On a hot summer day, you may be sitting at home, performing an innocent activity like watching the television or reading, when all of a sudden you hear an odd sound. Your AC unit has kicked off, but there’s a lingering sighing or hissing noise. It’s something you’ve never heard before from your heating and air conditioning unit. Thinking that perhaps it was just overtired from working on a hot day, you shrug it off and resume your activities.
However, when the air conditioning unit kicks on again, you take notice. This time, you actively shut it off and you notice once more that the sighing or hissing sound occurs. This isn’t a sound that you’ve heard before, and because of that, you may not understand what it means. This article will explain what the noise indicates, the danger it presents, and the other signs that you may want to notice along with it.
Trouble On The Horizon
If your heating and cooling system sighs or hisses at any point, then it could indicate that the refrigerant is low. This liquid, often called Freon, is what is used to turn the warm air in your house into the cool air. Whether your AC unit is low or there is a leak, the unit begins to hiss and rattle as a result. A refrigerant leak is especially problematic.
Freon can be a dangerous chemical to inhale–or go near–if exposed to for a long time. Because it is colorless and mostly odorless, you can’t immediately tell that there is a problem. However, Freon effectively shuts down your ability to breathe oxygen after a period of exposure.
Long exposure to Freon can cause breathing problems, a buildup of fluid in your lungs, organ damage, and even sudden death. Some of the symptoms that you may be exposed to leaking Freon in your home include irritation to your eyes, ears, and throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, cough, a chemical burn to the skin, and dizziness. For those who have had extended exposure to Freon, some of the more severe signs of poisoning include fluid buildup in the lungs, bleeding of the lungs, burning in your throat, vomiting up blood, decreased mental status, difficulty in breathing, irregular heartbeat, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Losing consciousness is especially deadly during a Freon leak. If you are home alone, and you pass out, you can continue to inhale the Freon and cause more damage to your body. Unless you are rescued, you could succumb to Freon poisoning and perish. Because of the high risk that Freon can pose, it’s important that you understand the other signs that your heating and air unit might be in trouble.
1. Cooling Takes A Long Time
Besides the hissing or sighing noise, you should also take note as to how long it takes for your house to cool off. While it may be understandable if your AC unit takes a while to properly cool your home on an extremely hot day, if you notice that this is regular, then it may be a sign of a larger issue. Because refrigerant is involved in the process of transforming hot air into cool air, a house that is consistently warm means that the refrigerant is either low or leaking. Either way, it might be best to have someone check the status of your unit.
2. Higher Energy Bill
Besides the usual increase in price in energy, you should keep an eye on your bill to determine if there’s any unusual increase. Because AC units that have a refrigerant leak require more power over time to properly cool your house, that’s more energy that is being consumed. This increase in energy usage is going to be displayed in your energy bill. One way to decrease that energy bill is to have someone make sure that your AC unit is working at top order. Through efficiency, AC units make the most of the energy consumption, and you may just find that your energy bill actually decreases.
3. Ice Buildup
One inspection you can perform yourself is to see if there’s any ice on the refrigerant line. Simply walk outside to your AC unit and look for the copper line. This is the refrigerant line. If there’s a buildup of ice along it, then you probably have a refrigerant leak. In such cases, you’ll want to hire someone immediately to fix the dangerous problem.