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DIY - Finding a Refrigerant leak

1 Jan, 2011 | Category: Troubleshooting


Finding a refrigerant leak can be very difficult. Once you determined the system has a refrigerant leak, there are many ways to help you locate the leak.


Pressure can be used to determine the location of the leak. simply use nitrogen and pressurize the refrigeration system. Do not exceed the rating of the evaporator coil. A normal pressure test is around 300 lbs of pressure for an R22 system. For 410a, do not exceed 450 psi.Refrigerant Leak

Once the system is pressurized, reduce noise in the area and listen for the leak. Sometime a "hiss" sound can be heard coming from the leaking area.  Use a solution of water and liquid soap to spray on the areas that could be a potential leak like solder joints, braze joints, and areas that piping rubs against objects and itself that might cause a rub through.  Once you spray the soap solution in an area that is leaking, the area will begin to bubble up.

Pressure and Refrigerant

Pressurize the refrigeration system using nitrogen and a little bit of refrigerant as a trace gas. Use an Electronic Leak Detector  to sniff out the leak. Run the leak detector across all joints, condenser coil and evaporator coil. Once a leak has been found, use the soap and water mixture to locate the exact area that needs to be repaired


Leak detector dye can be used to locate a leak. Charge the unit with the correct amount of dye and run the system. Using the correct flashlight for the dye you installed, run the light over areas of the unit. The area that is leaking will glow green.

This type of test is good to do at night, or you can use a large black tarp to cover the ac unit so no light enters the area you are inspecting with the flashlight.