AC unitThe evaporator coil in your air conditioner or heat pump is an important component that helps with the transfer of heat that provides indoor heating or cooling. In some cases, A/C evaporator coils can develop leaks that hinder the heating and cooling process, allowing refrigerant to escape the system.

How Evaporator Leaks Develop

  • Physical damage: Any physical damage to the evaporator coil can impair system function and, if severe enough, could create openings in the coils that cause them to leak.
  • Chemical reactions: Certain substances known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can react with the copper evaporator coils are made from. VOCs include materials such as aerosol sprays, air fresheners, cleaning solutions, or emissions from furnishings or building materials that have been treated with chemicals during the manufacturing process. When the VOCs contact the copper of the coils, formic acid can be produced. This acid produces corrosion that eats through the coils and creates leaks.
  • Formic acid corrosion: Other chemical reactions can cause formic acid to develop in and on the evaporator coils. Most commonly, it results from the reaction between copper, water and oxygen — three substances that are plentiful in the environment around evaporator coils.

How You Can Prevent Evaporator Coil Leaks 

  • Replace the copper: Evaporator coils made of copper can sometimes be replaced with other material that doesn’t produce the same types of chemical reactions, such as plastic or aluminum.
  • Clean the coils: Regular cleaning of the evaporator coils will help remove acid, bacteria and material that can harm coils or interfere with airflow.
  • Reduce the presence of VOCs: Limit the use of material containing VOCs, especially in the vicinity of the evaporator coils.
  • Increase airflow: Increase airflow and ventilation around the evaporator coils to remove VOCs from the air around the coils.

Since 1986, Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning has served HVAC customers in Savannah and the surrounding Georgia communities. Contact us today for more information on the causes and prevention of A/C evaporator coil leaks.