In the United States, three-quarters of homes have air conditioners, which use about 6% of all U.S. electricity. Because of this, approximately 117 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air. Air conditioners keep us comfortable on hot days. They should also operate in a manner that keeps us safe. Freon poisoning is a common concern when your AC unit is leaking. Still, is a freon leak dangerous? Here is what you need to know about freon exposure.
What Is Freon?
Freon was invented in 1928. It was meant to be a safe solution to cool food. Three American companies collaborated in its creation, including DuPont, General Motors, and Frigidaire.
Today, the most common type for homes is Freon 22. Professionals call it R22. It is used for cooling appliances and is also a propellant in aerosol cans.
It is now a law that appliances manufactured after 2010 cannot contain freon. The most apparent home appliance that this would affect is the HVAC system. Homes made before 2010 likely use freon to cool their air.
In short, freon exposure for a long time will cause many health systems to fail. Additionally, it is a chlorofluorocarbon, and studies show this links to the ozone layer’s depletion.
Freon Is Toxic
It is dangerous to inhale freon. If you have a significant leak, it can lead to freon poisoning. Typical symptoms of exposure include:
- Coughing and throat irritation
- Ear irritation
- Eye irritation
- Throat irritation
You can get a rash if freon were to get on your skin. It’s a liquid. It could even lead to symptoms of frostbite from exposure.
If you are in a confined space or experience freon exposure for a long time, you can experience more severe health symptoms. These include:
- Bleeding in the lungs
- Burning sensation in the esophagus
- Decreased mental status
- Fluid buildup
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting blood
If you are your loved one accidentally were to inhale freon, go immediately somewhere you can breathe fresh air. You may also need to seek medical attention.
What to Do When You Have a Leak
Call a professional AC repair company if you believe you have a refrigerant leak. People often have misconceptions about their system. Some people think that their units use a little refrigerant for each cycle, and this will cause a slow leak over time.
However, refrigerant is continuously recharging. Therefore, the refrigerant level in your system should never be low. If your refrigerant is low, there is a reason. Freon leaks are caused by factory defects, improper installation, or metal corrosion in your AC unit.
Signs You Have a Leak
The first indication that your air conditioner leaks freon is if your home is noticeably warmer. When you are less comfortable, there may be a leak causing the issue. The unit is unable to remove the warm air because of it.
Another sign is that your air conditioner is frozen. A system that is working properly has evaporator coils that absorb heat. There is no reason to see ice on the unit. This happens if the refrigerant is low.
Freon Leak Smell
While it is primarily odorless, you can detect a freon smell. It is like a sweetish car coolant or chloroform. Since it is heavier than air, it won’t stay long and will quickly drop to the floor. When you smell it, you will not instantly pass out. Still, it’s dangerous, so go get fresh air, and you may need to see a physician.
Energy Costs Are Rising
If there is a leak, the AC unit must work harder to cool your home. This will reflect on your energy bill. You will notice a spike in how much you are paying.
Sometimes, you can hear the leak when the evaporator coil has a crack or hole. There is built-up pressure. It wants to escape in any way possible. This results in an unusual sound, often like a hiss.
Recommendations to Avoid Freon Leaks and Exposure
Now that you understand the dangers of freon and how to tell if you leak, here are the next steps. First, you must realize that there is likely significant damage if you have a leak. The longer you own your home and its AC unit, the more likely things will happen.
It would help if you prepared yourself to act when the equipment fails. Consider the age of the unit, too. If you need to have it serviced frequently, you would be better off spending the money on a replacement.
Keep a log of how often you need service. Also, keep track of parts that a technician may need to replace. Finally, check your unit for leaks. While studying the AC unit for a freon leak, it could be leaking water instead, and you want to check this too. If one part of your AC unit is breaking, there is likely more malfunctioning than just that.
Is a Freon Leak Dangerous?
You may brush it off, but you shouldn’t. When someone asks you, Is a freon leak dangerous? Tell them yes!
It harms your health when you have a freon leak; repair or replace it immediately. You may also need to seek medical attention, depending on the amount and duration of freon exposure.
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