Leak on a refrigerant pipe

Guilbert Express

25 January, 2023
Home Pro tips Heating, air conditioning Leak on a refrigerant pipe

The installation of an air conditioner is not infallible and can become fragile over time, so it can happen that a refrigerant tube leaks. There are various methods to check your equipment. The foam bomb, for example, is a very practical and effective leak detector. Here’s how to proceed if your system fails.

Detect the source of the leak.

If you notice a malfunction of your refrigeration equipment, you must proceed step by step to determine the cause. Use a leak detector on the most strategic places.

The leak detector of a refrigerant tube.

You have 3 methods to detect the leak in your refrigeration tube.

  1. The foam bomb is an economical leak detector to purchase, both simple and effective to use: you spray your aqueous solution and, where the leak is, you will see foam appear.
  2. Electronic detection requires a larger investment with the acquisition of a specialized electronic detector.
  3. Fluorescence detection involves injecting a fluorescent tracer into the refrigeration system. You then shine an UV light onto the circuit to trace the fluorescent points that appear at the points where the leak is located.

Before you start looking for leaks with your leak detector, make a methodical and comprehensive search plan. Note all the parts you need to check: condenser, expansion valve, evaporator, joints, bracket, connecting tubes, valves, etc.

Focus first on the following weak points which are most likely to be the source of the leak.

1 – At the level of the dudgeons

Leaking dudgeons are more likely to be due to a tightening problem, rather than a failure, so check the fastener with a torque wrench. If the leakage persists, you should change the dudgeons.

2 – At the level of the elbows

Elbows represent a weakness in the air conditioner, as bending the tube has made the copper thinner at that point. It then wears out more quickly than the rest of the equipment. If so, the part must be replaced after recovering the refrigerant.

3 – At the level of refrigeration tubes that rub against each other

If the refrigerant lines were not properly secured at the time of installation, they may rub against each other, causing brittleness due to premature wear. These lines will need to be replaced, but you should take the precaution of securing the new ones better, so that the problem does not recur.

4 – At an overloaded weld

All welding of the air conditioner can present flaws over time. When the initial brazing is done, the welder must be careful not to add too much material, as the risk of air present in the weld is increased.

The solder paste can also crystallize and then crumble, causing the leak.

The repair of the refrigerant line leak by a refrigeration technician.

It is strictly forbidden for anyone without a refrigeration certification to attempt to repair an air conditioner. A refrigerant leak can have disastrous consequences, as any incorrect handling can cause a fire or explosion.

Regardless of the nature and size of your refrigeration installation, you are always subject to a requirement for regular inspection by a certified technician. The frequency of this visit depends on various criteria including the type of refrigerant used, the tonnage used, its GWP (Global Warming Potential), its CO2 equivalent tonnes, etc.