Freon is a special pressurized liquid inside the pipes of air conditioners and other popular refrigerant home devices. This liquid is necessary for these appliances to work, but it can be quite the nuisance in case of a leak.
Freon leaks are sometimes abrupt and severe and some other times the leakage happens slowly without giving any immediate signs.
Such leaks usually occur after severe damage to the pipes of the air conditioner unit in question and also after years of usage. Here is everything you need to know about Freon leaks in your home.
Who’s in Danger?
Freon leaks mostly affect children and pets, because the liquid after leaking out from the pressurized pipe it becomes gas and stays low to the ground (its heavier than the air).
Also, small kids do not have the knowledge to stay away during a leak. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful to human adults, too.
Generally speaking, the only problems you will notice are dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. Extended exposure can lead to more serious problems. If you are exposed to Freon, take the time to get checked up by the doctor so that you can rest assured that you don’t have any damage.
Signs of a Freon Leak
If you suspect a Freon leak in your home, look for the warning signs. You may notice that the air-conditioner isn’t working like it used to. Your home may not get as cold as quickly or you might notice significantly higher utility bills.
You may also notice that there is physical damage to the air conditioning unit or ice building up around the pipes.
Sometimes you’ll see a pull of water from the condensation next to the air conditioner.
Freon doesn’t have a strong odor, so you may not smell a leak like other gas leaks. Rather than smell the Freon leak, you might hear the Freon leaking out of the air conditioner.
Is a Freon Leak in Your Home Dangerous?
Freon is a dangerous gas and will cause some harmful consequences if it leaks into your home, but it is not lethal.
It can cause mild symptoms such as a headache, dizziness, coughing, and irritation of the respiratory system. If it gets on your skin, it could cause mild burns.
A freon leak is definitely unpleasant, but it will not be very dangerous if it happens in your home and gets caught in time.
That is because most homes are well-ventilated and you will only inhale small quantities of the gas, which is not enough to cause serious health consequences.
Still, as soon as you suspect a freon leak, you should call a professional repair technician.
How to Prevent Freon Leaks
Some Freon leaks, such as after a rough storm, are simply impossible to predict. However, there are certain things that you can do to prevent leaks happening because of aging of the appliance.
First, get regular maintenance done on your air conditioner (or other refrigerant device) so that this doesn’t become a problem. An inspection should be done about once a year. It’s also a good idea to keep your air conditioner as protected as possible from the elements, kids, and pets.
Something as small as your dog urinating on your pipes can eat through them, causing problems.
Keep the air conditioner in a secluded area. If you can put a cover over and around it, even better.
You should also keep an eye on your air conditioner after storms and periodically to check for any problems. Finally, educate yourself as much as possible. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to solve the problem when it happens.
What to Do in Case of a Leak
If you do suspect a Freon leak, the first thing to do is call a professional to schedule an appointment to get the problem fixed.
Many companies offer emergency services if you are worried about the leak affecting you and your family. Next, make sure that everyone stays away from the affected appliance.
If necessary, pack up some clothes and games and go to a hotel for the night while it’s fixed. Talk to the company to determine whether it might be best for you to replace the entire system while you’re at it. It could be best to get everything done at once.
Leaks require a professional repair. A person who doesn’t have the knowledge may hurt themselves or not complete the repair properly. This is even more important for big leaks, but all problems should be handled by a professional.
Freon is a dangerous substance both for humans and for the environment as well. Luckily, Freon leaks don’t happen that often. They mostly happen after extreme damage, but it’s a good idea to continue through regular maintenance just to make sure that nothing happens under your nose.
You don’t need to live in fear of such a problem, but, if it does happen, rest assured that there are professionals available to fix the problem for you.
Can a Refrigerant Leak Kill You?
If you get refrigerant poisoning, you could experience severe health issues such as dizziness, seizures, and fainting. If the condition is not treated in time, it is lethal.
However, you need to inhale large quantities of refrigerants before you start experiencing refrigerant poisoning.
When you have an accidental leak in your home, it almost never releases concentrated enough amounts of freon to kill anyone.
Most instances of refrigerant poisoning happen when people try to sniff the gases to get high.
What Does a Freon Leak Smell Like?
One of the easiest ways to tell if you have a freon leak is by smell. Freon releases a sickly sweet odor that some people have compared to chloroform or car coolant. However, the odor is very faint so it may take you some time to notice it.
Other tell-tale signs of a freon leak include problems with the way that your AC is working. If you notice that it does not produce as much air as it used to or that the air is warmer than usual, it could be a sign of a freon leak and you should call a professional.
Is Freon Toxic to Dogs?
Freon is most dangerous for pets and small children. Not only are they smaller, but they are more vulnerable to the gas, even in smaller quantities, because the gas tends to sink lower in your house.
Children and dogs are smaller, so they breathe in the air closer to the ground and are more likely to inhale freon.
However, if you catch freon poisoning early and take your dog to the vet in time, it probably will not experience severe consequences.
Can a Freon Leak Be Fixed?
A professional HVAC repair technician can fix a freon leak in your home. However, sometimes it is more cost-effective to replace the unit altogether.
If the leak is sizable, you will need to spend hundreds of dollars replacing the freon and soldering the leaky areas.
You should never, ever attempt to fix a freon leak by yourself. Although it may not kill you, spending so much time working closely with freon without the proper knowledge or precautions could cause health issues. A professional technician will know how to fix the leak without endangering you or your home.
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