Refrigerant Leak Detection

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Old 03-15-01, 05:41 AM
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Do any HVAC/R techs have any experience with ultraviolet leak detection. I have a couple of commercial jobs with small refrigerant leaks that don't want to be found.

GregH
 
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Old 03-15-01, 03:54 PM
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Most ultraviolet

Applications I have seen have been in commercial refrigeration.Please describe system and refrigerant.2 ton,10 ton,15 ton and manufacturer,Will try to help.Also need to know how many times gas has to be added and charge system holds.PDF
 
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Old 03-15-01, 04:38 PM
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Ultraviolet doesn't work any better than the others. Always end up finding small leaks with nitrogen and bubbles. Big Blue(brand name) will bubble up at a lose of less than 1/4 oz. per year at 300psig. Are you confident it's leaking freon? As PDF says, we need more info.
 
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Old 03-15-01, 07:57 PM
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Right now the question is hypothetical.
I mainly work on commercial systems with refrigerant quantities of 10 to 100 lbs. Most commonly types r-22, 404a, mp39, hp80 and 12&502 when available. Although soap bubbles are the most reliable, the amount of piping in commercial systems make it too time consuming, plus there are a lot of areas that are difficult to access. Electronic is ok, but can be erratic.
I am finding the biggest strain on customer relations is the cost of refrigerants which have gone up in price as much as 5 times over the last several years.
Just looking for one more tool in my box to be able to do a better job.
None of the techs that I know have even thought of using UV and believe it or not, some manufacturers don't always give good advice.
Just looking for firsthand information from the guys in the trenches.

Gregh
 
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Old 03-16-01, 01:39 AM
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I agree with fjrachel. UV is truck clutter. I have never needed mine, waste of dough. The best test is cutting apart major runs, sealing and pressure testing. I have found the biggest strain on customer relations is me having to tell them it could take between one and one hundred hours to nail down a leak. You may as well say hand me a blank check. You also have to prepare yourself to stay at it for the good of everyone. I have carved up walls and ceilings, run a saw through romex, all kinds of things looking for pinholes. Stick with Nitrogen, Big Blue and torch work.
 
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Old 03-16-01, 03:44 AM
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GregH

This is PDF.Glad to hear from a commercial refrigeration TECH.Although I am versed in HVAC 70% of the work I do is in comm.refrig...One day I might be working on a under counter reach in freezer,the next day I might be working on refrigeration for a hockey rink.Don't you just love all the different types of refrigerants?Have worked some old supermarkets and it comes down to shutting cases down,isolating high and low sides and hunting and pecking.PDF
 
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Old 03-18-01, 11:48 AM
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Dont mean to pop anybodys bubble but.............

I tried the ultraviolet die/black light system on a unit that I had aready spent many hours with BIG BLUE and a sniffer trying to find a small leak and it worked great for me. In this case, it found the leak in a small run of piping that I couldn't get the bubbles or the sniffer near.

Don't knock it till you tried it............
 
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Old 03-18-01, 05:25 PM
dna
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Thumbs up UV light

I used the dye/UV light on one job and it worked beautifully. It was a residential heat pump. I injected
the dye, let the system run for (1) day and returned at
night and tried the blacklight. Where the leak was found
would have been very difficult to find with bubbletest(middle of condensor coil). I recommend it highly, but
definitely return after dark to use the blacklight, or find
a nice tarp as a canopy for darkness. Good luck!
 
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Old 03-18-01, 09:35 PM
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Gimme a break

Found a leak in a pipe where you could'nt get big blue? Dont knock it till you try it? Please! Gentlemen, the plumbing section is over there.

When you learn how to braze you will isolate and use nitrogen. Come back at night? I have more respect for my customers than to inconvenience them like that. You'll get there someday.
 
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Old 03-18-01, 10:15 PM
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Inconvenienced??

Such hostility in your reply poepleschoice, problems at home? By the way, I know how to braze and isolate, I have
been doing it for 14 years. In this instance, UV detection
was the best option. Obviously, you have never used this
technology, and therefore, cannot comment on its usefulness.
The customer was not inconvenienced, she was relieved that
the leak was finally found. I was there on the first service call for 1/2 hour making sure the leak wasn't something obvious and to inject the dye. I went there the
following evening and it took me 10 minutes to find the leak. A total of 40 to 45 minutes and the refrigerant leak
was diagnosed and detected. If I would have brazed and isolated, I would of doubled my jobsite time. Cutting refrigerant piping, brazing while purging nitrogen through the piping(I hope you do that for your customers' sake) and then trying to find the leak. And then don't forget about
filter driers also. Oh and by the way poepleschoice, your comment about getting there someday, I'm not there and your
not there. This wonderful HVAC trade of ours is a constant
learning experience, and if you think you know everything, your customers are going to pay a heavy price for your ignorance.
 
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Old 03-19-01, 07:32 AM
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Your responses are all great!
I have lost touch with most of my HVAC/R buddies since my move several years ago to a rural area and appreciate the diversity in your replies.
All your experiences are a benefit, as most people have the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Most of the people that I know in the trade have a negative opinion of UV, but these same people, although licensed tradesmen, do not reglarly use or have an understanding of the micron guage.....the favorite tool in my box. Can their opinions be trusted?
One thing I am curious about is the cost of a kit in other areas. My suppliers all want the same, about $900.00 cdn
dollars for just the lamp plus the dye. Havn't looked into an internet purchase yet but wonder what a person would pay elsewhwre.
Also I wonder if a couple of 18 inch fluorescent tubes in a homemade reflective fixture might work as a way of trying out the technology.
Thanks again.

GregH
 
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Old 03-19-01, 10:50 AM
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GregH

To be honest everytime I try to beat the system I usually end up paying more in the end.

As for you dna, I have used UV. And your right there is trouble at home; Its.....its....ITS NOT FOOTBALL SEASON!! Exchanging daggers is how fellow tradesman have a little fun, right?

There is no one best meathod of leak detection. In you example, what if your leak was in a line set where mama hung a picture, or in my experience, a contractor hung an awning? You would not have found it. What if it was in the evap. An extensive teardown, and you still may not have found it. So your UV is effective for condenser leaks prmarily, I guess you got lucky this time.
 
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Old 03-19-01, 11:41 AM
dna
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Smile Leak detection

Poepleschoice, Poepleschoice, Poepleschoice, I didn't say
UV was the best. I think both methods of leak detection
have their place. Of course you cannot have success with
UV when you have hidden or buried linesets. I will go on the record as saying I think UV is a great way to find refrigerant leaks in condensing coils AND evaporator coils.
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. Thats what
forums like this are all about. Amen, brother!
 
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Old 03-19-01, 07:01 PM
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Did we forget what this forum was intended for ?

Yes Greg, you can use any blacklight set up, although its not going to be as bright but if you can get it really dark, like in a basement dark, it should work. And as for getting it into the system, I've added it to the oil in the compressor and let it run for about 6-8 hrs.

[Edited by will-at-home on 03-19-01 at 10:16]
 
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