Your air conditioner has been manufactured as a closed system designed to capture the heat energy of a house, to transport it to the outside and to release it into the atmosphere. Therefore, a refrigerant leakage usually has a hazardous environmental impact. However, the environmental impact of Freon & coolant leaks is also more significant than, for example, carbon dioxide (CO2).
The refrigerant is the heat exchanger; that is, it carries heat from one place to another. Besides the consequences on your budget, the impact of Freon & coolant leaks on the environment are catastrophic. Refrigerants are usually composed of carbon atoms, fluorine and hydrogen.
Hydrofluorocarbons are regularly used in air conditioner systems, and more particularly in the manufacture of insulating foams. A refrigerant removes heat from the air conditioner and releases it into the surrounding air. So if you have a loss of refrigerant, there is leakage in your pipes.
It can be compared to the coolant of cars. Every year, technicians are forced to add refrigerant due to leaks. The refrigerants R407C and R410A have a relatively less impact on the environment, unlike CFCs, which are considered to be more hazardous to the ozone layer. CO2 is a natural refrigerant because it exists naturally in the air. Studies have shown that from 2005 to 2010, many changes of coils occurred due to leaks. The most common reason is the wear of the seal.
Here are the options to repair a refrigerant leak, from the most efficient to the least efficient:
Buy a New System
Obviously, this will eliminate the leak as the entire system will be replaced.
Repair the Leak
The technician must solder a leak or replace a work piece, remove the refrigerant completely, pressurize the system with nitrogen, add the new refrigerant and search for leakage using a detector.
The air conditioner coils undergo large variations in temperature, the effect of which is to continually expand and contract the metal, which can cause stress on the joint (welding or compression), thus creating microscopic cracks from which the refrigerant can leak. In this cycle, CO2 is used at high temperatures and pressures, which improves the efficiency of the heat pump by heating water at high temperatures. This is considered normal wear and tear of the coil.
In addition, CO2’s Global Warming Power (GWP) is low compared to other conventionally used refrigerants. It is a good point for this fluid because it is less dangerous in case of a leak. The pressure and temperature conditions of the CO2 also imply the addition of a sub-cooler in the thermodynamic cycle. Leaks will also not appear all of a sudden.
Leaks are caused by several things. Another type of leak was discovered a decade ago. Sometimes formic acid attacks the copper of the coils, creating microscopic cracks in copper pipes.
Refrigerant leakage may also occur if the quality of the installation and welding techniques are poor. This can be avoided by choosing a company whose technicians have undergone continuous training. The choice between repair and replacement will depend on the age of your system, general condition and budget. Finally, a refrigerant leak can occur due to damage to the lines in the walls. This is the most difficult problem to locate and repair.