What Causes Refrigerant Leaks in Heat Pumps?

Refrigerant is a chemical mixture (the different types are referred to as “blends”) responsible for the basic operation of heat pumps and air conditioners. This chemical can change from gas to liquid and back with only a small amount of energy, allowing it to absorb heat from one location (evaporation) and release it in another (condensation). The earliest refrigerants were chemicals that were either toxic or highly combustible, such as ammonia, but modern refrigerants are specially developed blends designed with safety in mind. The name “Freon”—a trademark of DuPont—is now the general term used for modern blends.

Here’s something important you need to know about the refrigerant in your heat pump: it remains at a fixed amount in the system, known as its “charge.” When your heat pump operates, whether keeping you warm or cool, the refrigerant will not dissipate or get used up. However, it might start to leak, and this will lead to icing along the coils and a loss of heating and cooling power.

If refrigerant starts leaking, you need to contact experts like those at AccuTemp Heating and Air Conditioning for repairs on your heat pump in Prospect, KY that will seal the leaks and recharge the refrigerant with the proper blend.

So what causes these refrigerant leaks, you ask?

There are a variety of things that can trigger leaks inside heat pumps (and ACs). An aging system can begin to develop cracks along the copper tubes that carry the refrigerant, often at connection points. If this happens, it usually stems from a manufacturing flaw, and a technician can fix it so the problem will not reoccur.

Another culprit for leaking is formic acid developing along the copper lines and creating tiny holes through acid corrosion. The source of formic acid getting into a heat pump is formaldehyde, a pollutant that often infiltrates homes. Formaldehyde can convert to formic acid inside the heat pump and drill these holes. To combat this problem, some heat pump manufacturers have switched to using aluminum instead of copper for the refrigerant lines.

Debris getting inside your heat pump’s cabinet can also cause damage that will lead to leaks: this is one of the reasons you need to make certain to change your heat pump’s filter monthly during times when the system sees regular use. A clogged air filter will start letting particles inside the cabinet, which might end up creating cracks along the refrigerant lines.

Seek professional sealing and recharging

Heat pumps are complex devices, and refrigerant a complex chemical mixture, so you’ll need professionals to find the leaks, seal them, and use the correct refrigerant to recharge the heat pump to the right level. AccuTemp Heating and Air Conditioning can handle your leaking heat pump in Prospect, KY, and it’s “Fixed Right or It’s FREE!”™

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