Don’t worry, you probably don’t have a snake hiding anywhere in your system. Besides, the “hissing” we’re referring to sounds more like air being let out of a tire. Alternatively, you may hear bubbling if this particular air conditioner problem is occurring. What problem is that, you ask?
Refrigerant, leaving then AC system.
Before we go any further, we need to clear up a common misconception. Refrigerant is not meant to leave an AC’s system. Ideally, upon manufacturing your air conditioner has enough refrigerant to last its entire lifespan. It’s in a closed-loop system and is the fluid necessary to transfer heat. It’s quite literally the component that allows your air conditioner to actually cool your living space. So, if it is leaving the system, what does that mean, and why does it matter? Read on to find out!
Your AC Has a Leak!
That’s right, you have a refrigerant leak. And when an air conditioner has a refrigerant leak, it struggles to operate as it should. But hissing is just one of the signs you may discover, and sometimes you might not even discover it until the loss of refrigerant has become so severe that other components in your system start breaking down. Here are some additional signs to watch for:
- The air coming from the vents isn’t as cool as you think it should be. First, check to make sure this isn’t actually an airflow issue. Sometimes the air is cool enough, it’s just not coming out powerfully. If airflow is the issue, this may be as simple a solution as switching out your air filter, which you should be doing every 1–3 months anyway.
- Your air conditioner is short-cycling. This is the process in which your cooling system turns on and off rapidly, never completing a full cooling cycle. An additional factor to note here: if short-cycling starts right after you have your system installed, it probably means the system is too large for your living space.
- Your energy bills have increased unexpectedly. Sure, they’ll rise every summer, but take a closer look at yours. Are they considerably higher than they were this same time last year? How about in comparison to what your neighbors are paying? Exorbitant cooling bills typically indicate that your air conditioner isn’t working as efficiently as it should be, and if you have a refrigerant leak it won’t operate as efficiently as it should.
- You’ve noticed ice forming on the coil or refrigerant line itself. Ice is never a normal thing to see on any part of your air conditioner! We know it may seem like it is. But, ice actually prevents the evaporator coil from absorbing heat, ironically. It’s bad news for your air conditioner all around–and don’t even think about trying to remove it on your own. Doing this can lead to further damage, however well-intentioned your efforts. The root of the problem must be addressed by professionals, and that’s what we’re here for!