Refrigerant leaks can develop on any air conditioning system, even well-maintained ones from reliable brands. These leaks can also vary in severity from relatively minor problems to issues that require you to replace significant (and costly) components. If you want to understand a little more about your AC system and the difficulties you may someday face, refrigerant leaks are an excellent place to start.
While leaks can technically occur anywhere in the refrigerant loop, there are a few familiar sources. This article will discuss three common locations and why leaks often develop in these spots.
1. Evaporator Coil Joint Leaks
Your air conditioner's evaporator coil is ground zero for cooling your home. As the cold refrigerant passes through the coil, it absorbs heat from inside your home. The blower motor then pushes this much cooler air throughout your house, keeping you cool and comfortable. Since the evaporator consists of many tiny tubes running through an aluminum fin assembly, it's a common source of leaks.
One area where these units can often leak is the joints on the return side of the compressor. These brazed copper joints can leak for various reasons, including poor manufacturing practices or physical wear from vibrations. Depending on the severity of the leak, your technician may be able to braze the joint and stop the leak without replacing the evaporator coil.
2. Distributor Tube Leaks
Distributor tubes exist on the opposite end of an evaporator with more than one refrigerant pathway or circuit. Distributor tubes are the last mile before the evaporator, and they ensure that the entire coil fills equally with refrigerant. These tubes are typically copper, and they are very small and fragile compared to many other parts of the refrigerant loop.
As with joint leaks on the return side, the correct approach to fix a distributor tubing leak will depend on its severity. Large leaks or cracks may require you to replace your entire evaporator, especially if the rest of the unit is in poor shape. For more minor leaks, your technician may be able to repair the existing tube by brazing in a small section of copper pipe.
3. Filter Drier Corrosion
Any moisture in your AC's refrigerant system can potentially reduce the system's performance and cause severe damage to other components. The filter drier works by catching access moisture and keeping this from occurring. Unfortunately, the filter drier housing may rust, especially when located in an area exposed to the elements.
If your filter drier is leaking, the best repair option is to replace the entire unit. Filter driers are relatively inexpensive components, and a skilled technician can replace one quickly, making this one of the cheaper and easier refrigerant leaks to address. To learn more, contact an air conditioner repair service.