What Causes an Air Conditioner Freon Leak?


In the past, having a Freon leak in your air conditioner wouldn’t be such a big deal as you could simply top-it-off and wait Frank and Truck Photountil it leaked again. But that was way before the prices of R-22 Freon prices soared sky-high. At around $75.00-$100.00 a pound of R-22 and the average fill up being around 2-5 lbs.… topping-off an air conditioner with a Freon leak is a very expensive option.

What causes an Air Conditioner Freon Leak?

There are several things that can cause an air conditioner leak in your system, here are the most common:

Bad installation job:

If you have a newer AC unit and it has a leak, one can possibly suspect that the cause is a bad installation job. People spend a lot of time finding the best price on a new air conditioning unit but fail to realize that what is just as important is who is installing your unit and if they do a good job.  Incomplete brazing on the joints can leave pinhole leaks which lead to very slow leaks and may not be noticed within the first year or up to 5 years after installation. Best advice is to hire the right company to install your unit, not just the cheapest.

Factory defects:

Just as discussed with the bad installation job – there are times where there may be a factory part defect. In the manufacturing process there may have been an incomplete weld or punctures that may have happened in the packing or shipping process.

Formic acid:

Formic acid is a naturally occurring acid comes from the ground and can etch the copper coil that can cause microscopic cracks in the copper. These leaks get worse over time and increasingly require more Freon.

An accidental puncture:

With the units pipes located close to walls and other home structures, something as harmless as hanging a picture or hammering nails into the wall can puncture the line set. We have seen this happen and it was not pretty.

How we find a Freon Leak:

When we suspect a Freon leak in an air conditioning system, the first step we take is to use an electronic leak detector to determine the general location of the leak. When found, we use a leak detection mixture which bubble up on the leak site.

There are several options if a Freon leak is found. First, the cheapest and easiest way is for us to do a leak seal treatment. This is a great option if your unit is between 7-12 years old. The other option is to replace the leaky component especially while the product is still under warranty.  If your system is completely empty, then there may be hidden damage in the rest of the system and those damages will not be readily identifiable until the unit is charged and running again. When we find an empty system or a dead compressor, we cannot guarantee the first repair will solve all your problems, so it is recommended to consider the option of a system replacement.

If you reside in the Raleigh, NC triangle, Cary, Holly Springs, Apex or surrounding areas and you have a Freon leak, ask us about our Leak Seal Treatment Special. Call (919) 886-4822



About Author

Frank Alexander is an experienced engineering professional who holds a Master of Engineering degree from North Carolina State University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.

Comments are closed.