Skip navigation

24/7 Emergency Service


Serving Montgomery County
and Surrounding Areas


Platinum Plumbing & Heating, Inc. Blog

Low Refrigerant in an AC Is a Big Problem!


The refrigerant in your air conditioner is the substance that absorbs the heat from your home. Without it, you’d have nothing but an overpriced fan.

Although air conditioners are manufactured with all the refrigerant they’ll ever need, sometimes a leak allows refrigerant to escape. Once some refrigerant is lost from your AC system, it can’t function properly, and major issues develop. Here’s what to keep an eye out for.

How Refrigerant Works

Air conditioners work via temperature differential. The compressor, which is housed in the outdoor unit and pressurizes the refrigerant, forces the refrigerant to flow into the evaporator coils of your indoor unit. Because the refrigerant is colder than your indoor air, it soaks up heat, cooling the air—and your home. In the process, it evaporates from a liquid to a gas. This gas flows out to the condenser unit, where it releases the heat and condenses back into a liquid, and the journey through the circuit continues.

The Irreplaceable Compressor

Without a compressor to keep it flowing, the refrigerant will be stuck in place, accomplishing nothing. And because the compressor is such a costly component, if it fails in a middle-aged air conditioner, it’s usually a better option to replace the whole system than to spend a great deal of money on a single component and still have an aging air conditioner that won’t last many more years. Anything you can do to avoid strain on the compressor—annual maintenance, cleaning the air filter, and getting repairs promptly at the first sign of a problem—is a worthwhile investment. 

How Low Refrigerant Affects the Compressor

A refrigerant leak leads to lower levels of refrigerant throughout the system. This means less heat is able to be absorbed, and the air conditioner will have to run more and more of the time to try to keep your home cool enough. If these conditions continue, the compressor will start to overheat from all the exertion, and eventually it will burn out completely. Don’t let this happen! If you’re concerned that you may have a refrigerant leak, get air conditioning repair in Collegeville, PA right away.

Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant escaping from damaged or deteriorated coils can make a hissing or bubbling sound. You may smell the refrigerant itself: a sweet, chemical smell. You may notice that your air conditioner is running more of the time, or that your home isn’t able to get to the temperature you desire. And ice can develop along the evaporator coils of the indoor unit. This is because the low pressure inside the coils causes them to freeze.

As ice builds up, it will make the problem worse, acting as insulation that further prevents the remaining refrigerant from absorbing heat. With prompt attention, the leak can be detected and sealed, and the refrigerant can be refilled. Your home will get back to your ideal temperature, and your compressor won’t be compromised.

Contact Platinum Plumbing & Heating, Inc. today to schedule an appointment with our pros.

Comments are closed.