Using An Electronic Refrigerant Leak Detector
How to use an electronic refrigerant leak detector
by Jason Miller
Using a refrigerant leak detector is a relatively simple exercise, but a few tips can make it far simpler. If your cars air conditioner is just not blowing as cold as it used to and you have had your system recharged with Freon recently, you may have a leak. The first order of business is to locate and find it. One of the best and easiest to use tools is a refrigerant leak detector. This handy little device can sniff out the leaking refrigerant and give off an audible alarm to tell where the gas is escaping. Once you turn on the leak detector, its time to begin your search. Start with holding the sensing tip as close as you can to the air conditioner components and move the tip at about 2 inches per second. Move the tip under the tubing and check carefully around bends, especially fittings. Remember refrigerant is heavier than air and sinks to the ground. So it is best to check under tubing and the lower areas of the A/C system. When you first start to scan the area, set your refrigerant leak detector to the least sensitive setting. After the alarm begins to sound, you are getting close. Now begin to adjust the sensitivity to higher settings to really pinpoint the source of the leak. You may have to use a soap solution to find exactly where the leak is once the area is pin pointed with the leak detector. What do you do if you have gone through the whole air conditioning system and still cannot locate the refrigerant leak? First make sure you are in a relatively closed off environment, like an auto shop or your garage. Wind may be blowing the refrigerant away from the car and make it impossible for the refrigerant leak detector to get a lock on the source. Another problem you may have is finding the general area but there is not enough refrigerant being expelled to really nail down the leak. In that case, you can try wrapping the area with some type of plastic wrap and let the Freon accumulate. After you take the wrapping off, enough refrigerant should have gathered. If you find more than one leak or suspect it, fix the larger leak first and then look for the smaller ones. If you still cannot find the leak, your refrigerant leak detector may need to be cleaned. The sensing tip of the probe is the most sensitive part of the unit and after time it may become clogged with dirt, grease, and oil. Inspect the tip for dirt. If it looks dirty to the naked eye, it probably cannot get a good reading. The sensing tip can be cleaned with almost any vaporizable solvents. We would recommend a simple, denatured alcohol. Warm, soapy water is also a good back up choice if nothing else is available. After washing the tip, allow it to dry completely before attempting another scan. Using a refrigerant leak detector is a relatively simple exercise and can save you time and money on expensive car air conditioning repairs. Also, the latest EPA rules require service technicians to repair any excessive refrigerant leaks they discover in air conditioners. The old days of buying a can of R12 at the local auto parts store to top youre A/C are long over.
About the Author
Jason is the webmaster for Red Hill Supply- Refrigerant Leak Detector