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heat pump freezing upEvaporator coil leaks must be diagnosed and repaired by a professional. However, the homeowner can do a few things to make them less likely. Sealed inside your indoor air handler, the evaporator coil component of the air conditioner performs the heavy lifting of heat transfer that cools your home. Frigid refrigerant circulating through the copper coil tubes extracts heat energy from household air pushed through the coil by the blower fan. This refrigerant then flows to the outside condenser coil where the heat is dispersed into outdoor air. Low refrigerant levels due to leakage open a Pandora’s box of symptoms relating to poor performance and high operating costs. It can also damage expensive system components such as the compressor. When  refrigerant leaks occur in the evaporator coil, it’s usually a result of deterioration from one specific cause.

What Causes Evaporator Coil Leaks

Building materials and other items in the home often emit odorless fumes called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The best-known example of a VOC is formaldehyde. In well-sealed, under-ventilated houses built for maximum energy conservation, these VOC fumes may accumulate to high levels. When volatile organic compounds in household air circulating through the A/C system contact the wet copper tubing inside the evaporator coil, a corrosive substance called formic acid is created. Over years of exposure, the buildup of formic acid eats tiny pinholes in the copper tubing, causing evaporator coil leaks.

How to Reduce Chances of Evaporator Coil Leaks

Here’s what you can do to help reduce the effects of corrosive action:

  • Increase household ventilation by bringing in fresh outdoor air to dilute the concentration of VOCs in the air.
  • Consider a whole-house air purifier mounted inside your HVAC ducts. A unit that incorporates a UV light array as well as efficient filtration will effectively decompose VOCs in circulating air.
  • Schedule an A/C service call with your HVAC contractor. In addition to measuring your refrigerant level, he’ll clean the evaporator coil with solutions formulated to neutralize formic acid. A clean coil doesn’t corrode, plus you get better cooling and energy-efficiency.

For more information on the cause and cures for evaporator coil leaks in your Sarasota and Bradenton area home, please contact our A/C pros at Aqua Plumbing & Air.