Air conditioning systems are important fixtures in homes and offices. It is important to understand that checking for leaks in air conditioning systems is vital to performance. A leak in your air conditioning system can affect the circulation of air, or cause you to have none. It can also result in a health problem when it is a gas leak.
A cost-effective way to find leaks in your air conditioning system is through the use of the soap test. You can also employ a UV light, an electronic detection device, a dye test, or an oil test. In this article, we teach you how to find a leak in your air conditioning system. You will also learn its causes, as well as preventive measures to protect yourself and the machine.
Checking for Leaks in Air Conditioning Systems in Your Home or Office
As stated earlier, there are different methods of checking for leaks in air conditioning systems. These include the soap test, using a UV light, the electronic detection device, and a couple of others. Firstly, however, we must consider the different types of leaks that you might experience with your AC system. This will bolster your understanding of how to find leaks in your AC system and the type of leak in particular. So, here you go:
Different Types of Leaks in an Air Conditioning System
Indoor water leak: An evaporator coil is responsible for cooling the warm air in your AC. As it does this, it collects the resulting moisture on itself. This moisture or condensation is dispensed into a drain pan. From here, it flows down a drain to the outside of your home. An indoor leak is created where the drain line is clogged with foreign material. This might be mold, dirt, or other elements that prevent water flow.
Another reason for an indoor water leak is a fault in your drain pipe. If the pipe is broken, the corresponding result is a leak into your home. Other causes of this type of leak are a broken or rusty drain pan, a dirty air filter, and a low refrigerant.
Outdoor water leak: An outdoor water leak could be either normal or out of the ordinary. On the normal end, your outdoor unit may leak water during unusually hot or cold water. This can cause an increase in condensation, thus creating a puddle around your AC. There is no reason to fear, except the leak persists for more than 24 hours to a few days. In that case, contact your AC technician for maintenance and repair in such a situation.
Contrary to this are other scenarios similar to those in an indoor water leak. These include dirty air filters, improper installation, faulty drainpipe, or a broken condensate pan.
Refrigerant leak: One usual sign of a refrigerant leak is a rise or fall in indoor temperature levels. You might notice ice collecting on your evaporator coil or the presence of heat in your cool space. Added to this is the escape of hissing sounds from your unit. Consequently, you get a higher spend on utility bills.
A refrigerant leak can harm not only the machine but also the occupants. Freon, used in ACs as a refrigerant, can create a potential health hazard. It is a toxic substance, which, when inhaled, threatens a person's wellness.
Finding a Leak in Your Air Conditioning System
Learning how to find a leak in your air conditioning system involves knowing the right ways to go about it. Based on the above, the five methods we will recommend are applicable to refrigerant leaks. This is because the faulty area is often not as noticeable as the other two.
Soap test: The soap bubble test is an alternative way of running checks on your own. To start, prepare some warm water which you will mix with soap. Do the mixing for a number of minutes. Before applying the solution, ensure that the area you are testing is protected from the wind. Once you have done this, apply the contents to the suspected area.
You can use a spray to access hard-to-reach spots on the AC. After application, you should notice a convergence of bubbles on a leaking part. If this does not occur, there is no leak, and you can proceed to a new spot. Be careful as you conduct this process to avoid causing further problems. Also, ensure that you wipe the area dry after you have tested it.
If you are unsure about checking for leaks in air conditioning systems during this test, we recommend calling a professional to run checks for you.
UV Light: Using a UV light is another way to detect the location of a refrigerant leak. Usually, when there is an escape of this nature from the AC, what follows is the appearance of lubrication oil. Your refrigerant comes in a thorough mix with lubrication oil. The oil, in turn, is fused with an ultraviolet quality. It is this UV aspect of the mix that is detected easily by a UV light.
The light will reflect the presence of an ultraviolet quality that human eyes cannot see, revealing it to us. To do it successfully, block external light from entering the test area. Point your UV light at the concerned area and search for a fluorescent symbol. A UV light is quite cheap to obtain, so the price is not a worry.
Electronic detection device: Using the electronic device is actually a very precise way of locating leakages. The device sounds an alarm once it senses a leaky spot. You can also use it outside your home. The detection device is also known as a halogen leak detector. Like the UV light, the device senses halogen gases, chlorine, and fluorine, which are used in ACs.
When testing, ensure that the unit is on and shielded from the air. Scan the test area by passing the device close to it. If it finds a leak, it will provide audiovisual signals. However, the problem with this device is that it can be expensive to acquire. You may also need to get some training to use it properly. This is unlike the preceding methods on this list.
Dye test: A dye test entails the application of fluorescent dye into an AC system; the dye spreads and penetrates the holes in the machine. Once this happens, scan the unit with a lamp, noting the places where the dye poured out. Using the dye test does require not only skill but also money.
Oil test: The oil test is another option to explore when checking for leaks in air conditioning systems It is also one that barely costs you money. When the telltale signs of an air conditioning leak appear, you can either wear protective gloves or use a light-colored towel to feel around the system. As an AC leak is often accompanied by the appearance of lubrication oil, the material will get stained. If a spot produces more oil than should be normal, then there is likely a leak.
Be careful not to use your bare hands in trying this method because there is a potential for frostbite.
Causes of Leaks in Your Air Conditioning System
An air conditioner leak can be caused by various factors. Understanding each one will help in maintenance and repair work.
Corrosion: Your AC system contains metal parts which include copper. These copper components can end up being corroded, creating holes. As the holes appear, the tube walls, which are made of copper, become weak and cause a leak.
Factory defects: Your AC system may also be faced with a factory problem. This could be an error in assembly, poor handling, or even missing components. These are potential causes for an air conditioner leak.
Wear and tear: The age of your unit can also play a big role in the faults it develops. Aging causes various components to collapse within the system. This reflects in many ways, including leaking.
How to Prevent a Leak in Your AC
Here are some ways to prevent air conditioning leaks and avoid extensive repair works.
Air filters: An air filter is essential to enabling proper circulation of air in your living space. In order for it to do that, it has to be very clean. In cases where the filter is clogged with dirt, you can remove it for cleaning. Another option to maintain top-gear performance is to replace the filter completely. Filter checks should be done every thirty days.
Clear the area around the AC: For the outer unit to also run at its best, you should ensure that the area surrounding it is not filled with debris or blocking material. Trees and shrubbery should also be at a reasonable distance from the AC unit.
Drain line: The sanitary level of your AC drain pipe will determine whether you might experience a leak or not in that sector. To find your drain line, look for a PVC pipe that is placed close to the outdoor component. You will find it attached to the wall. You can clean it out by checking its opening, which is sealed with a cap.
Vinegar is a staple for cleaning out the line during this task. Measure a ¼ cup of vinegar, a distilled one, and apply it on the unsealed line. Vinegar is great for removing dirt that is clogged in the pipe. You should allow it to remain for about half an hour, then flush afterwards. Vinegar prevents the growth of mildew, algae, or mold in the line. It is important to do this process every month.
Where it is already clogged, though, you will need to remove a special pump or wet-dry vacuum to clean it up.
Drain Pan: One of the biggest effects an indoor air conditioner leak can have on your house is the formation of puddles that subsequently flow. The water can spread around walls, affect furniture, and stain floors. In some systems, a shutdown happens when a pan overflow is detected; in others, it doesn't. The pan is the part of the air conditioner that collects water then passes it on through the PVC drain line.
You can fix minor damage such as small holes with epoxy glue. When it comes to bigger issues, however, it is best to reach a professional.
Reach Out To Us Today in Boca Raton, FL!
Air conditioning systems can be affected by different problems; refrigerant leaks are most common. While checking for leaks in air conditioning system is an important skill to have, some of these problems must be left to professionals.
You may complicate the problem even more if you do some air con repairs yourself. Also, getting a professional handler is ideal when you are uncertain. Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Restoration experts are 24/7 service ready to conduct your air con repairs. Reach out today or place a call directly (561) 279-6062