Is Your HVAC System Leaking? Here’s What to Do
When people hear about something leaking, they usually assume it’s a plumbing issue. However, most heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems are fluid-based. This means that they rely on liquid refrigerant being pumped through pipes. If there is a leak in one of those pipes, the refrigerant leaks as a gas, making it very difficult to spot.
HVAC systems can also leak oil or water. A small amount of water or oil may drip from your HVAC system, which can be completely normal. However, large-scale leaks are usually a symptom of a bigger problem and should be checked by an HVAC technician.
Common Causes for HVAC System Leaks
HVAC systems need to maintain a closed-loop for them to function properly. When refrigerant leaks from the system, it leaks as a gas which can make it difficult to see. Because refrigerant is mixed with oil to lubricate the compressor, one common sign of a refrigerant leak is oily residue.
An increased electricity bill is another common sign of leaking refrigerant because the system has to work harder and is less efficient. Major oil leaks can be a sign of a faulty compressor. HVAC systems can also leak water if there is a problem with the ventilation of condensed air. Leaking water can corrode the system, so it is important to get any leaks checked by an HVAC professional as soon as possible.
How Technicians Fix HVAC Leaks
If there is a suspected leak, an HVAC technician will first check parts of the system where leaks are most likely. These include Schrader ports, flare connections, and other areas where the system may not be completely air-tight. If a refrigerant leak proves elusive, HVAC technicians can inject ultraviolet dye into the system to find the leak, or they can use an electronic leak detector.
Depending on the location of the leak, they can be fixed by using oxyacetylene and silver soldering the area that is leaking. Leaking parts may have to be replaced, or if the system itself is very old it may be more cost-effective to replace the entire system.
How to Prevent HVAC Leaks
Catching any potential problems early can save money and prevent small problems from escalating. Replacing old pipes or parts on a regular basis can also help prevent leaks. There are also leak stop agents that can stop or prevent refrigerant leaks. These chemicals are put into the system and solidify if they come in contact with air.
This means that if there are any small leaks in the “closed-loop” system, the leak stop agent will plug it up automatically. The drawback to using these chemicals is that some of them aren’t approved by compressor manufacturers, so using them could void the warranty on your system.
About Air Comfort Service, Inc.
Air Comfort Service, Inc. is a full-service contractor specializing in fast and accurate heating and cooling solutions. They have HVAC services in the St. Louis area and offer a complete array of service options, including new or replacement equipment, maintenance, controls, and ventilation.
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