In the past, we’ve talked about how you can tell your air conditioner is leaking and the different signs that indicate you’ve got a refrigerant drip. Now, we want to let you know even more about what to do if your AC is leaking – it’s not always as easy as a DIY fix!
If you are a homeowner and you notice that your air conditioner is freezing up – then that’s a good indication that you’ve sprung a refrigerant leak. You may also notice a wet, oily stain – that’s likely the point of the leak, because the refrigerant circulates with a lubricating oil and can create that wet, oily puddle.
So, what steps should a homeowner do next? Can you fix it yourself or do you need to call in a pro? Our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, says when it comes to AC leaks – they always require a pro.
So, as a homeowner, that should be your first and only step when dealing with a leak – call a pro. Here are three reasons why.
It’s The Law
Keith says the first reason an AC leak requires a professional is that federal law requires it.
“It requires special tools and special skills to repair the leak and recharge the unit – and it may be dangerous,” he says. “The passage of the Clean Air Act in 1973, which was meant to reduce the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere, led to a federal law that requires only EPA certified technicians are allowed to install or repair appliances with refrigerant in them.”
That means when hiring a company to fix the leak you need to make sure the technician has all the right certifications before coming to you home to make the repair.
According to the Department of Energy, “a trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant.”
You Need Special Tools And Skills To Work With Refrigerant
Another reason you need professional help is because working on refrigeration systems -- like air conditioners -- requires specialized tools, skills, and test equipment. Most homeowners, unless they’re HVAC professionals themselves, don’t have these tools or equipment in the garage.
“In many cases, refrigerant recovery equipment will be required, and almost always, the system will require a dehydration process including installation of a filter drier and use of a vacuum pump to completely clean the system of any air and moisture that may have entered the system through the leak or when the system was opened up to make repairs,” he says.
It Can Be Dangerous
Finally, you don’t want to attempt to fix an AC leak yourself, because it could be very dangerous to your health. It’s not worth the risk to save a few dollars.
“Air conditioning systems use high-pressure liquids and vapors that can cause severe frost burns,” says Keith, “and there are other dangers such as asphyxiation if refrigerant is released indoors. This is definitely not for DIY.”
In conclusion: call a pro, get it done right, and don’t put yourself at risk. You’ll be happy you did when you are safe and sound in your nicely air conditioned home.