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What Causes Refrigerant Leaks in an Air Conditioner?

What Causes Refrigerant Leaks in an Air Conditioner?

Refrigerant leaks in AC units are common yet highly frustrating. You want your AC unit to blow cool air when you need it most, but you never know the next time it’s going to freeze up and stop working. So, what causes refrigerant leaks in an air conditioner, and how can you resolve these issues?

At Moreau’s Thermal Services, we offer reliable AC repairs in Mandeville, LA. Below, our expert technicians discuss what causes AC refrigerant leaks so that you can prevent issues from occurring and resolve them when they do. Read on to learn whether your air conditioner may have a refrigerant leak to repair the issue before it worsens. 

What Causes AC Refrigerant Leaks?

Most air conditioner units contain a refrigerant circuit made of copper tubing or a similar material. The circuit contains numerous looped coils soldered together containing the refrigerant. The refrigerant moves through the coil at high pressures and speeds to cool your home’s air. 

The refrigerant components are critical in your air conditioner’s operations. When your refrigerant leaks, you may notice a range of signs, including the following:

· Poor airflow coming from your vents

· Improper cooling

· Warm air blowing from vents

· Suddenly high energy bills

· Frozen condensation on the evaporator coils 

· Unusually loud operating sounds

· High indoor humidity

· Condensation forming around the unit

Whether you have a frozen evaporator coil or your home doesn’t feel as cool as it should, the refrigerant may be the culprit. So, what causes refrigerant leaks in an air conditioner? 

General Wear and Tear

Air conditioners wear down over time, like any other HVAC system component. After months of running at full capacity to keep your home cool during the summer, your AC unit may sustain wear and tear that can cause the refrigerant to leak. For example, seams and valves connecting the circuit tubing may wear down, leading to small pinhole leaks where the refrigerant can seep through.

Most air conditioners last between 10 and 15 years. If your unit reaches this age, you can expect to regularly see signs of wear and tear. You may avoid such issues by scheduling AC maintenance before summer rolls around. 


Refrigerant circuits use copper piping, which can rust over time as formic acid builds up, creating small, bubbling leaks. Corrosion typically occurs in much older units that should be replaced soon anyway. Formic acid-related leaks can create a safety concern, so you should contact a professional as soon as possible for repairing air conditioner units with refrigerant leaks.

Improper Installation

If you recently installed a new air conditioner, and it’s already leaking, the contractor who installed the system may be to blame. Air conditioners and other HVAC systems typically require expert installation because of all the complex parts that require careful positioning. When an inexperienced contractor doesn’t install an air conditioner correctly, they may tighten the coils too much or not connect certain valves correctly, causing leaks down the line. 

You should only hire a certified, licensed, and experienced technician to install your air conditioner. If you think an improper installation caused your leak, you may be able to contact the company if you’re within their warranty period, or you may want to seek repairs from a more qualified team. 

Defective Equipment 

In some cases, a poor AC installation may result from defective equipment. Factory defects can cause your unit to have refrigerant leaks and other issues. Because of this risk, you should only purchase air conditioners with manufacturer warranties.

Do You Have Leak? Call Moreau’s Thermal Services Today

So, what causes refrigerant leaks in an air conditioner? Wear and tear, corrosion, improper installation, and faulty equipment can all cause your AC to leak. Now, view our guide on common AC problems, then contact Moreau’s Thermal Services at (985) 781-6333 if you need AC repairs from our expert technicians. 

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