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Old 08-01-2011, 01:37 PM   #1
Bernie is on a distinguished road
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: NW suburb of Chicago
Posts: 417

1998 SL1
Default Understanding Auto Air Conditioning-Part 2 by Bernie

By Bernie 8/1/11

A common issue with automotive air conditioning systems is refrigerant loss due to leakage. The source of a leak is sometimes difficult to spot, so Saturn added a dye to the refrigerant. The dye fluoresces under ultra violet light and makes it easier to identify problem areas. Another perhaps more traditional means of spotting leaks is to look for oil stains throughout the system, especially around fittings. When a system is off and empty, inert gases like nitrogen or carbon dioxide may be introduced at a test pressure up to 150 psig for R-134a systems. Air is not an inert gas and cannot be used. Under pressure it could explode on contact with refrigerant oil. Also, it is absolutely necessary to install a reliable pressure regulator on all test gas cylinders due to their extremely high internal pressures. An effective and safe way to identify the source of a leak using the pressure method, is to listen for escaping gas or apply a mixture of dishwashing liquid and water to potential leak sites and watch for bubbles.

The use and handling of refrigerants is regulated by the Environmental Protection agency. The failure to comply with EPA regulations is treated very seriously, and punishable by heavy fines and possible jail time. A significant bounty is also offered by the EPA to anyone who turns in violators.

It is illegal to vent CFC, HCFC and HFC refrigerants. R-12 is a CFC and contributes to ozone layer depletion and global warming. R-134a, an HFC, is not damaging to the ozone layer, but also contributes to global warming and cannot be vented to the atmosphere. When any type of repair requires opening an air conditioning system, the recommended approach for the do-it-yourselfer is to have a professional shop recover the refrigerant. Many shops will do this either free of charge or a small fee.
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