Damage to refrigerant lines can lead to refrigerant leakage, which leads to reduced cooling efficiency. You can only preempt refrigerant line damage if you know why it occurs. Below are common reasons for these damages.
Refrigerant lines are typically made of metal (copper) that is susceptible to corrosion. Refrigerant line corrosion occurs in several ways. For example, many household products contain acid that can damage the lines if used near the AC unit. Examples include adhesive, cleaning products, and paint. Acid exposure is also common with ACs in coastal areas because of the salty ocean water. Even unusually high humidity increases corrosion risk. Lastly, urine is also acidic, so your pet can corrode your AC if it pees on it.
Mechanical Impact, Movement, or Perforation
A strong mechanical impact can damage the lines enough to cause refrigerant leakage. For example, a refrigerant line might suffer mechanical damage if something heavy falls on it, the compressor/condenser pad settles and affects refrigerant piping without sufficient flexibility, or someone accidentally perforates the lines during construction. In short, anything that affects the lines' structural integrity can damage them enough to cause leaks.
Different parts of the AC vibrate because of its moving parts. The AC motors, fans, and belts all have moving parts that transmit their vibrations to different parts of the system. A vibration isolator usually absorbs the movements to limit the damage. However, excess vibrations might reach the refrigerant lines as the system ages and the isolators suffer damage. A rigid refrigerant tube or missing clamps can magnify the vibrations' effect on the refrigerant lines and damage them.
The AC installation policy affects its refrigerant lines' integrity. For example, the risk of lien damage is high if the installer doesn't leave enough slack during line installation, fails to support the lines adequately, or thins the lines at the joints. Improper installation risk is high if an amateur or inexperienced person handles the installation.
Wear and Tear
Lastly, the materials that comprise the AC system, including the refrigerant line materials, will wear over the years. The AC usage, type, local weather, and climate determine the wear-and-tear rate. Over time, the joints weaken, and the seals deteriorate, increasing the risk of a refrigerant leak.
Reduced cooling, bubbling or hissing sounds, increased energy consumption, and ice on refrigerant are typical signs of refrigerant leakage. Contact an AC repair service for diagnosis and repair if you notice such signs.