Dealing With An AC Refrigerant Leak


Your air conditioner (AC) uses simple heat exchange technology to cool your home. The refrigerant picks up heat in the house and dumps it outside. As such, your AC's cooling efficiency will plummet if it leaks refrigerant. Below is a general guide of what you can do to deal with a refrigerant leak.

Locate the Leak

The first step is to identify the area that is leaking. Below are some of the techniques that technicians use for the diagnosis.

Dye Test

The technician adds an ultraviolet (UV) dye to the system. The AC's lubricating chemical takes the dye to all parts of the AC. The technician then uses a UV detector to spot the leaking areas.

Nitrogen Leak Test

For the nitrogen test, the AC technician removes refrigerant from the system first. Next, the technician pumps pressured nitrogen (sometimes mixed with soap bubbles) to the system. The pressured nitrogen will flow out of the damaged parts of the system — the parts responsible for the refrigerant leaks.

Electronic Leak Test

The electronic leak test involves the use of a refrigerant detector to spot the leaks. The AC technician uses a handheld refrigerant detector to scan the AC system. The detector spots areas with refrigerant outside the system.

Plug the Leak

Once you discover the leak, the next step is to plug it to prevent further refrigerant loss. You can do this in two main ways.

Seal the Leak

One option is to use a sealant or solder to seal the leak. This option works best for small leaks on relatively new systems without other problems.

Replace the Damaged Part

For a relatively large leak, your best action is to replace the damaged part. For example, if the AC coil is leaking refrigerant, then you should replace the entire coil. Otherwise, you might plug a leak only to have another one pop up near the plugged one a few months down the line.

Recharge the AC

Once you have plugged the leak, you need to replace the refrigerant that the system had lost before the repair. Remember that operating an AC with low refrigerant is energy-efficient, increases the AC's wear and tear, and can trigger impaired cooling. Ensure a licensed technician recharges the system so that you use the right refrigerant. 

A refrigerant leak is one of those critical AC issues that you shouldn't handle as a DIY repair. Consult a professional technician to diagnose and plug the leak. Find a professional at a site like


28 April 2020

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