Common Causes of AC Refrigerant Leaks

Common Causes of AC Refrigerant Leaks

In order to operate properly, AC systems rely on an ample amount of refrigerant. This chemical compound serves the important purpose of absorbing heat from the air before running it through compressors and evaporators so the system can ultimately release cool air. Because AC refrigerants don’t get used up during the system’s operation, you shouldn’t usually have to re-fill your unit’s refrigerant levels at any point during its lifespan. However, there are some cases in which leaks can occur and result in low refrigerant levels. From corrosion to factory defects, here are some of the most common causes of AC refrigerant leaks.


Often, AC systems are constructed with copper tube walls inside of their indoor condenser coils. Over time, the metal can start to corrode, which will weaken the walls of the tube. In some cases, cracks or holes may form, allowing refrigerant to leak through. To prevent this issue from occurring, consider replacing your copper coils with aluminum ones that are more resistant to corrosion.

Worn Out Seals

The rubber seals on your AC system can begin to wear down over time as a result of aging and frequent use. If the seals on the service valve or around the valve systems become too worn down, refrigerant may start to leak out. Fortunately, worn seals are relatively easy to fix or replace in most cases.

Weak Joints or Connections

In addition to seals, the joints and connections in your AC system can also wear down over time. If the connections and joints become too thin or corroded, openings may form where refrigerant can leak out.

In some cases, small refrigerant leaks from weak assembly joints can go unnoticed for many months. To prevent further damage, keep an eye out for common signs that your AC unit is leaking refrigerant, such as frozen evaporator coils, strange noises coming from the unit, and unusually high electric bills.

Factory Defects

In some cases, refrigerant leaks are simply the result of a factory defect that went undetected. Common factory defects that may occur include:

  • Damaged components
  • Missing parts
  • Improper assembly
  • Poor product handling

If you experience an AC refrigerant leak due to a factory defect, make sure to contact your system’s manufacturer to help resolve the issue. 


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Sue Baxter

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