Air Conditioning & Heating Service Blog

The Trouble With AC Refrigerant Leaks


If you take good care of your home’s central air conditioner and regularly schedule maintenance for it, it should work with few problems for most of its service life. Repair problems can still crop up, however, and one we advise you to look out for is leaking refrigerant. This is a common issue with AC systems and also one of the most damaging. 

Air conditioners have a set amount of refrigerant

When an air conditioning system is installed, the installer will place refrigerant into the system. This amount is known as the air conditioner’s charge. Unless the AC experiences leaks, the charge will remain the same throughout the life of the cooling system. 

We bring this up because people often have the misconception that air conditioners need to routinely have more refrigerant added. But refrigerant is not a fuel, and an AC doesn’t use up refrigerant as it runs. Instead, the refrigerant evaporates and condenses, which is how it moves heat from inside the house to the outside. The refrigerant won’t dissipate as it switches back and forth between gaseous and liquid mode, leaving the same charge in place.

How leaks can occur

Leaks in an AC can happen because of loose connections (often the fault of a poor installation job) or corrosion along the copper refrigerant lines. Copper can resist most forms of corrosion, but it has a weakness for a type of corrosion from reactions to volatile organic compounds in the air, particularly formaldehyde. Unfortunately, VOCs are common in homes, and refrigerant leaks can start as early as 5 years into the life of an AC.

Why leaks are a problem

An air conditioning system is designed to work with a specific charge of refrigerant—it can’t be more and it can’t be less. When the refrigerant charge drops because of leaks, it will affect the performance of the air conditioner and eventually cause a full system breakdown. Here are a few of the troubles leaking refrigerant will cause:

  • A rise in indoor humidity
  • A decline in cooling levels throughout the house
  • The air conditioner frequently tripping the circuit breaker
  • Ice forming over the evaporator coil
  • The compressor overheating and burning out

The last problem usually means the end of the air conditioner—it’s more cost-effective to replace the whole AC than replace a dead compressor. This is why you want to catch leaks as soon as possible so you can call us for the air conditioning service in Fairfax, VA to fix the problem. Regular maintenance service will catch leaks. Other ways you can detect the problem are noticing changes in humidity and temperature in the house, ice appearing on the evaporator coil, and the sound of hissing or bubbling coming from the AC. 

Call us to fix your leaking AC

If you call us to repair your AC and we find it has leaks, we’ll first seal the leaks and then restore the system’s correct charge. This second part is critical: an amateur may accidentally put in too much refrigerant, and this will also eventually cause the AC to break down. You can trust us to fix your AC right!

Call B&B Air Conditioning & Heating Service whenever you need repairs for your AC. We are always there when you need us.

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