Refrigerant leaks can be dangerous for both your health and the environment.
Freon leaks can also impact the proper functioning of your HVAC system, affecting your home’s overall comfort. At Anderson Air, we understand the importance of keeping your HVAC system working properly, but more importantly, keeping you and your family safe.
This post will cover what Freon is, signs of a Freon leak, and some of the potential impacts if it goes unaddressed.
What is Freon?
Freon is the brand name for a group of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) gasses that were widely used as HVAC refrigerants and aerosol spray propellants. Freon was developed by the DuPont company in the 1920s and was used extensively for decades.
However, Freon, among other CFCs and HCFCs, was found to be incredibly harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer. In 1987, an international treaty called the Montreal Protocol phased out the production and use of most CFCs and HCFCs, including Freon.
Today, alternatives such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are used as AC refrigerants instead of Freon.
Do I have Freon in my home?
Freon (also known as refrigerant) is commonly found in home AC and refrigeration systems.
Homeowners with older central air conditioning systems are to likely have Freon or a similar refrigerant installed in their AC units. Newer systems, however, are more likely to use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, which are less harmful to the environment.
However, no matter what kind of refrigerant is in your system, it should only be inspected and repaired by an HVAC professional with the proper safety training and equipment. If you don’t know what kind of refrigerant your system uses, ask your technician.
7 Signs of a refrigerant leak
Signs of a leak can vary based on how severe it is and how much refrigerant has escaped. Here are some common Freon leak symptoms:
If your air conditioning system is blowing warm air instead of cool air, it could indicate a Freon leak. Warm air signals a reduced cooling capacity which, in turn, means that the system cannot remove heat from the air as efficiently as it should.
A spike in your energy bills
If your air conditioning system is running low on refrigerant, it will need to work a lot harder to cool your home, leading to higher energy bills. If you notice a mysterious spike in your AC bills it may be the result of a leak.
Frost or ice buildup
If you notice frost or ice buildup on your air conditioning or refrigeration system, it could be a sign of a Freon leak. This buildup can occur because the refrigerant is not circulating correctly through the system, causing the evaporator coil to freeze.
Freon leaks can cause moisture to accumulate on or around the system, including on walls, floors, or ceilings. Eventually, this moisture buildup can lead to mold or mildew growth which is another problem altogether!
Hissing or bubbling sounds
A Freon leak can cause hissing or bubbling noises as the gas escapes the system. You may also hear other unusual noises, such as banging, rattling, or buzzing, which can indicate a problem with your system.
Strange odors: Freon leaks smell!
If gas is leaking from your AC system, you may notice a chemical odor that smells like nail polish remover, paint thinner, urine, or bleach. If there is moisture buildup in the area, you may also notice a moldy smell.
Freon exposure can cause various health complications. These can include any of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness and headaches: Freon exposure can cause dizziness and headaches, which can make it difficult to concentrate or perform everyday tasks.
- Nausea and vomiting: Exposure to Freon can cause nausea and vomiting, which, in turn, can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
- Skin and eye irritation: Freon can irritate the skin and eyes, causing redness, itching, and burning.
- Respiratory problems: Freon can irritate the respiratory system, which can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, Freon exposure can cause respiratory failure.
- Loss of consciousness: In high concentrations, Freon exposure can cause loss of consciousness, which can be life-threatening.
If anyone in your residence is experiencing any of the following symptoms, evacuate your home, seek medical attention, and call a professional HVAC technician immediately.
Is a Freon leak dangerous?
Yes, a Freon leak can be dangerous for several reasons. First, Freon is a hazardous substance that can cause health problems if inhaled or ingested. Exposure to Freon can cause the symptoms listed above, and in severe cases, Freon exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and even death.
In addition to being toxic to your health, Freon gas is harmful to the environment. When released into the air, Freon can contribute to the erosion of the ozone layer, resulting in serious long-term consequences for our planet.
Furthermore, a refrigerant leak can cause your air conditioning or refrigeration system to malfunction, reducing its efficiency and increasing energy costs. Prolonged leakage can damage the system, leading to costly repairs or replacement.
Suspect a Freon leak? Here’s what to do
If you suspect a Freon leak in your home’s AC system, take the following steps:
- Turn off the system to prevent further leaks and reduce the risk of harm.
- Open your windows and doors to ventilate the area and disperse any Freon gas. If possible, evacuate the area until the leak has been repaired.
- Contact a licensed HVAC technician to inspect and repair your system. A professional has the knowledge and tools to handle and repair the leak safely, minimizing the risk of harm to you and the environment.
- Do not attempt to repair the refrigerant leak yourself. Freon is a hazardous substance and should only be handled by trained professionals. Trying to repair the leak yourself can be incredibly dangerous and may cause further damage to the system.
Contact a professional immediately if you suspect or notice a Freon leak in your house.
Suspect a refrigerant leak? Call Anderson Air.
Freon is a hazardous chemical and should only ever be handled by trained professionals wearing protective equipment. If you suspect a leak in your HVAC system, we’d recommend leaving it to a licensed HVAC technician.
Here at Anderson Air, we understand that the health of your family, your system, and the environment is paramount. If you suspect a leak, contact our team to book an appointment. One of our technicians will inspect and repair your system so you can be safe and comfortable in your home.