The Headaches of Freon Leaks!

The Headaches of Freon Leaks!

Did you know you should never have to add freon to your central air conditioning unit?  Unfortunately, it is such a common thing that homeowners call to see how often they should have freon added to their unit, the answer is never.  If you ever must add freon to your unit YOU HAVE A LEAK!  Most freon leaks are headaches for the contractor and the customer and here’s why!

Freon leaks can be costly

There are 3 different methods most contractors use for locating a leak, electronic (most common and most cost effective), ultraviolet dye, and nitrogen test.  Using dye or the electronic method requires freon being in the unit, while nitrogen test requires the unit be empty.


An electronic sniffer detects freon by making beeping noises when it senses freon in the air.  In some cases, the technician can find the leak without adding freon.  In most cases, the pressures are to low to detect freon, therefore freon will have to be added to find the leak.


Ultraviolet dye is injected and flows with the oils of the refrigerant.  Where freon leaks out, the dye will show using a black light.  Often the technician will inject the dye and leave until the freon leaks down. Sometimes this may take a few weeks until the dye surfaces.


This is the only method used that requires no freon.  Using this method, you pressurize the unit and follow the lines until you here the freon or soak the line with bubbles.


The reason freon leaks can pose a real headache, is that sometimes freon may have to be added to find the leak providing an extra cost.  If the leak occurs in your evaporator or condenser coil, it is recommended to replace the leaking component which can be very expensive.  Also keep in mind the EPA requires that if your unit leaks more than 15% of its freon charge in a 12-month period, you are required to repair the leak in 30 days or develop a plan to retrofit or retire the appliance.  On Jan. 1, 2019 the leak rate will change.  Instead of a 15% leak rate it will be a 10% leak rate.  So, if your unit holds 10 pounds of freon, you will only be allowed to lose 1 pound of freon a year.