WHY DO R22 FREON & R410a PURON REFRIGERANT LEAKS OCCUR?
Welcome to the Katy, Texas air conditioning blog. The reasons for R22 Freon or R410a Puron leaks can be many. As time goes on materials change as well as the VOC's among other problems that could be causing those refrigerant leaks to occur in the first place in your home AC system.
First you have to realize and understand what causes the majority of Freon leaks in your home HVAC system Evaporator coil. Building material used to build the home. The manufacturer's of these home products that use formaldehyde in their products, such as carpeting, wood flooring, cabinets and just about any home furnishing you can think of. The other missing ingredient is age of the AC system.
(Note: refrigerant (Freon) leaks can occur anywhere within your HVAC system, not just the evaporator coil. It should also be noted that refrigerant leaks have always been a problem to one degree or another. It only seems like a larger problem than it was before due to the large increases in the cost of refrigerants that are used in residential HVAC systems today.)
What's the problem with formaldehyde used in home furnishings?
It seeps out into the air of the home and this air is drawn into the air return of your HVAC system and then some of it condenses with the air when it hits the evaporator coil in AC mode and forms condensate waste water. This condensate waste water then drains into a pan and the evaporator coil sits in this pan. The formaldehyde becomes formicary acid in the condensate waste water pan and attacks the copper tubing of the evaporator coil of the AC system. This leads to thousands of small pin hole Freon leaks that are invisible to the naked eye.
Formicary corrosion only effects copper tube evaporator coils. The only way to fix this type of leak is to replace the evaporator coil, because it produces thousands upon thousands of small pin hole leaks it's not feasible to attempt to repair them. For a closer look and further understanding, watch the video I have embedded below. AC Copper Coils versus AC Aluminum Coils.
Current day 2019, nearly all if not all HVAC manufacturer's by now have switched to using all aluminum coils. However this type of coil isn't necessarily a perfect solution as if harsh chemicals are used to treat Evaporator coil condensate or clean that coil at some point these chemicals can cause aluminum coils to form Freon (refrigerant) leaks just as easily as the previous mentioned copper tube and aluminum fin coils.
Problems that can cause (Freon) refrigerant leaks are: manufacturing problems, equipment vibration, dissimilar metals contact, improper installation and or maintenance of the equipment, and other forms of coil corrosion such as:
General corrosion, or uniform corrosion, occurs in the solutions where pH is either very high or very low, or at high potentials in electrolytes with high chloride concentrations. In acidic (low pH) or alkaline (high pH) solutions, the aluminum oxide is unstable and thus non-protective.
Economically, galvanic corrosion creates the largest number of corrosion problems for aluminum alloys. Galvanic corrosion, also known as dissimilar metal corrosion, occurs when aluminum is electrically connected to a more noble metal, and both are in contact with the same electrolyte.
Crevice corrosion requires the presence of a crevice, a salt water environment, oxygen. The crevice can result from the overlap of two parts, or gap between a bolt and a structure. When aluminum is wetted with the saltwater and water enters the crevice, little happens initially. Over time, inside the crevice oxygen is consumed due to the dissolution and precipitation of aluminum. (How could salt get in? Think coastal areas.)
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile Organic Compounds are also known as VOC's. Your home has a vast variety of products that leech volatile compounds into the air. Formaldehyde, previously mentioned, is only one such compound. While formaldehyde does not effect an all aluminum coil like it would a copper tube and fin coil, there are probably a few other VOC's that do.
It's not just furnishings in the home that contribute to this dilemma there also cleaning supplies like bleach, perfumes, harsh household cleaners and so on that are used within the home. So it's quite possible for one home to have these continual Freon refrigerant leak problems with coils simply due to the products and or furnishings that those inhabitants use in their homes. Remember, if the compound is in the air it can reach the vulnerable parts of your HVAC system that contain refrigerant.
It was very common recommendation to treat condensate drains with bleach back in the day and / or the use of algae tabs. Today, I would think twice before doing these practices now.
Unfortunately there is no perfect air conditioner (regardless of what the advertisement says), they all break at some point. But you magnify these kinds of problems even more in whom you choose to be your home comfort servicer or AC repair man and the methods used to clean and or maintain your HVAC system can be leading causes of component failure. The easy way out is to blame the HVAC manufacturer and while they could be blamed to a degree the amount of that blame in my opinion is in the realm of 5%.
You can't compare AC brands of 20 years ago to AC brands today?
Why? Because they have all changed. The processes used today, the materials used today are different of those used 20 years ago. Watch the video above as this demonstrates this the best way than just talking about it alone. I spent a lot of time making that video and it's a bit lengthy but wouldn't you expect that of quality and informative information?
How can I say all these things? As of 2019 I have installed over 7 different brands of air conditioning equipment with equipment failure rates less than 3% every year among every brand I have used over the past 11 year period. If every brand breaks, what difference would it make what brand is chosen? If I had a failure rate really high how is it that I could take the time to make a in depth video about it as well as write a lengthy blog post about it as well? A scam is something that is easy to perpetuate with as little work as possible. Think about it.
HVAC Service will always be needed. Lack of proper maintenance, improper installation and what products are used in the home can all be contributing factors to the health and longevity of any HVAC system. What you do or allow to be done can have a big impact on your HVAC system longevity.
So why should I use your Katy, Texas AC services then?
I can help you cut the risk of failure. Ultimately risk is all it is. I can't prevent all failures. No one can. The new system will fail, the system you have now has failed. If not why are you still reading? With that said, not all failures need the AC system to be replaced.
Refrigerant leaks, while a common problem isn't always the only problem. If you have had to add refrigerant before, you have a Freon leak somewhere. Air conditioners do not use up refrigerant. That's where good service and good service practices help you avoid various HVAC equipment failure pitfalls.
The other part of AC failures not mentioned here is equipment brand bashing because the brand name of a specific piece of air conditioning equipment appears inferior. To this day this AC brand name bashing typically refers to the skill level of the HVAC company you are using. If they can't fix "xyz" brand of course they will bash it (usually to get you to replace it with their brand), because there is no other way.
When referring to the above comments it is understood I am talking about AC systems that are less than 15 years old and worth repairing or fixing, regardless of brand... even the so called 'better' brands are merely perceived as being better by costly advertising of those brands. They all fail at some point. Why 15 years? Because that is the national average of how long a typical HVAC system lasts, regardless of the brand name on the side of the AC system.
If all HVAC brands last roughly 15 years, what difference does the brand name make? Answer: very little. I am a AC repair man, it's what I do. With that said, just because a HVAC system is 15 years old or older does not mean it 'has' to be replaced. This greatly depends on your objectives and what is actually wrong with the HVAC equipment in question. Obviously repairing an older AC system comes with risk, because you could repair it and it could break down again a few weeks or months later, just due to age factors alone.
There are roughly only 7 HVAC central forced air manufacturer's in the USA. But there are many more brands than 7. I have worked on nearly all of them. So what could this possibly tell you?
Thank you for visiting my Katy, Texas AC blog today. I hope your day is comfortable.
About the author of this blog post: My name is Ray Austin. I am the owner and operator of Austin Air Companie, a HVAC Service Company serving Katy, Texas | Cypress, Texas | Richmond, Texas and some surrounding areas. I am a Texas Licensed HVAC Contractor with 24 years experience as of 2019 in Air Conditioning and Heating Systems. I hold an AOS degree in HVAC/R, EPA universally certified to handle any refrigerant and NATE certified in HVAC installations and repairs.
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