How Your HVAC Technician Roots Out Refrigerant Leaks

If you're getting lukewarm air from your air conditioner or you're dealing with constant short-cycling, it's not just your A/C system getting old. A slow, but steady loss of refrigerant can cause these problems without you realizing what's happening. The toughest part of dealing with any type of refrigerant leak is actually pinpointing the source  —which is where your HVAC technician comes in.

Your technician has a few tricks up his or her sleeve to quickly find and stop refrigerant leaks in their tracks. The following highlights a few important tools in your HVAC technician's leak-detecting arsenal.

Dye Testing

Dye testing is a tried-and-true method for finding refrigerant leaks. Your HVAC technician will add refrigerant containing ultraviolet dye into the HVAC system. As the dye circulates, it'll find its way through nearly any leak it encounters. Technicians can then use a UV light to expose the dye and trace it back to its source.

When compared to other types of leak detection, the simplicity of dye testing makes it one of the most affordable methods available. However, HVAC technicians must be careful to use dyes that are compatible with the HVAC system being tested. Using incompatible dyes could potentially damage the unit.

Nitrogen Leak Detection

Nitrogen leak detection offers a greater degree of precision when compared to dye testing. However, the method itself tends to be more expensive than dye tests. Instead of simply adding a dye to the HVAC system, your technician removes any remaining refrigerant and replaces it with compressed nitrogen.

Your technician will monitor the HVAC system for any fluctuations that could be caused by a leak. Since nitrogen gas exists at higher pressures than most refrigerants, technicians are also able to hear a potential leak more clearly.

Electronic Leak Detection

HVAC technicians aren't afraid to embrace the latest technology that makes their jobs easier. An electronic leak detector does just that, allowing technicians to quickly locate refrigerant leaks of various types. The majority of electronic leak detectors use a heated diode or infrared technology to sample the air for chlorine or fluorine molecules. The higher the concentration of these molecules, the closer your technician gets to the source of the leak.

Unlike dye testing or nitrogen leak detection, HVAC techs don't have to remove or add anything to the air conditioner to find an ongoing leak. This makes electronic leak detection one of the easiest ways for technicians to find leaks. The only catch is that they're limited in where they can go. If there's a leak in a tight spot, including the evaporator coil, your technician will find it difficult to position the probe for a reliable reading.

Contact an HVAC contractor today for your air conditioning repair needs.