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The Problem with Coil Leaks in ACs and Heat Pumps

One of the most common repair issues that an air conditioner or heat pump might encounter during its lifetime is a leak in the refrigerant coils. The indoor coil of your AC/heat pump is one of the most important components of the system: it’s the location where an air conditioner removes heat from the air by evaporating the refrigerant within the coil. The coil does the same function in heat pumps when in cooling mode, and when in heating mode the coil releases heat by condensing the refrigerant inside it.

What happens when a coil starts to leak refrigerant?

Loss of refrigerant means a drop in heating/cooling power for the system. But it also causes catastrophic damage to components. The reason for this is that an AC/heat pump is designed to operate using a specific amount of refrigerant (known as the system’s charge). Loss of this refrigerant means changes in pressure throughout the system that can lead to the failure of the compressor. A broken compressor often means that the whole system must be replaced, so you need to avoid this issue if at all possible.

Why do coil leaks start?

One cause of loss of refrigerant from a coil is defective welds and loose connections, but these usually emerge soon after installation. Most of the time, the problem is deterioration of the copper tubing of the coils, which often sets in between a 5–10 year period. The culprit often behind the decay of the copper is corrosion from formaldehyde in the air. Higher efficiency ACs are more prone to this problem because they have much thinner copper tubes to help them with faster heat exchange.

At the first indication of a loss of heating or cooling power from your system, call for professional repairs. Other signs to look for that can warn of a coil leak include hissing sounds from the cabinets or ice appearing along the indoor coil.

Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical is now offering a discount on AC and heating repair. Don’t hesitate when it’s time to fix your home cooling/heating. We serve Sherman Oaks, CA as well as the rest of the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley areas.

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