An atmosphere suspected of containing a halogen vapor is drawn through the rubber exploring hose into the torch burner of the detector. Here the air passes over the copper reactor plate, which is heated to incandescence. If there is a minute trace of a halogen refrigerant present, the color of the torch flame changes from blue (neutral) to green as the halogen refrigerant contacts the reactor plate. The shade of green depends upon the amount of halogen refrigerant; a pale green color shows a small concentration and a darker green color, a heavier concentration. Too much of a halogen refrigerant causes the flame to burn with a vivid purple color. Extreme concentrations of a halogen refrigerant may extinguish the flame by crowding out the oxygen available from the air.
Normally, a halide leak detector is used for R-12 and R-22 systems. In testing for leaks always start at the highest point of the system and work towards the lowest point because halogen refrigerants are heavier than air.
When using a leak detector, you will obtain the best results by following the Precautions listed below.
1. Be sure the reactor plate is properly in place.
2. Adjust the flame so it does not extend beyond the end of the burner. (A small flame is more sensitive than a large flame. If it is hard to light the torch when it is adjusted to produce a small flame, block the end of the exploring hose until the fuel ignites; then gradually open the hose.)
3. Clean out the rubber exploring hose if the flame continues to have a white or yellow color. (A white or yellow flame is an indication that the exploring tube is partially blocked with dirt.)
4.Check to see that air is being drawn into the exploring tube; this check can be made from time to time by holding the end of the hose to your ear.
5. Hold the end of the exploring hose close to the joint being tested to prevent dilution of the sample by stray air currents.
6. Move the end of the exploring hose slowly and completely around each joint being tested. (Leak testing cannot be safely hurried. There is a definite time lag between the moment when air enters the exploring hose and the moment it reaches the reactor plate; permit enough time for the sample to reach the reactor plate.)
If a greenish flame is noted, repeat the test in the same area until the source of the refrigerant is located.
Always follow a definite procedure in testing for refrigerant leaks, so none of the joints are missed. Even the smallest leaks are important. However slight a leak may seem, it eventually empties the system of its charge and causes faulty operation. In the long run, the extra time spent in testing each joint will be justified. A refrigerant system should never be recharged until all leaks are discovered and repaired.
The most sensitive leak detector of all is the electronic type. The principle of operation is based on the dielectric difference of gases. In operation, the gun is turned on and adjusted in a normal atmosphere. The leak-detecting probe is then passed around the surfaces suspected of leaking. If there is a leak, no matter how tiny, the halogenated refrigerant is drawn into the probe. The leak gun then gives out a piercing sound, or a light flashes, or both, because the new gas changes the resistance in the circuit.
When using an electronic leak detector, minimize drafts by shutting off fans or other devices that cause air movement. Always position the sniffer below the suspected leak. Because refrigerant is heavier than air, it drifts downward. Always remove the plastic tip and clean it before each use. Avoid clogging it with dirt and lint. Move the tip slowly around the suspected leak.
Soap and water may be used to test for leakage of refrigerant with a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure. Make a soap and water solution by mixing a lot of soap with water to a thick consistency. Let it stand until the bubbles have disappeared, and then apply it to the suspected leaking joint with a soft brush. Wait for bubbles to appear under the clear, thick soap solution.
Find extremely small leaks by carefully examining suspected places with a strong light. If necessary, use a mirror to view the rear side of joints or other connections suspected of leaking.
Quality refrigeration repair includes preventing loss of refrigerant in the system. Whenever a component is removed from the system, the normallyContinue Reading