Leonard Splaine Is your Coil leaking and what you can do about it

dirty HVAC coil

The evaporator coil is located inside your air conditioner. If you’re experiencing water leaking from your air conditioner, you may be experiencing an evaporator coil issue,  The evaporator coil absorbs the heat inside your home and by using a refrigerant gas, transfers the heat outside.

pretty straight forward right? Well, what happens when things go wrong, and your evaporator coil leaks?

When you’ve got an indoor coil that’s leaking refrigerant, it will take a long time for the system to cool your home… if it cools your home at all. Even if your AC doesn’t quit right away, you’ll experience longer run times.

As the leak worsens, the system will lose its ability to cool.

In this article, you will learn the symptoms of a leak in your evaporator coil, what causes evaporator coil to leak in the first place and what you can do about it. 

What Causes an Evaporator Coil to Leak?

If your air conditioner is going to have a refrigerant leak, there’s a good chance it will happen on the indoor coil.

Leaks in the evaporator coils are primarily caused by a chemical reaction between the copper they’re made from, high humidity and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Together, they combine to create formic acid that corrodes the copper. VOCs are gases that many common household products emit. Among other things, they come from household cleaning products, air fresheners, some cosmetics, paint, flooring materials and dry cleaning.

Other causes of evaporator coil leaks include mold and biofilms that grow on the coil. Both slowly erode the integrity of the copper, eventually leading to a leak if ignored.
Here’s how you can prevent evaporator coil leaks:

– Reduce VOCs in your home. Not only will this stop coil leaks from forming, but it helps clean the indoor air. The leaks are serious, since they can spew toxic refrigerant into your home. If your system uses R-22 refrigerant, which sometimes goes by the brand name R-22, it could be dangerous to breathe. Newer refrigerants are less toxic but still carry some possible respiratory side effects. In general, look for household products that are labeled as low in VOCs

– Consider using an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). These balanced ventilation systems allow you to bring fresh air into your home during the long cooling season and expel contaminated air outside without wasting your cooling dollars. ERVs transfer thermal energy and humidity between inflowing and outflowing air streams. These systems improve overall air quality (IAQ) and reduce the concentration of VOCs.

– Add UV (ultraviolet) lights to the air handler to stop mold and bacterial growth. This reduces the sort of corrosion that’ll spring leaks in an evaporator coil.

What Are the Symptoms of a Leak in the Evaporator Coil?

Like most AC issues, the first indicator of a damaged AC evaporator is poor performance. Since the AC evaporator is the major part that removes heat from the air, failure is rather simple to determine.

However, there are 4 other warning signs of a damaged AC evaporator:

1. The cool air is weak or no cold air is blowing at all:   When the AC Evaporator coil or core is leaking, it will impact the effectiveness of the air conditioning system. Generally speaking, the greater the leak, the cooling capacity is reduced.

2. You notice a strange odor when using your AC system:  If your AC evaporator is leaking, a small amount of refrigerant (not coolant) will seep from the coil, core, or seals. This will produce a sweet aroma, which might get more intense when the AC is turned on.

3. The AC compressor will not activate:   The compressor is intended to circulate refrigerant through the evaporator. It depends on maintaining a predetermined pressure to operate. As such, if there is a leak, there is reduced pressure within the system and the compressor will not activate.

4. The AC temperature will vary:  If the AC evaporator has a small leak, it can continue to cool air. However, if the temperature is inconsistent, it’s a possible indicator of a damaged AC evaporator.

How to fix the evaporator coil leak

Sadly, repair isn’t an option.

There’s no reliable way to repair the leaks themselves. Evaporator coils are large components that reside in dark places and are characterized by tiny dips, curves, crevices, and hard-to-see, hard-to-reach areas. When it comes to finding leaks, the needle-in-a-haystack analogy applies.

And keep in mind that you might be dealing with several little leaks, not just one big obvious one.

For this reason, you’ll usually have to replace your coil, your air handler, or your entire HVAC system. It all depends on what kind of system you’ve got, how old it is, and your long-term priorities for heating and cooling.

As the evaporator coil leaks and refrigerant go together, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with your trusted HVAC technician. Refrigerant exposure can be risky and should be checked only by a professional. A technician will perform a comprehensive examination of the system and can diagnose a refrigerant leak. Keep in mind that some of the technicians might want to cut corners and get it fixed by adding more refrigerant or attempting to seal the holes. It is not recommended because the refrigerant will continue to leak and the money will be wasted. Although the new coil cost isn’t cheap, it can prove to be a better investment as it will allow your system to cool your house effectively.

How to prevent leakage?

While it is not recommended to repair a leaking evaporator coil yourself, there are some of the things that can be done to prevent future leaks:

Erosion is one of the primary causes of wearing out the evaporator coil by weakening it over time. The weaker the coils are going to be, there are chances that your air conditioner will experience leakage. Contact the professionals if you are having issues with the coil.

Give us a call today at (571) 410- 3555 or contact us to schedule an appointment for service with one of our trained technicians.