As a homeowner, you will want your home air conditioning system to operate as efficiently as possible. If it doesn't, you're just wasting money every time you turn it on. There are many things you have to consider when trying to maintain your system at peak efficiency, from how much insulation you have in your attic to how well sealed your ducts are. One thing that can very seriously affect your system's efficiency is if your refrigerant is leaking. If you are suspicious that you have a leak in your air conditioning system, there are several things you can look for.
Refrigerant Pressure Is Low
This is the most obvious indicator. If your refrigerant pressure has been dropping rapidly, it points to a leak somewhere. For any air conditioning system to work correctly, it has to be fully topped off with refrigerant.
You Have Iced-up Pipes
One possible clue that you might have a refrigerant leak is if you see the air conditioning pipes at the evaporator coil or outside your house starting to ice over. This isn't a definitive indicator though, since obstructions in your returns and air vents can also cause this to happen.
Your Air Conditioner Is Not Cooling Effectively
Over time, even a very small refrigerant leak in your system can result in a decrease in the effectiveness of your air conditioner. Unless the leak is very large, it might happen so gradually that you hardly notice it at first. But if your system is running longer with less and less results, while your electricity bills are soaring, this can point to the possibility of a refrigerant leak.
You Notice Dark Spots
It may be possible to actually see the leak at the coils or wherever it's coming out. This is because R22 refrigerants have oil added to them. As a result, areas that are leaking might have a dark, greasy stain on them that you can see if you look closely and know what you're looking for.
If you see any of the above indicators, you should call in a professional such as Harrell Home Services to solve the problem. Even if you added more refrigerant (which is becoming problematical with the recent regulatory changes to the types of refrigerants that can be used), this doesn't solve the problem. Unless the leak itself is permanently repaired, any additional refrigerant will simply leak out, and you'll be back where you started.