AC Unit leaking freon; Now making a clicking nose near drain pan?


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Old 06-01-09, 01:52 PM
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AC Unit leaking freon; Now making a clicking nose near drain pan?

Hi,
When the AC unit is on, there is a clicking(loud dripping?) noise near the drain pipe/pan. The pipe goes from the coils(above the furnace) to a black drain pipe near the washer and dryer. If I put my hand under the white pipe, then the sound cannot be heard. The white pipe goes into a black drain pipe and it is open(there is no cap between the two).

My AC unit, 3 years old York, has had a freon leak problem for the last 2 years. Towards the end of last summer, it was not cooling properly, so the company that installed came by and said there might be a leak. It was very hot that week, so they refilled the freon and said that they can check the leak next May(May 2009). They came by today and refilled the freon again and put in some red dye? in order to locate the leak. They also did a pressure check with the unit off and said all of it came back out, so there is no leak inside the house and that it is mostly the condenser. It is not a problem because there is a warranty to the condenser. So, they refilled the freon with the dye and said they will be back next week.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 06-01-09, 02:22 PM
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They have to stop topping-off the charge and they must find and fix the leak. What they are doing is not professional, is unacceptable. They are probably just hoping that you'd go away and stop calling, or that the Fall season would come soon and you disappear.

You sure have a leak from what you report. Please know that when there is a leak, not only refrigerant escapes, you also lose some oil together with the refrigerant, so sooner or later the life of your compressor will be compromised.
 
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Old 06-01-09, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for the reply. They were going to find the leak last summer, but it was towards the end and the vacuum method they were going to use required not using the AC, but it was too hot to do that. They came by today to find the leak and decided that there was no problem inside, so they put in some sort of red dye into the freon to see where the problem is. They will be back next week to check it.

Do you know why the ticking noise is coming? It seems to be coming from inside the coils and is traveling out of the drain pipe, ultimately becoming visible. Because when I put my hand under the white pipe leading into the black drain pipe, the sound stops.
 
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Old 06-01-09, 02:45 PM
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Sorry, I just don't seem to be able to get a mental picture of this noise you're talking about.

Maybe this is too much to ask, but how about video-taping the problem as it happens and posting it on U-tube.
 
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Old 06-01-09, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by tennisfan20
Thanks for the reply. They were going to find the leak last summer, but it was towards the end and the vacuum method they were going to use required not using the AC, but it was too hot to do that. They came by today to find the leak and decided that there was no problem inside, so they put in some sort of red dye into the freon to see where the problem is. They will be back next week to check it.
The "vacuum method" sure is extremely slow and ineffective. They should have pumped the refrigerant down (back into the condenser) and then pressurize the lines with nitrogen to 150psig. Never fails, and is quick
 
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Old 06-01-09, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by pflor
The "vacuum method" sure is extremely slow and ineffective. They should have pumped the refrigerant down (back into the condenser) and then pressurize the lines with nitrogen to 150psig. Never fails, and is quick
I'm not too knowledgeable on this but, today they did some sort of pressure check by disconnecting the unit to figure out that the problem was NOT INSIDE the house. Now, the dye is being used to confirm it.

Thanks for the help. I sent you a Private Message.
 
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Old 06-01-09, 05:41 PM
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Video here on youtube(clicking noise):
YouTube - MOV01342

Pictures here(white pipe goes from coils to drain cup):
Picasa Web Albums - tennisfan20 - Untitled Album
 
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Old 06-01-09, 08:36 PM
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The leak should have been fixed last year.Air and moisture could have gotten into the system and caused more problems. The noise sounds like air being sucked in through the trap.Is that a secondary trap? Try adding a small amount of water to the trap.
 
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Old 06-02-09, 03:52 AM
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Good thinking KW, a partially empty trap could be the source of the noise, with the water pocket being lifted by the pull of the fan and then dropping due to its own weight. Hopefully tennis would be able to figure out a way to add the extra water (if one of the plates on evap coil has screws and is removable)
 
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Old 06-02-09, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by pflor
The "vacuum method" sure is extremely slow and ineffective. They should have pumped the refrigerant down (back into the condenser) and then pressurize the lines with nitrogen to 150psig. Never fails, and is quick
If you pump down the condenser you will never be able to tell if its leaking. You have to remove the refrigerant and fill it with nitrogen. There can only be gas in the system, no liquid or you will never see a drop in pressure.

Also pressurizing the lines with nitro is a good idea but it won't tell you if its the lines leaking or the evaporator.

Dye is the better procedure IMO or the best way is isolating ALL the components and pressurizing with just nitro.
 
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Old 06-02-09, 05:45 AM
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The condensing unit here is only 3 years old, very unlikely it's the source of the leak...possible but quite unlikely.

And you don't pump down the condenser, you pump down INTO the condenser. This is a very well known procedure by which you bring the refrigerant down into the condenser, as it was when the condensing unit was right off the box. And you do that to test for posible leaks on the suction & liquid lines, and in the evaporator coil itself as the nitrogen (with the service valves fully front-seated) will flow through both lines and into the evaporator as well...this is standard procedure in new installs. Com'on, my man!

And if the leak is quite small, the vacuum method is not effective, it could take a loooong time before the needle in the gauges read anything. A defective o-ring in the manifold hoses could give you a false reading as well.

The dye is good, I give you that, but nitrogen is nice 'n quick...of course barring the condenser as the culprit.
 

Last edited by pflor; 06-02-09 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 06-02-09, 01:19 PM
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Yes it is standard practice on NEW units. I know the procedure well.

His unit is three years old and needs to be fully checked, not half checked. Either dye or nitogen isolation like I said of All components is the only way I would do it, assuming I couldn't find it with my electronic leak detector first.
 
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Old 06-02-09, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by theapprentice
Yes it is standard practice on NEW units. I know the procedure well.

His unit is three years old and needs to be fully checked, not half checked. Either dye or nitogen isolation like I said of All components is the only way I would do it, assuming I couldn't find it with my electronic leak detector first.
Theapprentice makes some good points. A new(er) condenser is not immune from leaks. I have seen many develop leaks from 1 to 3 years. Some are caused by poor brazing at the factory or copper tubes which rub against the cabinet (perhaps caused by rough handling). Other times, I have seen leaky condenser coils.

Also, field brazed joints are suspect in newer systems.

A good electronic leak detector should (with proper use) find most leaks. If one is lucky, an oil stain can be immediately found. In more difficult cases, the dye has never failed me.
 
 

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