While everyone loves vibrant summery evenings in Singapore, the idea of hot and humid air making its way into our air-conditioned apartments makes most of us shudder. After a long and tiring day, all one wants is a night of comfortable sleep in their temperature-regulated room.
Air conditioning units use R22 or freon coolants. The latest models use a refrigerant called R410-A. All of these coolants are chlorofluorocarbons that pose several dangers to human life. Therefore, they must be disposed of very carefully. If your aircon isn’t cooling your room as well as it used to or if your evaporator coils are suddenly covered in ice, it’s most likely because your aircon’s gas is leaking.
The problem of aircon leakage can cause irreversible damage to your machine’s compressor. Moreover, it will most certainly significantly increase your overall electricity consumption. However, the most significant problem associated with gas leakage is that the gas released poses a substantial danger to human health. The coolant leaking from an aircon rapidly evaporates into a gas. This gas is lethal and can cause nausea, and in some cases, even asphyxiation. The leaked gas can also lead to skin irritation and dryness as well as increased heart rate. Continued exposure to this gas can lead to life-threatening medical conditions. Moreover, sometimes, this gas gets mixed with underground sources of water and poses a danger to the uncountable lives that depend on these sources. It is, thus, important that homeowners and commercial property owners in Singapore are advised to act in haste when faced with the problem of leaking gas in aircon units.
What Causes Air Con Gas Leakage?
This leaking problem is not rare for homeowners in Singapore. Several different factors can trigger leaking. Here are some of the primary causes:
- Corrosion is a common cause: The problem of corrosion has ailed the HVAC industry for years now. It is difficult, though not impossible, to safeguard homes and industrial appliances against corrosion. Pitting corrosion is the most common kind of corrosion that affects aircon units and leads to such leaks. Pitting corrosion is caused by continued exposure to fluorides present in municipal water supplies and the chloride present in detergents and cleaning chemicals. The chloride and fluoride ions attack the coil, causing it to leak refrigerant. Formicary corrosion is another kind of corrosion responsible for aircon leakage. This type of corrosion is triggered by continued exposure to acetic or formic acids found in cleaning solvents, paints, plywood, etc.
- Mechanical damage to refrigerant lines can cause aircons to leak gas: All aircon units create the cooling effect by moving refrigerant between the outdoor condenser coil and the indoor evaporator coil. Refrigerant lines made from cooper do the critical task of moving the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser. Any mechanical damage to these refrigerant lines can cause an aircon to leak. Refrigerant lines passing through the exterior house wall are especially susceptible to mechanical damage.
- A malfunctioning Schrader Valve could be the real culprit: Another common cause is a malfunctioning Schrader valve. Sometimes, the seal covering the valve gets damaged, which leads to refrigerant gas problems.
- Leaky connections around control valves are another common cause: Sometimes, leaky links around control valves are the main culprit behind an this issue. This problem can be generally avoided by making sure the valve is attached correctly and is thoroughly cleaned.
- Poorly soldered controls of fittings can also be the culprit: Soldering issues are not uncommon in the industry. A cold joint, caused by an improperly melted solder, can easily lead to aircon leaks. Similarly, a disturbed joint or an overheated joint can lead to a wrongly fixed joint, which, in turn, can cause gas to leak from an air conditioning unit.
What Are Some of the Dangers Posed by Gas Leaks in an Aircon
The gas leaking from an aircon is not just harmful to the health of your machine, but also negatively affects various forms of life on Earth. Here are some of the dangers and health hazards posed by such leaks.
- It is hazardous to human health: A gas-leaking aircon can pose several health hazards to humans. Headache and nausea are common problems caused by leaking aircon units. CFCs readily absorb heat, and thus, prolonged exposure to pressurized CFC can also cause frostbite. While short-term exposure to the gas can lead to problems such as skin cracking, reduced coordination, tremors, convulsions, and increased heart rate; continued exposure to the gas can lead to a person developing critical medical conditions, such as shortness of breath, unconsciousness, cataracts, skin cancer, etc. The problem of these leaks has also been responsible for cases of asphyxiation in the past.
- They can damage your aircon: Aircon leaks are a main culprit capable of increasing your electricity bill by a significant amount. According to several studies, a leaking aircon consumes almost 20% more electricity. Moreover, continually using an aircon even after it has developed a leak can put excessive pressure on the compressor, causing the compressor to ultimately break. Since the cost of replacing a compressor is much higher than the cost of repairing a leaking aircon, it is a better idea to deal with the problem immediately.
- It can pose a danger to various forms of life: The coolant leaking from an aircon is often the prime culprit behind this problem. All units use chlorofluorocarbons as coolants. CFCs must be disposed of correctly as they rapidly evaporate into a gas. Moreover, they can be absorbed by the Earth. Thus, the coolant leaking from a unit easily penetrates the soil, from where it passes into various sources of underground water. Since plants, animals, humans, and several microorganisms, directly or indirectly, depend on these sources of water, a leaking aircon is a threat to the various forms of life on Earth.
How to Check If Your Aircon Is Leaking Gas?
The signs that indicate this problem are quite easily detectable. Here are some of the standard methods used by homeowners around the world and aircon owners in Singapore to check for gas leaks.
- Check for the smell of the gas: If you think your aircon isn’t cooling properly due to leaks, the first thing you must do is check for the smell of the substance. This substance leaking from the unit is slightly pungent-smelling and, thus, easy to detect. Unfortunately, the leaks are not always inside a room. It becomes too difficult to trace the problem if the leakage is happening outside, where the fresh air damps the smell of the gas. In such a case, your best bet is to invite an expert and ask them to do a thorough check.
- Check refrigerant and cooling pipes for stains: Another way to detect an aircon leak is to check the refrigeration and cooling pipes for stains. If your aircon pipes are stained, chances are your unit is affected by this problem. Apart from this, homeowners must also regularly check for oil leakages. If you notice any stains or oil leakages in refrigerant and cooling pipes, call an expert immediately.
- Listen for any humming noise near the thermostat pipe: Aircon units have a thermostatic expansion valve that makes a humming noise if leaking. Unfortunately, it is impossible to notice this sound with all the background noise inside a room. Thus, make sure to switch off everything and try listening to any sound coming from the valve. If you hear a sound, it’s time to call an expert technician and get your aircon checked.
- Flame burner tests are quite helpful: This is one of the most sure-shot ways to check if your aircon is leaking. However, one must be extra careful while performing a flame burner test. There are unique portable flame burners available in the market for this test; use one of those. Move the portable flame burner along the length of the aircon coolant pipe. In case of leakage, the flame of the portable flame burner will immediately change its color to greenish-blue from green.
- Use a liquid tracer: This is another method to know if your aircon is leaking. Currently, there are many different kinds of specialized liquid tracers available in the market that can detect aircon gases. All liquid tracers use a fluorescent dye, and thus, their appearances vary. Liquid tracers are quite easy to use and can help you analyze the health of your aircon in only a few seconds.
When Dealing with Hazardous Leaks in Your Aircon, Trust the Servicing Experts
A leaking aircon is a problem that must not be ignored for too long. The chlorofluorocarbons and gases leaking from the unit can cause irreparable damage to not just your aircon, but also your health as well and the environment. Moreover, taking care of leaks and fixing them immediately via an aircon servicing repair is vastly more cost-effective than replacing a damaged machine.
In this article, we have discussed about the various ways to check if an aircon is leaking gas. If you are sure that you are experiencing such issues, we recommend calling an expert to repair this issue immediately. While one can check for a gas leak on their own, repairing a leaking aircon is a job best left to the experts. The process of repairing leaks involve inspecting the unit and accurately finding the leaking spot. This essential aircon servicing repair, when done right, will add new life to your machine.