AC Freon Refrigernat leak sealer

gilarJune 26, 2009

Hello, hope someone can answer this. A year ago, we had Freon added to our 10 year old Rudd airconditioner by a local AC repair tech. Today, I noticed that the airconditioner wasn't cooling well (thermostat still registers 80 after several hours of running the AC). It is very similar symptoms as last year. I spoke to the tech and he said that he will come Monday to check and most probably there is a freon leak somewhere and he mentioned that there is a leak sealant that he can add for about $270.00. Has anyone used it and if so what are your results?

thanks,

Gila

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maryland_irisman

....it is for your own good never to have any additives such as that added to your system. All of that "monkey snot" causes more problems than it solves. There are only 3 solid choices.....properly repair the leak, replace the coil, replace the entire unit. The Unit is 10 years old so it has neared or is nearing it's expected life cycle.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 8:03PM
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refrigman1

Depending where the leak is the tech should be able to repair it. Internal leak sealer is for a very small "ghost leak" that cannot be found or is not accessable.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 10:46PM
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mr_havac

maryland irisman, I always wondered what that sealer stuff was made out of! thanx for that info. LOL

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:47PM
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maryland_irisman

We have some other names for it but wouldn't mention them here!!!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 1:00AM
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gilar

thanks everyone for your posts. The tech came by today and there is definitely a freon leak of about 2 lbs. He checked around and didn't find any obvious pooling. I questioned him about the sealer; actually he didn't recommend it today since he couldn't guarantee it. His only experience with the sealer is fixing the AC in his truck and he hasn't had any problem with leakage in three years since he put the sealer. He conceded that the AC in the car works differently because of higher temps. He also said that it will cost about $400 to do a pressure test throughout the system to isolate the leak and he still may not be able to find it. So finally I settled on adding 2 lbs of Freon for now.

He did recommend that we run the AC once a month in the winter months to have the oils in the system coat the coils and it might help to reduce the freon leakage.

thanks again,

Gila

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 9:27PM
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jakethewonderdog

Gila,

You don't have an AC tech there, you have someone with minimal training and a set of tools - and probably not good tools. Run-- do not walk-- away from this clown. Seriously.

Let me ask you, how did he know it was 2 lbs of Freon short?

Look, you have to have a good leak detector to find a freon leak. I don't know what the state of the art is now, but when I was doing it, there was really only one unit - the GE H10G - that would do the job. If he didn't have one, then it's not surprising he couldn't find it. A leak won't announce it's self by visible "pooling".

You need to find the leak, repair it, clean the system, and charge it properly (using superheat method). You can also replace the unit if you suspect that it has been poorly maintained.

However, you shouldn't let this guy anywhere near the unit again.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 10:49PM
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maryland_irisman

Jake is right, don't let this guy near your unit again. The guy might have "some" knowledge but certainly not enough to properly service your unit. I'll bet he was referring to 2PSIG ....2 pounds(weight) is a lot of refrigerant. 2PSIG isn't really that much.

He should be able to find that leak with no problem. If he says he may not find it, another reason to get someone else. And don't run that A/C in the winter time. First off, the compressor most likely won't start. Secondly, if it did, it would probably damage the compressor.

The practice of running a vehicle A/C in the winter has different reasons that don't apply to your unit. The rubber lines and seals in a vehicle unit need the lubrication but you don't have that in your central A/C unit.

It's guys like that, that give the reputable Techs a bad name.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:36PM
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florida288

Jake, you mentioned repairing a leak. Do you mean a leak in the coils. This is what happened with my ac--last fri it wasn't cooling, repair guy said 2 leaks in garage unit coils and 1 in the heat pump coils, said can't repair them, must replace for $3000, said leaks were slow, so I had him add freon, 14 lbs, but he charged for only 9 + about $165 to come out and defrost = $524. Next day all leaked out again. So I'm getting new puron system. Can those leaks be repaired?

Kathy

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 9:27PM
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jakethewonderdog

Kathy,

I saw your other post. I don't know what to say about your situation.

A leak can happen anywhere in the system, but they are far more likely to happen in parts exposed to physical damage. The parts outside are more likely to be damaged by something striking the coil, etc. Other places where there are likely to be leaks are at service valves, connections and piercing valves (which should only every be temporary).
I've also seen leaks at compressor terminals.

The evaporator coil is protected inside - and isn't very likely to form a leak unless it was introduced at installation (running a screw into it, for example).
If a system is leaking, the inside coil itself isn't the first place I look.

If your system went through a full charge that quickly, it has a major leak, not a slow leak. Cleaning up a system that has completely lost its charge is not a small task. The other things I would consider are the age and the general condition of the unit. I wouldn't invest the money into a 15 year old system, for example.

If a unit is leaking, you have to fix the leak. It virtually never works to charge the unit and expect that it will go for a while. The problem is that few guys have the right tool and the time to find a leak - particularly in the peak of cooling season. It is a lack of professionalism and unfortunately there are a lot of guys who really don't know what they are doing.

Just FYI: the fact that your new system uses Puron doesn't make it fundamentally different from any other system. Puron is a still a refrigerant that works the same way as Freon (R22) but doesn't attack the ozone layer.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 10:13PM
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jakethewonderdog

Kathy,

I realized I talked a lot and didn't answer your question.

The direct answer to your question is that any leak can be repaired. In practice, a leak on copper pipe or coil can reasonably be repaired while a leak on an aluminum coil isn't easily field repairable.

Leaks in a coil can be particularly difficult to isolate and get access to in order to repair. If they aren't at the end of the coil or along the edge, it often makes more sense to replace the coil.

I guess I would question if they actually identified leaks in the coils. That would be a lot of work for the evaporator coil - which usually isn't very accessible.

As I said earlier, on an older unit or one that had been poorly maintained (the system had been opened and not repaired well) I would potentially recommend replacement rather than putting a lot of money in tracking down the leak, repair, cleanup and charging the unit properly.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 10:33PM
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troys

Jake, Im not sure what kind of units that you work on but 9 out of 10 times I have a leak it is in the evap coi. It is protected but they develop leaks. The more common practice is not to repair because once you start moving the coil around to fix it, it will usually leak some where else. If it is right up front I will fix it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 10:55PM
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johnax

Troys, please share where on a typical evap coil you find leaks. It's a wet environment sometimes and has significant quick temperature excursions when it starts up, but I'd expect a responsible firm to design for both those 'features'.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 2:29AM
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jake2007

Troys, what causes the leaks that you find? We are talking about copper pipe with brazed joints. It usually takes physical damage (possibly vibration against another part)to put a hole in copper. Valve stems, rubber seals and field connections are where I see most of the leaks - along with holes in condenser coils from impacts and holes in aluminum condenser coils from repeated dog urine. I see more vibration related holes in copper in the condensing unit because of the compressor and fan than I do in the evaporator.

What type of leak detector do you have? I can't imagine 90% of leaks being in the evaporator coil - that's really unheard of in my experience. If I had an employee repeatedly telling me he's finding leaks in the evaporator coil, I'd suspect he was either not diagnosing the problem correctly or intentionally claiming it was the coil to limit the amount of time spent tracking down a leak.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 8:39AM
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maryland_irisman

Leaks in A/C evaps are pretty rare. One year, I did have a run on RHEEM units where the elbow joints were coming apart. These were around 5 years old. The only place I see frequent evap coil problems is in commercial and resturant and deli equipment where uncovered chopped and sliced onions are stored.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 8:39PM
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troys

Jake, I have a TIF detector. It must be in Texas where the evap coils fail. I have never heard that it is rare to find a leak in the evap coil. I have found leaks at the cap tubes, where the lines elbow back into the coil.

"If I had an employee repeatedly telling me he's finding leaks in the evaporator coil, I'd suspect he was either not diagnosing the problem correctly or intentionally claiming it was the coil to limit the amount of time spent tracking down a leak."
I think a tech that "finds a leak" on the shrader valve is probally taking the easy or quick way out. I always find the area of the leak but might not be able to pinpoint it. It would be easier to say the valve stem way leaking and see how long it will last. If I find the coil leaking I recharge it and inform the customer and let them decide. I dont see how you can think a tech that finds leaks is questinable. I would prefur not to go in the attics and say it was outside. I have found driers, valve stems ect leaking and repaired but I have found way more leaks in the coils. You all must not use allstyle coils

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 10:30PM
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daddo

I too find probably 80% of the leaks in evaporators. Yes I'm in south Texas. The leaks mostly appear at the wettest spot on the coil- near the bottom turns nearest the drain outlet where the rust is the worst. I only use the H10 detector and soap spray to spot afterwords. I rarely find leaks in condensors except at cap tubes rubbing or a rotted out accumulator. And yes, it does happen where the last tech didn't tighten down a cap and it leaked out there- though I must admit to screwing up and not testing the Schrader before attaching my hoses- thus leaving that in question. We have a problem lately (last 5-8 years?) in corroded evaps here for some reason. I replaced a 6 year old Trane coil because it was rotted out. The home owner promises they don't use heavy cleaners in the home and the coil had never been cleaned by a careless tech using a corrosive cleaner.
I would never allow anyone to install a sealer of any type in my refrigerant system. The sealer he speaks of solidifies on contact with air- what if there is air in the system? Hate to think about it.
If an evaporator has multiple leaks- replace it, if it has a leak on a soldered joint, most likely it's worth repairing. The thinnest copper in the system is in the evaporator and any moisture or acid will eats it's way thru here first and trying to repair it is futile.
Proper installation and practices can eliminate many of these problems, and that's why it is best to hire a professional and not a (excuse the expression) "Bubba" with the $19.95 service call.
(*Daddo- HVAC business since 1974 and HVAC company owner- just for reference.)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 10:00PM
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maryland_irisman

Daddo....Might the air in S.Texas be a bit briny from the Gulf? Although evaporator leaks do happen in this area, it's not common in residential units unless, as you say, proper installation and practices weren't implemented. That's not to say they don't happen but our percentages are a negative image of yours. About 80% of the time, a leak is found elsewhere. When we do find a leak in the evaporator, it's usually in the places you mention. As one gets closer to the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic Ocean, the condenser units are destroyed (eaten up) before the evaporator has a chance to leak. If there's one thing I hate, is call backs for me or one of my technicians. If the system has lost a substantial amount of refrigerant, there's a leak somewhere and we find it. Most of our leaks can be found, as mentioned, at rusted or leaking receiver/driers/access valves and as Jake mentions, field connections. We do find them in the condenser coil itself or refrigerant lines where a lawnmower throws an object or other abuse.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2009 at 10:37PM
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daddo

maryland_irisman
I guess the geographic areas have their own consequences. I'm actually 150 miles inland so the gulf only effects me when I want to go fishing. LOL.
I helped a man on the coast once and after dealing with rust corroded fan blades and systems, I decided to stay away from that area. One condensors coil was a pile of debris around the unit- and it was still under warranty. :0 But not warranteed.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 1:10AM
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maryland_irisman

daddo

I've never fished in the gulf....how is it? The bay and ocean fishing is pretty good here.

As for trying to remove a fan blade...forget it!!! I had been putting anti seize solution on them during new installs. However, it was really a waste since by the time the fan motor needed replacing, so did everything else. Further inland, it's not so bad.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 12:07AM
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