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What Causes A/C Evaporator Coil Leaks?

A/C evaporator coil leaks are the invisible menace that strikes cooling systems when you least expect it. Because these leaks happen slowly and without much warning, it isn’t until your A/C stops cooling as effectively as it should that you’ll notice.

As a result, it’s important to understand how A/C evaporator coil leaks happen, how to spot a leak and what you and your HVAC contractor can do to solve the problem once and for all.

Common Causes of A/C Leaks

Formic corrosion is a common cause of most evaporator coil leaks. This type of corrosion is easily identifiable thanks to the nearly microscopic “ant’s nest” holes and discoloration on the copper coil. A/C units in hot and sometimes humid climates such as Central Arizona are especially vulnerable to it.

Formic corrosion occurs when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from household cleaners and sprays interact with moisture and the copper metal to create formic acid. The acid then eats away at the copper metal, leaving behind its tell-tale calling card.

Physical damage to the A/C evaporator coil itself can also damage the copper coil and cause leaks. Improperly sealed, aged or worn gaskets or a defective Schrader valve can also allow refrigerant to escape, also.

What to Do About It?

The first thing your contractor will do is search for the leak with the help of their own eyes and a UV leak detection kit. When the leak is found, your contractor will work to the best of their ability to repair the leak as quickly as possible. If the A/C evaporator coil requires replacement, your contractor may exchange it for a corrosion-resistant aluminum evaporator coil.

You can prevent future A/C evaporator coil leaks by cutting back on household products containing VOCs and upgrading your current air filter. A UV lamp installed near the evaporator coil can also help break down VOCs, as well as mold, viruses and bacteria.

To learn more, contact the professionals at Wolff Mechanical, proudly serving the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas for over 20 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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