Air Conditioning Repair: A Look At 3 Different Freon Leak Tests

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All air conditioners run on a cooling agent. In most cases, the cooling agent is Freon, which is an Environmental Protection Agency controlled substances that has been deemed as hazardous if it is released into the environment. On top of being hazardous, low levels of Freon can cause accelerated wear and tear on your unit, compressor failure, reduced efficiency, and more. A 10% loss of Freon can result in a 20% increase in your energy bills. To make sure that your air conditioning unit is not low on Freon, you should be inspecting it for leaks regularly. There are several different tests that can easily detect leaks. 

Inject Colored Dye Visible Under UV Light

Although the fluorescent dye test is easy to do, you should get a professional to show you the ropes first. The fluorescent dye test is the most accurate out of all of the leak tests that are out there, as it can detect leaks that are even smaller than 1/8 ounce per year. This test can offer an accurate diagnosis, and can also be used as a part of a comprehensive preventive maintenance program. 

To start, you or a professional will inject a colored fluorescent dye into the refrigerant. The oil lubricant of Freon will couple with the fluorescent dye, which can be traced with a UV light source later on. The fluorescent dye does not affect or impair the properties of the refrigerant and is completely safe. The air conditioning unit will need to be run for several minutes in order for the fluorescent dye to have a chance at circulating through the entire unit. The UV light source will pinpoint the exact location of any leaks within minutes. 

Color Changes In The Flame With A Halide Test

The halide leak detection test is also quite visual like the fluorescent dye test; however, it works by detecting chloride or fluoride present in the Freon. These molecules are scientifically classified as halides, and they have a recognizable pattern when they are exposed to a flame.

This test needs to be performed with extreme caution, as there are some safety hazards involved. A torch leak probing hose is used to probe the refrigerant tube. The torch leak probing hose has a central flame on one end and a vacuum on the other. If the hose manages to suck up any halides, the central flame will change colors from a bluish green to purple. 

Look For Oil Traces Manually 

Freon contains an oil lubricant that will coat over metal. The oil can be easily identified, as it is dark brown in color. This test may not be as accurate as the other methods; however, it can help you quickly identify whether there are any leaks, even if you do not have any specialized equipment.

Before you begin, remove all of the pressure from the system. Then, you want to remove all of the caps on the ports, service valves and kink valves to look for traces of oil. If there is a Freon leak, you should see a clear, dark brown coat overtop the inside of the valves and the caps; in this case, you will have to replace the Schrader valves before tightening everything up again.

Conclusion

Once you have identified the source of the leak, you can replace the faulty parts or seal up the leak. By taking action quickly, you can prevent low levels of Freon from having a damaging effect on the condition of the air conditioning unit. By sniffing out where the leaks are, you will also be able to improve the overall efficiency of the air conditioning unit by preventing energy loss. For more information, visit a website like http://www.capefearair.com.

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15 April 2015

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