Why Is Your Older Evaporator Coil Leaking?

Refrigerant leaks are more than a minor frustration. Unlike fluid leaks in your car, you can't simply top your air conditioner up with more refrigerant and use it for another summer. Air conditioning systems rely on precise refrigerant pressures, so recharging or evacuating a system always requires the attention of a professional.

More importantly, a leaky system can result in inefficient operation, environmental damage, and total compressor failure. Unfortunately, older evaporator coils are a common source of refrigerant leaks, and you may be experiencing this problem in your system if you have an older air conditioning unit. So, why do these coils leak, and what can you do? This guide will shed some light on this all-too-common issue.

Why Does Corrosion Happen?

Your home's air conditioner may seem like an everyday appliance, but a surprising amount of complex chemistry happens in your system. Your refrigerant's chemical properties are crucial to the system's operation, but chemistry also plays a role in corrosion. Unfortunately, corrosion is often the primary culprit for refrigerant leaks.

While many modern air central air conditioners use all-aluminum evaporator coils, older systems contain numerous dissimilar metals. At a minimum, an older system will likely use aluminum fins with copper refrigerant tubing. These dissimilar metals create the conditions necessary for galvanic corrosion, especially with the presence of one other critical element: water.

Water is generally the enemy of your HVAC system, and moisture in your refrigerant tubing is a disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately, improper refrigerant evacuation can sometimes leave moisture behind, making corrosion in the evaporator coil more likely. Since older systems will likely have received more repairs, they're more likely to have had their refrigerant drained improperly.

What Can You Do About Corrosion?

Corrosion is a natural chemical process. You probably can't prevent it from ever happening in your air conditioning system, especially if you have an older evaporator coil with several metals. However, you can take several steps to reduce its likelihood. First, always rely on a professional for repairs and refrigerant recharging. An expert will know how to avoid introducing moisture into your system.

You should also always address leaks as soon as you know they exist. Even a minor leak in your evaporator coil can be a major problem, and you're likely to cause damage to your compressor if you leave it for too long. The leak can also allow more moisture to enter the system, leading to additional corrosion and leaks.

As with any other problem in your air conditioning system, you can reduce your long-term costs by maintaining your system properly and repairing problems as soon as you notice them. While corrosion can be frustrating, relying on professional repairs and service can help reduce its likelihood and extend the life of your evaporator coil. 

For more info about AC repair, contact a local company.