My AC wasn't working so I called a tech. They came out and determined that my refrigerant levels were low and added refrigerant as they explained 4 lbs worth. They said I may have a leak and added dye on the outside unit to potentially discover the leak. $800 later my AC was working perfectly fine and everyone was happy.

Fast forward five days, my pipe on the inside is completely frozen and my AC is not working. It's running on the outside but not on the inside. I shut the system down and laid towels around the inside unit while it defrosts.

Question: What can be the problem, considering the tech was just here five days ago and gave me more refrigerant?

I'm down a good chunk of money and just trying to better understand what is causing this issue. I'd like to better educate myself and know that what I'm being told about the problem is the actual problem without any hidden meaning and agenda.

  • 2
    Sounds like they didn't find the leak. Or possibly they found one leak, fixed it, thought that was it, and it turns out there is another leak. Hard to say for sure. But 5 days after $ 800 and 4lbs. refrigerant sounds like they owe you at a minimum another fix and at most a refund. Jul 10, 2022 at 13:56
  • 1
    The guy got back to me and told me, he would need to come back and check the dye, and i told him five days after coming out of pocket youre coming and diagnosing everything for free and that im not paying him a penny…This is so frustrating.
    – anova12861
    Jul 10, 2022 at 16:33
  • If the leak was bad enough to drop 4 lbs of refrigerant in 5 days no leak checker should have been needed you should have seen it and smelled it even outside that is a massive leak an overcharge is more likely. Melt the ice and see if it works if it does it is most likely overcharged.and it will work for a while and start icing over time especially when the temp differential is low or the inside air is cooled some. A leak how old is the system or the last top off
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 10, 2022 at 18:41

3 Answers 3


Your expectations are wrong, and you are stubborn

You expected that the A/C tech would come out, identify the problem via ???? super-skill, fix the problem in 1 trip, and problem solved! That is a fantasy. That is not reality.

What actually happened was, this was part 1 and part 2 is expected. The whole point of a dye marker is to come back LATER to see where it leaked. And you were told this in plain language.

You just didn't want to hear that, so your brain deleted it. Soon as you felt the cold air (from the dye charge) you declared victory and called it FIXED.

The repairman never said that!

What's supposed to happen: The A/C guy comes back and searches your system for the dye marker, which reveals the location of the leak. Repairs the leak, you're all set. Easy peasy.

What is likely to happen: you fire the guy, leave a nasty Yelp review, and call somebody else. They do the same thing, tell you "call us when it stops working", you don't listen, fire them too, repeat the cycle. Eventually you decide the unit is un-fixable and buy a whole new system.

  • You must have a bad HVAC tech or experience as it is normal to get a good service in 1 visit and many times leaks are minor and take years to deplete the system this is why dye is used because the leaks are so small even the best detectors don’t find them or cannot get close enough to detect them. (And I don’t do much service work with the exception of friends for the most part).
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 10, 2022 at 18:37

You have a leak. They couldn't find it so they loaded dye and more refrigerant. Now that you have leaked out more refrigerant (along with the dye) they should be able to find the leak. Call them out again.

Was this not explained to you? Most AC companies would have planned on coming out a day or two after to check levels and look for a leak.

  • No they mentioned that the refrigerant needs to fully leak out in order for the dye to work, or if they came back too soon they would have to blow out all the refrigerant. Im fuming, five days later and back at not working again.
    – anova12861
    Jul 10, 2022 at 16:28
  • I would seriously question that "all the refrigerant" needs to leak out for them to find the leak, @anova12861. However, this really is a standard practice. You'll end up fuming at every HVAC company within 30 miles...
    – FreeMan
    Jul 11, 2022 at 18:19

It looks like they probably overcharged your unit.

For a central air system. Turn your compressor off but leave the air handler fan on and it will defrost the coil faster.

On some units the compressor can be turned of at the panel normally marked AC (outside unit compressor).

Then turn the thermostat fan only on it should start right up and blow air over the iced up evaporator coil.

If this won’t work sometimes the outside disconnect needs to be shut off pull the disconnect out or flip the switch at the unit.

For a ductless turn it to heat mode to melt the ice quickly or just turn off.

Get ahold of the company and let them know! (they probably did not properly check the super heat and sub cooling).

As far as the cost that is off topic but in-line with many today as the refrigerant cost have gone up and 100$ a lb is not unusual + service call

After it is defrosted you can run it for short times it will probably continue to ice up.

  • 2
    Good points, as usual, Ed. I had a similar problem in my A/C, turned out that I hadn't changed the filter in the air handler for a while and it was pretty dirty. It's one of those 4" thick pleated filters that can catch individual molecules (LOL) of dust and pollen. I'd been running it 24/7 on fan mode for quite a while here due to pollen. Replacing the filter solved the icing problem on the evaporator coil. There just wasn't enough airflow with the plugged up filter. Jul 10, 2022 at 15:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.