Small issues such as HVAC leaks are easy to miss and can cause many problems if not attended to at the right time.
If you want to prevent this small issue from becoming big trouble, it’s better to understand how the HVAC system runs.
How does the HVAC system work?
Most standard heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems are fluid-based heat exchangers. A compressor compresses refrigerant, then allowed to condense in a series of spiral pipes called a condenser, releasing its absorbed heat to the atmosphere outside your building. A fan blows over the condenser. After the condenser, the gas is allowed to evaporate in another series of tubes inside the building called the evaporator. As it does this, the compressed gas expands and cools the surrounding air. A fan blowing over the evaporator provides the source of cool air that you feel from the HVAC duct. After the evaporator, the gas is dried out by a receiver/dryer unit and then passes through the compressor to begin the cycle again.
In conclusion, you can see that the correct functioning of an HVAC system mainly depends on the availability of the refrigerant. It has to be inside the system all the time so it can not escape from anywhere. And that is why an HVAC system is called a closed-loop.
So there are multiple places this refrigerant can leak out, right?
Since the refrigerant leaks as a gas, it is hard to spot a leak, but there are some ways to diagnose it.
Yeah, your bill. If it goes up abnormally, Ops! You seem to have issues.
For an HVAC system to function optimally, it needs to be charged with the specified mass of refrigerant.
Most energy in the system uses by the compressors. The gradual leaks reduce system efficiency, and it means the compressor must work harder to maintain the temperature. All of this leads to higher bills.
The refrigerant contains oil for lubricating the compressor. So oil leaking can happen, and when it happens, you can spot oil that tends to attract dust.
In this situation system works but doesn’t cool or cool so weakly.
You may find out your system cannot reach the set temperature that is a sign of leaking. A little oil/grass leaking from the fans is typical, but if it’s too much, it shows that you should call an expert and wait for them to repair it!
The last common HVAC leak is water. The gas evaporates, it cools the nearby air beyond the dew point, and so condensation occurs. Usually, this water drips into a pan beneath the evaporator, and by gravity, it runs to the outside of your building via a pipe. So, if there is a pipe next to the outdoor unit that drips water, this is perfectly normal. However, if the indoor unit or the ducts suddenly start leaking water, it means that there is a problem with the system, and it’s best to get it checked – water.
In the end, leaking is not just an annoying issue; it can cause distressing problems. So, in any case, if you find out any leaking, it’s better to check it immediately and contact a wise expert.