Do I Have a Refrigerant Leak in My AC?

As AC repair service providers in Austin, we often receive calls about refrigerant leaks. A common question we receive is, “Do I Have a Refrigerant Leak in My AC?”
Refrigerant (Freon or R-22, Puron or R-410A) is a vital component to your HVAC system. Without refrigerant, your AC would not be able to remove the heat from your home or cool it. When your aging Austin AC system is low on Freon, your AC will not function at its peak.

How to Tell If an AC is Low on Refrigerantpicture of frozen AC Unit

You can easily identify if your AC is low on refrigerant by looking for these indicators.

  1. It takes longer than normal for your home to cool off – Low refrigerant causes your AC to work overtime. You can experience high indoor temperatures, and your thermostat may not reach the temperature it is set for.
  2. Your electric bills are higher than normal – Comparing your City of Austin electric bills month-to-month or even year-to-year can help identify unseen issues with your HVAC unit if there is a sudden spike in energy usage or a dramatic increase in your bill.
  3. Vents are not blowing cool air – Warm air blowing out of your vents can indicate a handful of different issues, including an AC that has low refrigerant.
  4. Ice on the refrigerant lines – If you suspect your HVAC unit is low on Freon, look for ice acclamation on your copper refrigerant lines as an indicator.
  5. Water leaking around your indoor unit – Ice on your copper lines will eventually melt. If there is water that has pooled up near the bottom of the furnace it is a good indication that your HVAC unit had frozen up.
  6. Hissing or bubbling noises – If your unit starts making hissing or bubbling noises, it could be evidence of a larger AC refrigerant leak.

If you suspect AC repair issue, be proactive, and call a trusted air conditioning repair service to accurately diagnose the issue.

How Do Austin AC Technicians Find Refrigerant Leaks? 

Our skilled HVAC techs always check pressures on your unit during an air conditioning repair service in Austin.  This is the most accurate way to find out if your system has a Freon leak.  Finding the leak is the next step.  There are three methods our AC repair techs have been trained to use in order to find a leak:

  • Visual detection – When refrigerant leaks, it leaves a residue of oil film from the compressor at the discharge location.
  • Perform a soap test – Spray a combination of water and soap to the suspected leak point. If there is indeed a refrigerant leak in your AC system, the soapy water will bubble.  This method is not the most effective, especially when small leaks are present.
  • Electronic detector – This electronic refrigerant detector, often called a “Sniffer” emits a sound and/or a visual indication when the device detects a leak. This is the industry standard and most reliable leak detector technique.

 

Picture of Vans owned by A Plus Austin TexasRefrigerant Leak Repair

Our AC techs are ready for repairs 365 days a year.  We give our customers the best repair options for each Austin AC repair situation.  Keep in mind that some refrigerant leaks are so small they may be hard to identify.  Some leaks may be too large to repair as well, or in a very difficult spot to access, and a repair is not possible.  With the phase out of R-22 Freon, your AC system may not even be a good candidate for repair, and replacement should be considered.

Even though fall is here, there is still plenty of time for your AC to give you a headache.  If you suspect your AC is low on refrigerant or not cooling properly, give our office in Austin a call at 512-450-1980 to schedule an appointment.  We will get you cool quick!

 

Why is R-22 Refrigerant so Expensive for Austin Home Owners?

Why Does R-22 Really Cost So Much? R-22 is a hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and the most common refrigerant in AC systems

R-22 is a Back in the 1970’s the EPA determined that R-22 / Freon had a negative effect on the ozone layer of our atmosphere.  These effects includes:

  • Harmful UV radiation into our atmosphere,
  • Increased temperatures on earth,
  • Increased sun damage to humans
  • Links to skin cancer.

The plan to phase it out dates back to the late 1980’s, with a decrease amount of supplies allowed in the United States.  On January 1, 2020, R-22 will no longer allow to be imported or manufactured in the US.  However, one consequence of this phase-out means the cost to recharge your AC system in Austin and the rest of the country with more R-22 will continue to grow exponentially.

What Will Happen to Homeowners Without R-22?

If you find your AC blowing warm air, or ice on the refrigerant lines, do not fret as you have a few options.

  • tools for measuring AC System levels and pressureUpgrading Your AC System to a New Refrigerant, R-410A – Though this cost is more significate than an AC system repair, there are benefits to upgrading.  Systems designed for R-410A are more energy efficient and have been shown to have up to a 40% higher cooling capacity compared to R-22.  R-410A also uses synthetic oil, as compared to R-22 that uses mineral oil.  The synthetic oil allows the system to operate more efficiently reducing wear and tear on the compressor.  These new systems have longer warranties and can help lower your electric bills.

 

  • Use of Reclaimed R-22. As of today, we are still able to recharge your AC system with R-22.  Refrigerant companies are reclaiming old R-22.  Reclaiming entails filtering, drying, distillation and is chemically processed that remove impurities.  The cost associated with the reclaiming process will unfortunately keep R-22 pricing on an upward trend.  However, in a pinch, having the option to recharge your system will allow you and your family a little relief in the summer heat and get you by until it leaks out again.

 

Do not Get Stuck in the Austin Heat without Refrigerant  

Family Talking to AC TechnicianThe cost of R-22 has been increasing over the last decade.  With the phase out quickly approaching, the cost will keep rising, as R-22 will become much scarcer.  The best thing to do if you have an is have an Austin, Texas licensed HVAC contractor like A-Plus Air Conditioning & Home Solutions perform a system check to make sure the system’s pressures are good, and that there are no leaks.  If your AC unit is low on Freon, it may be a good time to consider replacement it with a new 410A system.

If your AC is not blowing cool air, or if you want to be proactive before your unit gives out, give our office in Austin a call at 512-450-1980 to schedule an appointment.  We offer fast, 7 day a week service in the Austin area. We won’t leave you in the Texas heat.

How Long Do AC Units Last?

How Long Do AC units last
A frequent question we get at A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning & Home Solutions is “How long do AC units last?”

Home air conditioning units can last between 10-15 years with proper maintenance. That may seem like a long time, but if you purchased a home with an AC already installed, you might want to consider a tune-up and AC evaluation. Knowing when to service or replace your air conditioner can save you valuable time and money.

Today’s air conditioning equipment lasts longer than ever. With updated energy-efficient technology, an AC’s service life may last longer than the 10-15 years. Your AC’s lifespan may be reduced if its capacity is not matched up with the cooling load of your home. Oversized air conditioners tend to “short-cycle”, turning on and off rapidly, causing excessive wear on the AC’s compressor. If your compressor wears out after the warranty runs out, it’s probably time to upgrade to a new energy efficient air conditioner.

Even with proper maintenance, units that get heavy usage may not last as long as the norm. Areas with high humidity and summer temperatures can cut the lifetime of your AC in half. Most older air conditioners can only cool a house 15-18 degrees while newer units can cool a home by 20-25 degrees. A home air conditioner is more than a convenience for many families. During the hottest times of the year, it’s what keeps us comfortable. Like any machine, to get the most life out of your AC, follow up with regular maintenance.

If you have any questions or inquiries regarding your air conditioner contact our A-Plus professionals at 512-450-1980!

When you wait ’til it breaks, it costs more to replace

AC technicianHow many times have you asked your AC technician, “How much longer will my AC last?” How many times have you ignored your technician when he recommended replacing the cooling and heating system? Have you even disregarded his urge to get a new unit when there was a spring or fall sale going on? Have the words, “Do I really need to replace it now?  It is cooling fine” come out of your mouth before?  You probably regretted all of the above statements when it happened on that hot summer day: your AC stopped cooling. Of course it would happen on a scorching day when temperatures are in the triple digits. At that point, it may be too late to take advantage of promotions—as you would guess, there are usually no sales in the middle of summer or winter (aka when you need them the most). Your next question then is, “How soon can you install my new AC system?” The answer is usually that there’s usually a bit of a wait to get the unit ordered and installed because demand is high.  It’s practically unheard of for mid-summer jobs to come at a discount as its takes the AC technicians longer to complete their jobs in the extreme summer heat. Furthermore, they usually have to work overtime to keep up.

Be proactive.  Don’t wait until your air conditioning and heating system breaks down!  If you do wait, you could be without air conditioning for a few days and it will cost more to replace.  You wouldn’t wait until your car has over 200,000 miles and hope you can drive it cross country.  While the average life of an existing AC system is 12-15 years, we find that many of the systems installed by A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning, & Home Solutions last much longer. In addition, they are more efficient and cost less to operate and use the more “earth friendly” refrigerant, R-410a.  Don’t wait until it is too late.  Check with your AC company and get an honest answer from an AC technician you can trust.  If you are unsure, in the Austin area you can call A-Plus @ 512-450-1980 or email us at hvac99@APlusAC.com .

The Problem With Oversized AC Units

AC Repair, AC Service, ECAD Audit, Austin TX, Austin, Texas, Round Rock, APlusAC, A Plus, Air Conditioner

There is a common misconception about sizing your air conditioner when it comes to heating and cooling your home or business. Most people believe the larger the air conditioning unit, the faster it will cool or heat the room- thus lowering your electric bill. There is only slight truth in such a notion. Yes, the room in which you want to cool or heat will reach the ideal temperature much faster with an oversized unit, however simply heating or cooling is not the only function of an AC unit. Only part of the air conditioner’s function is dedicated to heating or cooling, the other part of the units function is to dehumidify the air, something many people tend to overlook, or not even consider.  It is the proper combination of acceptable humidity and temperature that creates comfort.

A home or business with a correct sized AC unit will run at the ideal length of time resulting in desired temperature and dehumidification.  With an oversized unit, the unit does not have ample time to properly remove enough water from the air. For you techies out there- When water vapor condenses on the coil of an oversized unit, there is not enough condensation on the coil to pass through the pan below. Even if the water were to reach this point, it has still not done its job dehumidifying the home due to the fact that there will not be enough water built up on the pan to eject from the unit entirely. This could result in the water evaporating and eventually makings its way back inside.

This alone would be a valid reason as to why people should avoid purchasing an oversized unit, however it is not the only one. Another aspect is overall cost. A larger unit will cost more money up front, and in the long run. Aside from that, the stereotype that it will save you money is vastly embellished.  Before you upsize your system because it is not keeping up, first check your home’s “energy well being”.  It makes more sense to repair duct’s or add insulation, and not to change the size of the system.

So how does one assure that they are purchasing a properly sized unit for their home or business?

Your best bet is to get a HVAC certified professional to assess your needs. A properly trained home analysis will suggest what is the proper size system for the home or business you are trying to cool. A-Plus Air conditioning and Home Solutions professionals will not only guide you through the building analysis, but offer suggestions to what suits your needs best, whether it is weatherizing your home or replacing your cooling and heating system with the proper size.  Check A-Plus out!!!