3 Ways To Detect Leaking Refrigerant In Your HVAC System

Refrigerant leaks are one of the most serious conditions that an air conditioner can face, since it will gradually reduce the ability of the system to provide cool air. For that reason, it is important to have your AC inspected for leaks on a regular basis. If you would like to learn more about how an HVAC technician can track down pesky leaks, read on. This article will discuss three effective leak detection tactics.

Soap Solution

The oldest means of detecting refrigerant leaks remains one of the most popular. A solution of soap and water is applied to refrigerant lines or other areas where a leak is suspected. The idea is that, if refrigerant is indeed leaking out, the escaping gas will cause bubbles to form at the leak site.

The soap solution method of leak detection is both inexpensive and generally effective. That said, it does have certain drawbacks. For one thing, it does not always produce reliable results when used on outdoor components when windy conditions are prevailing. Likewise, it can struggle to identify especially small or slow leaks.

Halide Torch

The halide torch method represents a step up in terms of sophistication. A halide torch is a special type of combustion torch used specifically for detecting refrigerant leaks. The only criteria for successful implementation is that the refrigerant in question contains chlorine. Fortunately, most refrigerants utilized today meet this requirement.

When exposed to the presence of chlorine, the flame at the tip of a halide torch will turn from blue to green. This method represents a simple and incontrovertible means of refrigerant leak detection. That said, many technicians shy away from the use of halide torches because, just as with the soap solution test, they may not yield accurate results when dealing with especially tiny leaks. In such cases, the color change in the flame at the tip of the torch may simply be too imperceptible for the naked eye to detect.

Ultrasonic Leak Detectors

Ultrasonic leak detectors represent a somewhat newer and more cutting edge means of locating refrigerant leaks. The operating principle here is that the pressure of the gas escaping through a refrigerant leak site is generally so great that it causes a very high pitched sound. This sound, which is not detectable by the human ear, is capable of being registered by a special ultrasonic "listening" device. When this device detects such a sound, it emits an audible sound of its own, thus allowing the operator to narrow down the source of the leak.

Talk with a company like A-1 American Services today for more information.