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Cool Touch Air Conditioning and Heating Blog

What Pinhole Leaks Mean for Your AC

ac-coil-copper-bends-through-sheet-metalPinhole leaks in an air conditioner have to be in the top running for “most irritating AC problems.” When they happen, there’s not much you can do except to have them fixed by a professional air conditioning repair service in Phoenix, AZ. Luckily, understanding how they happen and their warning signs can significantly reduce the damage they might bring.

Why does it matter?

When talking about pinhole leaks in your air conditioner, what we’re concerned with are the components made of copper:

  • The condenser coil
  • The evaporator coil
  • The refrigerant line

These components are also all responsible for transporting refrigerant through the system. A pinhole leak, then, invariably leads to a loss of refrigerant, and as refrigerant leaves the system, it only means trouble for your AC.

How can you detect them?

Refrigerant leaks can cause several different symptoms. If they continue for too long, it can cause your AC to stop working entirely. However, you should never let it get to that point since it will mean that your AC has been forced to work harder and incur more wear-and-tear than normal. If you detect any of these signs of a refrigerant leak, make sure to call an air conditioner repair service at the earliest notice.

  • Noises: Pinhole leaks are also called “champagne leaks” due to the fact that they create little bubbles. Sometimes these bubbles make an audible gurgling noise that can alert you to the presence of a leak.
  • Performance issues: Other times, the signs can be less apparent. You may have noticed your cooling power has diminished, which can lead to increased energy bills since your AC is now working longer to cool the home.
  • Frozen coils: Refrigerant helps the coils transfer heat, so when there’s less refrigerant in the system, it means it won’t be able to absorb heat properly anymore. When that happens, your evaporator coil can freeze over. (In the event that this happens, do not try to chip away the ice!)

How do they happen?

Pinhole leaks can happen for a few different reasons.

  • Volatile organic compounds: VOCs are a type of indoor pollutant, like that found in aerosol cans and other household chemicals. Formaldehyde, in particular, can create corrosion in copper tubing. The evaporator coil is most susceptible to this kind of corrosion due to the fact that it’s located indoors.
  • Rubbing against the coils: On both the condenser and evaporator coils, the copper tubing is shaped into various elbow bends and housed in a container of sheet metal (see the picture at the top of this post for an example). Vibrations can cause the copper and sheet metal to rub against each other, resulting in some corrosion that can lead to pinhole leaks.
  • Damage to the refrigerant line: Refrigerant lines are not housed within a unit, therefore leaving them open to damage. Their joints are weak and won’t be able to take much abuse, so things like weed whackers and lawnmowers have become common reasons that a refrigerant line can develop some pinhole leaks.

A pinhole leak doesn’t have to be your AC’s downfall. Contact Cool Touch Air Conditioning and Heating today. Kick back and relax, we’ll keep you cool.

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