How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon

Freon (often referred to as refrigerant) is a key component of an air conditioning system that circulates between the indoor and outdoor units to achieve cooling and heating effects. When an air conditioning system is leaking freon, the efficiency of the air conditioner will drop and it will not be able to cool or heat effectively, which may lead to damage to the air conditioning system in severe cases. Therefore, determining whether the air conditioning system is leaking is an important part of maintaining the normal operation of the air conditioner. Below, I will detail how to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon.

How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon (1)
How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon

Common Signs of Air Conditioner Leaking Fluorine

Before delving into the testing techniques, it is important to first recognize some of the signs that may indicate that your air conditioning system is leaking fluorine:

1. the air conditioner cooling (or heating) effect is reduced: this is the most intuitive sign of leakage of fluorine, due to a reduction in the amount of refrigerant, the efficiency of heat transfer is reduced.

2. the air-conditioning system becomes noisier in operation: the leakage may lead to an increase in the load on the compressor, resulting in an increase in noise.

3. the compressor of the air-conditioning unit starts and stops frequently: insufficient refrigerant may cause the compressor to fail to work properly, starting and stopping repeatedly.

4. outdoor unit frost and condensation: in the cooling state, the outdoor unit connecting pipeline frost may be a sign of leakage.

5. Abnormal increase in electricity bill: because refrigerant leakage leads to a decrease in the efficiency of the air conditioner, thus increasing energy consumption.

How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon (3)
How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon

Air Conditioner Fluorine Leakage Detection Methods

1. Visual inspection

Checking the connecting pipes: Check the indoor and outdoor connecting pipes of the air-conditioner to see if there are traces of oil, which often seeps out from the refrigerant leak.

Inspect refrigerant piping and fittings: Check piping and fittings for obvious signs of damage such as damage, rust, or cracks.

2. Test with soapy water

Method of operation: Apply soapy water to the suspected leakage area. If there is a refrigerant leakage, the soapy water will form bubbles in the leakage area.

Scope of application: This method is suitable for large leaks or parts visible on the outside of the pipeline.

3. Electronic Fluorine Leak Detector

Principle: Leaks can be found more accurately with electronic Refrigerant leak detection equipment. These devices are capable of detecting very low concentrations of refrigerant gas in the air.

Operation: Move the probe of the detector near potential leakage points such as air-conditioning pipelines, joints, valves, etc., and the instrument will indicate the extent of the leakage by sound or numbers.

4. Ultraviolet Dye Detection

Principle: By adding refrigerant containing UV dye to the system, the leakage point will be accompanied by the refrigerant and the dye together, and will show a specific color under the irradiation of the UV lamp.

Operation: Run the air-conditioner for a period of time after adding the dye, then irradiate all parts of the air-conditioner with UV lamps to find the leaking points of the dye.

5. Pressure Test

Principle: Determine if there is a leak by measuring the pressure of the system. Fill the system with dry nitrogen and then monitor whether the pressure drops over a period of time.

Operation: Requires specialized equipment and technicians to operate, and is usually carried out at a service station.

6. Using acoustic wave detection

Principle: Specific acoustic detection equipment can detect ultrasonic waves generated by refrigerant leaks.

Operation: The operator listens to the changes in the acoustic signals through headphones to determine the location of the leak.

7. Halogen Leak Detectors

Principle: Halogen leak detectors are capable of detecting leaks of CFCs and other halogen compounds.

Operation: The probe of the device is placed at the site of possible leakage and if halogen gas is detected, the instrument will emit a warning signal.

8. Thermal imaging camera detection

Principle: Thermal imaging cameras can capture temperature changes due to refrigerant leaks.

Operation: By looking at the temperature profile displayed by the camera, the leakage area shows different temperatures due to the evaporation of the refrigerant and heat absorption.

Industrial Infrared propane (Refrigerant) Sensor (4)
Industrial Infrared propane(Refrigerant) Sensor FS4NDIR/R290
Industrial Infrared HFCs (Refrigerant) Sensor FS4NDIRR454B (2)
Industrial Infrared HFCs (Refrigerant) Sensor FS4NDIR/R454B

Precautions for detecting fluorine leaks

1. Safety first: Always ensure that all safety protocols are followed before using any testing equipment, especially when dealing with pressure testing and refrigerants.

2. Professional service: If you do not have the expertise and tools, you should call a professional technician for testing and repair.

3. Environmental regulations: When handling refrigerant, take care to comply with local environmental regulations. Leakage and discharge of refrigerant may cause harm to the environment.

4. Regular Inspection: Even if there are no obvious signs of fluorine leakage, the air-conditioner should be professionally inspected on a regular basis to prevent potential problems.

How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon (2)
How to tell if air conditioner is leaking freon

Maintenance Recommendations After Inspection

Once the air-conditioning system is confirmed to have a fluorine leakage problem, it should be repaired as soon as possible. Small leaks can be sealed with professional sealants, but in most cases, damaged parts need to be replaced and the refrigerant refilled by a professional technician.