Leak Detection Follow Up
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Leak Detection Follow Up

If you suspect an A/C system leak, prior to discharging or any additional diagnosis, attempt to find it first with a traditional electronic leak detector and look for any obvious indications of a leak, such as refrigerant oil residue.

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In response to our Leak Detection feature (April 2018), we received some excellent questions from our readers and learned about a new technology, so we’re going to go over a few additional points and share what we’ve learned.

A/C System Leaks
If you suspect an A/C system leak, prior to discharging or any additional diagnosis, attempt to find it first with a traditional electronic leak detector and look for any obvious indications of a leak, such as refrigerant oil residue.
It is always worth a quick inspection with your infrared light and goggles because there is a good chance someone has already put dye in the system.
If the system is completely empty, before you decide on the proper course of action, don’t forget that it is illegal to introduce refrigerant into a system that is known to have a leak. If you decide to charge it and discover a large leak, by the time you get your A/C machine to come to a screeching halt and switch over to recovery, you’ve already lost refrigerant — and money, into the atmosphere.
There are still some cases when you may find it necessary to use leak detection dye, but attempting to locate the leak first using an alternate method can save you time and money, and the earth will thank you.

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New Technology
There is a new technology that can help locate leaks on an empty A/C system without having to charge it, called Signature Air.
This new technology can be used to pressurize an A/C system and leaks can be easily pinpointed using a Signature Air leak detector. The unit itself uses a special fluid and compressed air. The corresponding leak detector is mapped to only detect Signature Air, so there is no possibility of a false reading. Originally developed for tractor-trailer brake systems, this new technology has proven its usefulness in air suspension systems and it provides an efficient, environmentally friendly solution for finding A/C leaks.

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High-Pressure Leaks
We also discussed high-pressure leak detectors designed for use with turbo and supercharged engines. When utilizing this technology, be careful about the amount of pressure you introduce into any given system. Keep in mind that there is a correct level of pressure for safe and effective high-pressure leak testing, as determined by OEMs. More pressure is not always better. Higher pressures above OEM recommendations (normally not to exceed 20 PSI) could result in a potentially dangerous environment to the vehicle and the technician.

Traditional Leak Detectors
We’ll wrap things up with a final note on traditional leak detectors (smoke machines). When considering nitrogen or compressed air as the pressure source, there are some manufacturers’ units that require the use of nitrogen, while others simply use regulated, compressed air. Ultimately it is your choice as to which one you decide to use, but be sure to check with the manufacturer of your leak detection equipment and read their safety recommendations, then determine if inert gas is required.

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If you have any additional questions, send an email to [email protected] TechShop would like to thank Redline Detection for their input.

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