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I was drilling in my drywall to install a drywall screw, all of a sudden high-pressure air starts coming out, after awhile it stopped.

When I looked inside I could see copper pipe with the hole I just drilled.. What did I hit? I'm thinking it has something to do with my A/C as there was no water, just high-pressure air.

How would I go about fixing something like this?

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  • That was probably refrigerant. I'd do some research into any health concerns, pronto. – isherwood May 2 '17 at 23:46
  • Ditto that. Sounds like you drilled through to your cooler. Freon displaces air so you will die if you are in a room that fills up with it. – SDsolar May 3 '17 at 3:30
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    Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the fact that it is nontoxic is the entire point of using Freon instead of any of hundreds of other gases that also would function well. Every gas has a latent heat of vaporization, freon isn't special in that regard. – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 3 '17 at 4:46
  • I am surprised that refrigerant lines are not hit more often than they are. A lot of people just aren't aware of pipes in walls. Perhaps there should be armoring in the wall where those lines go through, or maybe a warning medallion low on the wall. – Jim Stewart May 3 '17 at 11:42
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Unless you have a home workshop with an air compressor (and I'm quite sure you don't) you have punctured your air conditioner refrigerant line and drained the system.

The "air" was actually refrigerant. While not toxic it's certainly not healthy and your room now has several pounds of it floating around at floor level.

You will want to do the following, more-or-less immediately:

  • remove any pets or children to upper floors or (better) somewhere else.

  • open windows

  • ventilate the room / floor. Rent an industrial fan with a large duct, put the fan in the room and the duct leading outside. Any rental place will have one. Tell them what happened or you will probably get a carpet-drying fan. We need to remove air, not move it around.

In the near future, you will be cutting open that part of the wall. Call an air conditioner serviceman with the make and model of your unit and tell him you punctured the line and drained the system. He will fix the line and refill it with new refrigerant. Don't try fixing the pipe yourself - the joint has to be gastight with the proper parts or it will leak again. The parts & labour for fixing the pipe will be less than the sales tax on the refrigerant, and the guy just might do it for no extra charge (sympathy for the $1000+ you're paying for new gas).

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  • I don't believe a fresh charge of refrigerant will be $1000. – Jim Stewart May 3 '17 at 0:22
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    If you factor in opening a wall to get to the pipe to fix it, depending on where you live, it might well be. – SDsolar May 3 '17 at 3:32
  • @JimStewart If it's an R22 system, it could be close to that just for the refrigerant. – Tester101 May 3 '17 at 10:16
  • Yes, the total bill may be $1000, but the claim I questioned was "$1000+ . . . for new gas". Looks like one can get R-410a for $7 per lb, but maybe this is only for sale to licensed refrig techs. ebay.com/itm/… – Jim Stewart May 3 '17 at 11:23
  • R-22 is three or four times the price of R-410a, but that still is not $1000 to recharge a residential system. Also not sure if R-22 purchase requires a license. Could it be that some HVAC services are marking up their refrigerant more than is ethical? The high price of refrigerant charged to the consumer may not just be government regulations. ebay.com/itm/like/… – Jim Stewart May 3 '17 at 11:35

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