Dangers of AC Refrigerant Leaks

Learn about the dangers of AC refrigerant leaks and how they can impact your health. Trust Sandium for expert solutions and reliable services.

Updated on Oct 22, 2023
5 min read
Dangers of AC Refrigerant Leaks

It is important to keep up with an air conditioner’s maintenance and repair schedule. You may end up with far worse consequences than frequent repair costs or an uncomfortably warm space if you fail to practice proper maintenance. You may be looking at a refrigerant leak. This can place the entire Bay Area household at serious risk.

What is a Refrigerant Leak?

Refrigerant is a chemical blend that cycles through the system and continuously changes from liquid to gas and back. It is responsible for absorbing heat from the air circulated within the evaporator coil and releasing it outdoors through the compressor. R-22 or R-410a refrigerant is used in most systems for cooling homes in an efficient and effective manner.

However, cracks, leaks or other issues in the refrigerant line can lead to a loss of refrigerant. This can result in several problems. Your system may not cool as efficiently and may struggle to adequately produce air conditioning. Your indoor space may not reach the desired set temperature. Refrigerant leak causes a system to work harder and increases monthly energy bills.

An unrepaired leak may require continuous charging of the unit as well. You may end up spending more than you expected on cooling costs during the summer months.

Release of Toxic Chemicals

Refrigerant contains a wide array of toxic chemicals. These don’t pose a safety threat when safely ensconced within the copper coils of an air conditioner. Stemming from this, the indoor air quality within your home will be negatively impacted if the line develops a crack and starts to leak.

Refrigerants cause a range of negative health issues when inhaled. The symptoms can be minor to severe as per the duration and level of exposure. Unfortunately, the gas is both colorless and tasteless. This means that it can be challenging to detect a refrigerant leak.

You should keep an eye out for common signs of refrigerant leaks to prevent it from going unnoticed.

Potential Health Impacts

Refrigerants contain toxic chemicals that can have numerous health impacts if inhaled. This is particularly true for the respiratory system. These are a few common health impacts of breathing refrigerants:

  • Labored breathing
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • The buildup of fluid in the lungs
  • Mental fatigue
  • Skin, throat, and eye irritation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

In certain cases, the dangers of refrigerant leaks can be potentially life-threatening. You should get your unit inspected by a professional HVAC contractor if you suffer any health impacts.

Is Your Refrigerant Leaking?

You can repair the line sets and restore your AC system back to a functional and efficient state by knowing the signs of refrigerant leaks. The most common sign will be noticeable near the vents. The refrigerant may be leaking if you feel warm air moving through the vents even when the AC is on. The leak may not be allowing the system to effectively cool air.

You may notice a light hissing sound if there are cracks or holes in the refrigerant line sets. Escaping refrigerant will make a hissing sound. The sound will be most noticeable within your home where you have an indoor unit. The hissing sound should be audible near the exterior unit as well. You should immediately have a trained and licensed HVAC contractor check the unit if you notice signs of a refrigerant leak.

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