The Symptoms Of An Air Conditioner Leaking Freon

In this article, I will go over the symptoms of an air conditioner leaking freon. If your A/C is leaking refrigerant (FREON) there will be various symptoms you can look for.

Just because the system has some of the symptoms listed below doesn’t mean low refrigerant is the reason. When you suspect the system may be low on freon make sure you check some of the other common reasons your ac system will freeze up. You can Click Here to read my post on other reasons the system leaks refrigerants and what to look for.

A/C Blowing Warm Air.

One of the most obvious symptoms of an air conditioner leaking freon is when it blows warm air. An all too common situation is when a homeowner has a service technician come out to check the system. The service technician tells the homeowner it’s a little low on refrigerant and adds some. The air conditioner is working well after the tech puts the refrigerant in.

A week later the homeowner notices the air is blowing warm again only to find out there is no guarantee on the refrigerant. The AC system has a leak somewhere in the sealed refrigerant system.

Refrigerant (Freon) is what absorbs the heat that accumulates in your home. When your refrigerant level gets low the system can’t absorb as much heat as it can when it’s charged correctly.

As the refrigerant level gets low the air will blow out warm and not be able to cool your home. When the refrigerant gets really low the air will blow out cold but, the home will still get hot. This happens when the evaporator coil turns into a block of ice and the air crossing over the coil feels cold. Just because the air coming out feels cold doesn’t mean your house will cool down. The house will actually get hotter even if the air coming out the register is cold in this scenario. The reason this happens is that the refrigerant isn’t present to absorb the heat and is being blocked by the ice on the evaporator coil.

Air Conditioner Compressor Isn't Running?
Air Conditioner Compressor Isn’t Running?

Air Conditioner Icing Up.

One of the easiest ways to tell when an air conditioner is low on freon is when the system freezes up at certain locations. If you see ice inside the condenser on the copper lines or the compressor that’s a good indication the air conditioner is low on freon.

Ice may also form on the copper lines on the outside of the condenser. Typically these are the lines that come out of the house and then over to the condenser. If you see ice on those copper lines then it’s a good possibility your refrigerant is low in your HVAC system.

The Condenser Compressor Shuts Off.

On many modern Air Conditioner condensers, the condenser compressor will shut off if your air conditioner is leaking freon and is severely low. Some systems have a low-pressure cut-off switch and some systems have a high-pressure cut-off switch.

If the symptoms of an air conditioner leaking freon is the compressor shutting off then you will want to connect some refrigerant gauges. When the refrigerant gauges are connected you will be able to see if the pressures are really low. Many of the systems I’ve checked that have this problem often come back on only to run for a minute and shut back off. Obviously, this is a little more complex than some of the more simple problems that may occur but, with a simple set of gauges, you can troubleshoot this problem.

How To Change An Air Conditioner Condenser Motor
How To Change An Air Conditioner Condenser Motor

Overheating Compressor.

One of the symptoms of an air conditioner leaking freon can be a compressor overheating. The compressor will overheat because it’s working hard and lacks the correct amount of refrigerant to properly cool the compressor.

I went on service calls when this happened and I had to put in 1 pound of refrigerant and then run water from a garden hose over the compressor to cool it down. After the compressor was cooled down I would have my gauges connected to properly fill the ac system. The compressor has an internal heat-activated safety overload switch. The water will cool the compressor so the safety switch will close and allow the compressor to come back on. Now that the compressor is ready to operate you can have your gauges and refrigerant ready to be installed.

air conditioner leaking freon
air conditioner leaking freon

Iced Up Evaporator Coil.

One of the very common symptoms of an air conditioner leaking freon is that the evaporator coil will freeze up. The evaporator coil temperature will drop below 32 degrees as the refrigerant level continues to get lower. The lower the refrigerant level becomes the lower the temperature of the evaporator coil will become causing it to freeze up like a big block of ice.

The Symptoms Of An Air Conditioner Leaking Freon

When an air conditioner is leaking freon you may be able to see refrigerant oil on the dry indoor or outdoor coil. The coil may be dry and when you see the oily wet spot you will determine the refrigerant is leaking around that location.

air conditioner freon leak dye test
air conditioner freon leak dye test


If your system has a freon leak but, you still can’t determine where or what is causing it you may need to inject dye into your system. You can also use a refrigerant leak search tool. Either way, you should find out if the leak is in a location that can be repaired or if the leaking part just needs to be replaced.

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