Refrigerant Leak Detection

Refrigerant leak detection is a key step to maintaining the integrity of equipment. A refrigeration leak can lead to decreased efficiency, increased energy costs, and damage to equipment.
Leak detection can be done using chemical, UV, or electronic methods. A visual inspection can also identify potential areas of leaking coolant. However, you should click here at to make sure the inspection is properly done.
leak detection

Soap Bubble Method
With their delicate and mesmerizing allure, soap bubbles have captured the imagination of children and scientists alike for centuries. These ephemeral creations offer a wealth of testing and application opportunities across diverse fields, from exploring surface tension and material properties to visualizing fluid flow and aerodynamics to detecting surface defects and more.
A few different methods can be used to test refrigeration systems for leaks, and the soap bubble method is one of the most popular. Technicians spray a solution of water and soap onto components, and the escaping refrigerant causes bubbles that indicate a leak point. This approach can be ineffective for tiny leaks or windy conditions, however, and is best paired with another method like an electronic leak detection system.
Another popular method involves the injection of a dye into the system and circulated throughout the refrigeration line. The leaking refrigerant attracts the dye, which can be identified via a special UV light. This method works well with most types of refrigerant and can identify many of the same kinds of leaks as the soap bubble technique. However, it can be a messy and time-consuming process.
In addition to utilizing a specialty bubble solution, technicians can also use their eyes to locate a leak. This can be especially helpful in the case of a recently repaired system that has not been charged with any refrigerant, since oil stains on the piping or components may indicate where the leaks are located.
Alternatively, it is possible to create a vacuum box with a seal on the surface that is being inspected, and this can make the bubbles that are generated more prominent. This can be a useful tool when examining flat sheet metal plates or other components with minimal surface area. A good quality, highly viscous bubble solution is recommended for this type of test. In addition to offering superior bubble strength and durability, this product is formulated to be safe for use with most refrigerants and combustible gases.

Dye Method
The dye method involves injecting a fluorescent dye into the refrigeration system and circulating it throughout the system. If a leak occurs in the system, the dye will escape from the leak point and will be visible under ultraviolet light. The problem with this method is that the dye can be messy, and it can also affect the performance of the system over time. It is recommended that this method be used in conjunction with another form of leak detection, such as the soap bubble or electronic method.
The invention provides a leak-detectable refrigeration composition comprising an effective amount of a fluorescent, alkyl-substituted perylene dye combined with a refrigeration oil and a polyhalogenated hydrocarbon refrigerant. The dye is readily soluble in a wide variety of refrigeration oils, does not alter the properties of the oil into which it is dissolved, and will not stain acrylic finishes such as automotive paint or refrigerator cabinets, skin or clothing of system operators, or their equipment.
In one embodiment of the invention, a container includes the mixture of refrigeration oil and leak detection dye medium and is adapted to communicate with a hose or similar connection or adapter for supplying the dyed refrigerant and refrigeration oil to an air conditioning or other refrigeration system. The dye is injected into the air conditioning or refrigeration system and circulates with the refrigerant and system lubricating oil. When the system is exposed to ultraviolet light, any escaping dye is brilliantly fluorescent.
In a second embodiment of the invention, a powder or slurry of the dye is deposited in a prepackaged bag and inserted into a component of the air conditioning or refrigeration system before the initial charging of the system with refrigerant. The leak detection dye is combined with a quantity of the system lubricant, which must be sufficient to make any leaks in the air conditioning or refrigeration system visible. The quantity of the system lubricant used in this embodiment varies according to the specific type of refrigeration system in which the leak detection dye is installed, the strength of the fluorescent reaction required, and other factors.

Ultraviolet Lamp Method
Often found in laboratory equipment, UV lamps use high-intensity light to activate a special fluorescent dye that illuminates the area around a leak. This method cuts down on diagnostic time and eliminates the need for a soap bubble or dye solution, making it an ideal choice for tracing leaks in overhead systems such as in HVAC industries. It is also useful for locating small leaks that are difficult to see with other methods. Typically, the system is filled with the dye and operated for 20 minutes. Then, a technician wears yellow UV protection goggles and shines a UV lamp on the system components. The leaking refrigerant will glow brightly under the UV illumination, allowing technicians to quickly locate it and avoid the loss of significant amounts of refrigerant.
The chemistry behind the UV process is similar to that of visible light, with each molecule of the ionized water absorbing electromagnetic energy from the UV light, causing it to be in an excited state. This allows it to interact with the chemical bonds in the molecules of microorganisms, inactivating them and preventing them from reproducing. UV processing can be used to disinfect a variety of items, including reprocessing and sterilizing medical and surgical instruments. It can also be used to disinfect food and beverage products, extending their shelf life, preserving nutritional value, and eliminating spoilage microflora.
This technique must be performed in a clean, dry environment to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety. It is usually performed in a biosafety cabinet, with the sash closed during operation and access to the room restricted. A warning label should be posted indicating that UV radiation is present, and the sash should only be opened when the system is not operating. The UV intensity, adjusted for coating and end of life, must be calculated and applied correctly to maximize effectiveness.

Electronic Leak Detector
The electronic leak detector method is the most scientific, efficient, and accurate way to locate a refrigeration leak. It uses a handheld probe that can be positioned against possible leak locations to send a signal to the user’s device that there is refrigerant in proximity. It is especially useful for locating halogen-based chemicals, as well as non-flammable and flammable gases such as acetone, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and benzene.
This method requires specialized training to use properly. An experienced professional can quickly and accurately pinpoint a leak’s location using an electronic leak detector. This allows your plumber to make the appropriate repair without wasting time searching the entire area.
An electronic leak detection tool works by analyzing the frequency and intensity of vibrations emitted by a refrigerant in proximity to a leak. These vibrations are then relayed to the user’s device via a transducer, which is connected to a display screen. If the refrigerant in proximity to vibration is leaking, the screen will show an indicator that says “leak detected”.
There are several different electronic leak detectors available on the market. Some are more suitable for specific types of refrigerants. For example, some are designed to detect HC refrigerants (Hydrocarbons). Other types of electronic leak detectors include corona discharge detectors, infrared sensors, and heated electrolyte leak detection systems.
Choosing the correct type of electronic leak detector will depend on the technician’s needs and application. Some technicians swear by certain techniques, but the best refrigeration leak detection methods are those that are efficient and accurate.
If you have a refrigeration leak, contact a licensed professional as soon as possible. Even a small leak can cause serious damage over time. We’ll help you find and repair the leak before it becomes a major problem.
The main goal of a professional refrigeration leak detection service is to pinpoint the exact location of the leak so it can be repaired as quickly as possible before further damage occurs. The best option is to have your professional choose a combination of methods to ensure that the leak is found as close to its source as possible.