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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Kansas City MO
    Posts
    7

    Leak Detector Importance

    Hello all!

    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.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Athens, Ohio
    Posts
    1,834
    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.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Upstate SC
    Posts
    1,439
    Quote Originally Posted by kdean1 View Post
    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.

    ive found most leaks with soap and nitro. i have a leak detector but i hate it.

    Sent from my MID7012 using Tapatalk 2

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    881
    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.
    I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
    ― Benjamin Franklin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Chicagoland Area
    Posts
    4,638
    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.
    Officially, Down for the count

    YOU HAVE TO GET OFF YOUR ASS TO GET ON YOUR FEET

    I know enough to know, I don't know enough
    Liberalism-Ideas so good they mandate them

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Tahlequah OK
    Posts
    131
    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.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    381
    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.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    50
    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.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    25,718
    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    3,856
    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.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    3,241
    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.
    Gary
    -----------
    http://www.oceanhvac.com
    An engineer designs what he would never work on.
    A technician works on what he would never design.

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