Leak Detector Importance
Finally getting a shot at working as a HVAC Technician - doing a lot of training with more experienced techs. Would like some input on the importance of having a "leak detector". I have heard pro and con from those at my company. Do you have to use one or can you be as effective at finding a leak with the "soap solution?" Love to hear from the more experiencd techs please.
Visual inspection first, look for an oil spot. Then bubbles.
Pressurizing the system is a good way also if conditions are such that you can listen for a leak.
A leak detector can help you find the general area of a leak but I have had the most success with the other methods.
x2 experience will help too.
Originally Posted by kdean1
ive found most leaks with soap and nitro. i have a leak detector but i hate it.
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A leak detector is part of your tool kit to locate leaks. I've found them very useful for locating leaks in evaporator coils. Many leaks will leave an oil trace.. not all of them will. It's sometimes hard to find an oil trace or get bubbles off of a leak in the middle of a 3 or 4 row deep coil.. Most of the time I find the leak with the detector, a trace of refrigerant and nitrogen. Leaks can show up or hide as conditions change, most show up with under high pressure, vibration or temperature changes.
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I used soap bubbles and a flashlight for many years because the shop I worked for had a dye kit which I hated using. I finally bought my own and use it all the time. I still confirm every leak with soap.
I know a guy who still uses an open flame to detect leaks.
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I use a leak detector and love it. I have found many leaks that I could not find with soap alone. Many leaks will not show up unless you pressure up the system with nitrogen. I usually pressure up to around 300PSI on slow leakers to locate the leak and then use soap to pinpoint the leak.
Leak detectors are a necessary tool. I also use nitro and soap first then if I can't find the leak, I add some gas and break out the detector.
It is a must have tool, I personally will not buy anything but an H10 but thats just me. Some places you can't see or get to with soap bubbles.
Must be the difference in the equipment.
When I suspect a leak, I'm starting with an electronic leak detector. It isn't the tool of last resort, but the tool of first resort and, in many cases, the only way you're getting close to a leak in hundreds of linear feet of display cases and miles of underground, overhead, and in-wall piping.
If its a smaller system like a walk-in freezer or rooftop, I can usually find traces of oil right away, then use soap bubbles and find the leak pretty quickly. If I don't find oil or anything obvious right away, I use my leak detector.
Like others have said, soap bubbles don't work too good on a coil or somthing that isn't easy to get it.
Leak detector is quicker than using soap bubbles on every single fitting.
I can't imagine trying to find a leak without an electronic detector today. Like jpsmith.. said, it's the first thing I bring out when I suspect a leak. Every once in a while I'll see an oil spot that I'll throw some bubbles at but usually I just get the electronic & locate the general area first. The first 5 or so years in this business I did without an electronic detector but not for the last 20 or 25 years. Times have changed & so have tools. Using bubbles to find a leak is like trying to surf the web using DOS & no web browser.
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