Refrigerant leaks are a serious issue for any air conditioning system, particularly because they can reduce efficiency, increase operating costs, and harm the environment. In Philadelphia, where summers can be particularly harsh, ensuring your air conditioning system is free of leaks is crucial for maintaining comfort and sustainability. Here's how to identify, handle, and prevent refrigerant leaks in your central air system.

1. Identifying Refrigerant Leaks

  • Temperature Fluctuations: If your AC is not cooling as efficiently as it used to or you notice temperature inconsistencies, it might be due to a refrigerant leak.
  • Hissing Sounds: A hissing or bubbling noise from your AC unit could indicate escaping refrigerant.
  • Ice on the Evaporator Coils: Ice formation on the coils can be a symptom of low refrigerant levels.
  • High Energy Bills: An unexplained increase in your energy bills might suggest your AC system is working harder to compensate for a leak.

2. Handling Refrigerant Leaks

  • Turn Off the Unit: If you suspect a leak, turn off your air conditioning system immediately to prevent further loss of refrigerant and potential damage to the compressor.
  • Call a Professional: Handling refrigerant requires professional skills and certification due to its hazardous nature. Contact a qualified HVAC technician to diagnose and repair the leak. In Philadelphia, McCorry Comfort is a reliable choice for such services.
  • Never Attempt DIY Repairs: Refrigerant is a controlled substance governed by environmental laws, and handling it requires special certifications (EPA Section 608).

3. Preventing Refrigerant Leaks

  • Regular Maintenance: The best way to prevent refrigerant leaks is by having regular maintenance checks. These checks can identify potential weak points or corrosion before they turn into actual leaks.
  • Proper Installation: Ensure your AC system is installed by a professional to avoid common issues that can lead to leaks, such as improper fittings or stressed joints.
  • Routine Inspections: Have your system's refrigerant levels checked annually to ensure they are within the manufacturer's specified range.

Environmental Impact and Safety

Refrigerant leaks not only impact the performance of your air conditioning system but also pose environmental risks. Many refrigerants are potent greenhouse gases. Proper handling and containment are essential to protect the environment and comply with local and federal regulations.


If you encounter a refrigerant leak, addressing it promptly and effectively is crucial to maintaining your system’s efficiency, safety, and environmental compliance. Regular maintenance and professional inspections are your best defense against potential leaks. By taking proactive steps, you can ensure that your air conditioner continues to provide reliable and efficient service throughout the Philadelphia summers.