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Aircon Leak Detection DIY?


Jon White
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Anyone ever tried any of the leak detection products for Aircon that halfrauds sell??

Equally anyone got any rough idea what the going rate is for someone to professionally test and leak detect my aircon system??

I'm loathed to spend much money on it if its just going to turn out to be not worth fixing.

I'm aware that the halfords style re-fill cans arent much good so I'd get it re-gassed professionally once I've fixed the leak. I took it in for a regas the other day and was then told it had a leak when they tried to do it. However the place I went to only had the kit to re-gas it and not to leak detect it.

Any other thoughts anyone?

Cheers

Jon

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I had a long running leak hunt (under warranty) on my other car. What they used to finally find it was adding a dye to the system & running it. If halfrauds do this stuff i imagine it would be cheaper for you to do, as your not paying for some spanner monkey to stand around & watch it for 8 hrs.

Then take it in when you know where it is.

I know it can be difficult sometimes as there are many places that you can't get to easily to inspect i.e bulkhead passthrough, back of evaporator etc

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I had a long running leak hunt (under warranty) on my other car. What they used to finally find it was adding a dye to the system & running it. If halfrauds do this stuff i imagine it would be cheaper for you to do, as your not paying for some spanner monkey to stand around & watch it for 8 hrs.

Then take it in when you know where it is.

I know it can be difficult sometimes as there are many places that you can't get to easily to inspect i.e bulkhead passthrough, back of evaporator etc

Thats the sort of thing they do - they do stuff in an aerosol can that you hook up to the valve in it and use a UV light to detect it with. My guess is its a cheapo version of what the professionals use.

Jon

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Thats the sort of thing they do - they do stuff in an aerosol can that you hook up to the valve in it and use a UV light to detect it with. My guess is its a cheapo version of what the professionals use.

Jon

the stuff on mine was not UV, its visible bright yellow/green

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I think you can buy a 2 part kit from Partco (one of our local autofactors), inject one part into the system and spray the other on the unions, bit like weld flaw detector, IMS serves it wasnt too pricey - might be worth a go?

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Our local friendly AC expert (AirCon Bob) said that bu a long way, the best option is to use soapy water and a little bit of gas to pressurize the system. It will detect leaks smaller than any of the more complex solutions will see.

The other one he used was a blow lamp with a rubber hose connected to one of the air inlets on the burner. The venturi effect sucks air through the rubber hose. If there is any refrigerant gas mixed with that air, the flame turns red/orange. You can wave the end of the hose around all the unions looking for leaks. He tended to use that where access was restricted - but the soapy water was still more sensitive!

Si

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I'd just like to point out that R134a decomposes in to a phosgene type vapour when exposed to high temperatures. :excl:

I didn't say it was good for you, just something that is done!

Si

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to accuratly leak test an aircon system you need to de gas it and fill with a nitrogen charge to find the leak, any good aircon company should do this as they should have nitrogen to be able to leak test, it will soon be a requirement by law to have nitrogen to do this.

you can have the dye injected into the system , this will enable the leak to be detected easily

using soapy water can be done but dont use fairy liquid neat on aluminuim pipes it can corrode them there is a non corrosive leak detector available that dont corrode them

using a little bit of gas to find the leak is also illegal and should hse or environment agency find out its a big fine and poss jail sentence

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'Anything' is only DIY if you have the right kit to hand. When you have to buy the tools then you have to take into account how often you might use the tools, or what the inconvenience factor will be of not having the tool.

When my A/C has been done, while I watch, the initial leak test is by nitrogen pressure, and sometimes you can hear the nitrogen leaking out. Post installation of the new condenser (it's always been a corroded condenser), the test is by vacuum.

Two values of the vacuum, any moisture inside the system boils off and is extracted, and once the pump is switched off, we wait to see the vacuum is held, thus proving there is no leaking seals.

Thus if you already have a Mityvac then you might (given suitable connectors), be able to DIY a vacuum test.

Last time, I changed the condenser (the system had emptied itself), and I had a local mobile guy come round to the house. This means you may save some money - condensers are available from ebay shops, but first find your local man and ensure he is happy to co-operate.

Paying in three stages spreads the financial load :-)

Pay for the pressure test and finding the leak.

Pay for the condenser.

Pay for the recharge.

Cheers.

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My guys use the Ultra violet dye stuff with a UV black lite. Some leaks are so small that it takes a while to be visable.

This company sells DIY tracer kits www.tracerline.com I haven't used them but saw the demo at a show a few weeks ago and it looked very good.

S.

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The other thing to consider is that having detected the leak (if one exists) you will then have to get the system re-filled anyway which will require the services of a proper aircon specialist. Why not just go to one in the first place? I have just had my system checked and re-filled (albeit in France) for €130 in TVA @ 19.6% so not a huge expense IMHO. I also now know that I have to run it for about 15 mins each week to stop the seals drying out and letting the coolant escape!

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Basically becasue in typical landrover owner fashion I object to paying some monkey to work on my truck if its a job I can possibly do myself! In short I'm a cheapskate, and if I can find the leak and fix it myself then I'm quids in, plus if its going to be too expensive to fix I simply aint going to bother!

I've already takin it in for re-gassing which is how they told me it'd got a leak in the first place.....

Jon

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Compressed air then, and hope you can hear the leaks.

Sure, you are going to introduce moisture, but you are going to do that when you open the system to replace the leaking seals / corroded condenser.

You've left it so long (you don't say how long, but it's some time isn't it?) that the seals will have dried out anyway.

In future, pick a better quality monkey. Sometimes it's wiser to pay for a good service, not the cheapskate one you chose first time around.

Sorry, but no-one here can help you if you won't help yourself :-(

I know, unwelcome news, it always gets the messenger shot.

Cheers

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Compressed air then, and hope you can hear the leaks.

Sure, you are going to introduce moisture, but you are going to do that when you open the system to replace the leaking seals / corroded condenser.

You've left it so long (you don't say how long, but it's some time isn't it?) that the seals will have dried out anyway.

In future, pick a better quality monkey. Sometimes it's wiser to pay for a good service, not the cheapskate one you chose first time around.

Sorry, but no-one here can help you if you won't help yourself :-(

I know, unwelcome news, it always gets the messenger shot.

Cheers

The aircon hasnt worked since I've owned the vehicle (which is only 4 months - I've no idea how long its not been working for).

I didnt chose a cheapskate service first time around, I just went to my local place that I trust. However they only have the kit to regas and not to leak detect.

Jon

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The aircon hasnt worked since I've owned the vehicle (which is only 4 months - I've no idea how long its not been working for).

I didnt chose a cheapskate service first time around, I just went to my local place that I trust. However they only have the kit to regas and not to leak detect.

Jon

surely that contravenes some sort of EPA thing over there ?

Here no one can touch any form of refrigeration/A/C system without being licensed and to have this they need all the kit for leak detection/recovery as well as charging.

Anyway, as was previously mentioned, 150psi of dry nitrogen and soapy water finds leaks that the black lights and electronic detectors don't (I have three electronic detectors ;) )

Mostly they will be faulty O rings, although I've found a few cracked fittings from time to time, including mounting pads and the odd compressor casting.

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