Your central air conditioner has what's known as a closed system for air cooling. That means that the refrigerant used in your air conditioner to cool the air should cycle through the system, not dissipate out. Refrigerant isn't consumed like gasoline or heating oil, so the refrigerant pressure in your central air system should remain consistent, and that pressure is essential to proper cooling operation. Unfortunately, sometimes leaks do happen. Here's a look at what you need to know about the most common signs of a refrigerant leak so that you know when to call your air conditioning repair technician.

Is Your Air Conditioner Not Cooling Your Home Like It Used To?

If your home's air conditioner is running and cool air is blowing through the air ducts, you might assume that everything must be fine. However, that's not necessarily the case. If you feel the air that's coming out of your air ducts, it should feel just as cold as it always has. If it feels cool, but it is not as cold as it used to be, that's a sign that the air conditioner isn't working the way that it should and might be low on refrigerant. 

If the air isn't as cold as it should be, your air conditioner will run excessively trying to reach the temperature set on your thermostat. In some cases, it may never reach that temperature. You'll definitely want to talk with an air conditioning repair technician to have the refrigerant pressure tested in this case.

Is Your Air Conditioner Cycling On And Off Faster Than It Should?

If your air conditioner is short cycling, which means turning on and off fairly quickly, that's another indication that you may have a refrigerant leak. The refrigerant is an essential component for maintaining proper operating temperature, and when the air conditioner can't adequately cool the air, or is running too hot and needs to shut down, you'll find that you experience short cycling. You'll need to have the refrigerant pressure checked to determine if a leak is the cause of the problem, or if there's another issue somewhere in the system.

Can You Hear Something Leaking Around Your Condenser?

The refrigerant in your air conditioning unit is pressurized, so any time there's a leak, you may find that you can actually hear the refrigerant coming out of the unit. Usually, it's a hissing sound or a soft whistle because of the pressure behind the refrigerant as it leaks. This is most commonly heard when the source of the leak is a small hole because the pressure can't dissipate like it could if a hose was cut or disconnected.

If you have any reason to believe that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak, you should reach out to an air conditioning repair technician right away. They can help you find the source of the problem and repair it, then recharge the system to restore proper cooling operation.