All About AC Evaporator Coil Leaks

Every air conditioner features an evaporator coil. This coil circulates the coolant throughout a loop system, and this is the mechanism that cools the air moving through your office or home. Should your evaporator coil leak, you shouldn’t panic. Here is what you have to do: call a trusted HVAC technician, and your evaporator coil will start working again just like that.

How Does A Leak Happen?

Your HVAC system normally circulates the air moving it through its ducts and uses a coolant to absorb heat from the air indoors. During your day to day activities, it is reasonable to use aerosol air fresheners, adhesives for DIY projects, cleaning products, and so on. Most of these chemicals contain VOCs, Volatile Organic Compounds, which combine with the moisture in the air and produce acids. These acids form tiny pinhole leaks in your system’s coil, which are called Formicary Tunneling Corrosion. This corrosion allows outside air enters your home and slow refrigerant leak. This leak damages the environment as well as your home’s cooling system.

The main issue here is that most homeowners aren’t aware if they face refrigerant leaks or not. These copper coil holes are minuscule and can hardly be seen by the naked eye. The evaporator coil isn’t visible to a person staring at the HVAC system. This is why experienced HVAC professionals perform leak diagnosis.

Evaporator Coil Leak Signs

In humid areas, most homeowners use their AC systems during a long summer season, extending from late spring to early fall. The first refrigerant leak signal you will notice is your air conditioner taking longer to cool down your home. Once your system has less and less refrigerant circulating, the AC needs to work harder and longer to perform its duty. The result is uncomfortable, warmer temperatures inside your home.

Another coolant leak signal happens right when you turn on the AC or lower the set temperature in your thermostat. You should feel the cool air blowing right then and there. If the airflow is weak or doesn’t start immediately, that is another sign of a possible refrigerant leak. Other symptoms include warm air that comes out of the vents, frozen evaporator coils or a hissing noise coming from the outdoor unit, and even unpleasant smells when you turn on the air conditioner.

Some of these signals could also indicate different problems with your air conditioning unit. Nevertheless, warm air blowing from your vents with the cooling system on is always a bad sign. If this is your case, turn off your AC immediately to avoid further damage and call an HVAC professional ASAP for an inspection.

Sometimes homeowners compare their AC systems to their cars and think as if they “ran out of refrigerant” when they lack cool air. The problem with this reasoning is that the coolant inside the AC is continuously reused and never consumed. The only reason for a cooling system without refrigerant is a leak. If you have called HVAC technicians who told you to refill your system, they should also patch up holes or replace the evaporator coil. Otherwise, the leak will continue, and it is a matter of time before you have the same issue again.

What Should I Do?

If you see your situation described above and you believe you have a refrigerant leak, call us. One of our technicians will visit your home or office and check your system for leaks. If that turns to be the case, usually the best option is an evaporator coil replacement.

Some technicians try to patch up or seal holes and add more refrigerant, but it is very likely the refrigerant continues to leak, and you will waste money on electricity and continuous repairs. While a new evaporator coil isn’t a bargain, it will allow you to move on without further leaks.

Performing regular maintenance on your HVAC system is also a proactive move to ensure it is always in good condition. Another good step is to change the air filters monthly to keep the air flowing efficiently and catch dirt, dust, debris, pet hair, dander, pollen, and so on.

Call an HVAC technician twice a year to perform a thorough examination. He will be able to identify potential issues and give you options before you have to spend too much. Routine maintenance servicing can also include an evaporator coil cleaning with a solution to remove dust and dirt and neutralize the acid that causes leaks.

Clean coils transfer heat more efficiently, so the system works more effectively during less time. It also reduces stress on the tubing, which reduces the chances of the refrigerant leaking out.

Cleaning your air ducts regularly also improves your system’s airflow efficiency. All the dust, dirt, pollen, and debris result in obstacles to the airflow inside your home’s or office’s system. Not to mention the increase in the indoor air quality you and your family breathe, thus avoiding potential health and allergy issues by removing the dust and pollen from the ducts before they contaminate the indoor air.

How Can I Prevent Refrigerant From Leaking?

In case you replace your evaporator coil, avoid using the same products that emit VOCs and caused the refrigerant leak. If that is not a choice, you should consider adding a Whole-Home Air Purifying System to filter these VOCs before they enter the HVAC system. Some air purifiers neutralize VOCs with UV light. Allowing fresh air indoors by opening windows dilutes the VOCs presence and may help mitigate the problem.

Regularly cleaning and inspecting your coils are another two ways to maintain the system and reducing leaking risks. In this case, however, avoid taking the DIY route and cleaning the coils by yourself because you could cause more significant damage, which could be costlier to repair. Opening sections of the outdoor unit to locate the coils should be a task performed by experienced professionals.