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  1. #1
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    Best practices for systems slightly low on R410a

    I would like a little advice on what is best practices for coming upon a system that is moderately low (30degree evaporator) on 410a. My practices thus far for systems missing up to 20% of their charge is to soap Schraders/service valves, txv, inspect condenser coil & evaporator for signs of oil, and if nothing is apparent to let the customer know what a full leak test will cost & let them know that I can top off charge just one time. I try and prepare customer for the eventuality of having a full leak check performed & that topping off the charge is just a temporary solution.

    I am a 3rd year apprentice in Oregon state program and also have a 2yr degree from Walla Walla community college. Every day I learn something new & I want to do the right thing always. Appreciate the shared wisdom

  2. #2
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    Why can you only top off one time?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Why can you only top off one time?
    Because his conscience says he's wasting there money the second time. Even though we know that's not up to him to decided.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTP99 View Post
    Because his conscience says he's wasting there money the second time. Even though we know that's not up to him to decided.
    That's true, on the second short of gas they sell a new unit!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnergyOasis View Post
    I would like a little advice on what is best practices for coming upon a system that is moderately low (30degree evaporator) on 410a. My practices thus far for systems missing up to 20% of their charge is to soap Schraders/service valves, txv, inspect condenser coil & evaporator for signs of oil, and if nothing is apparent to let the customer know what a full leak test will cost & let them know that I can top off charge just one time. I try and prepare customer for the eventuality of having a full leak check performed & that topping off the charge is just a temporary solution.

    I am a 3rd year apprentice in Oregon state program and also have a 2yr degree from Walla Walla community college. Every day I learn something new & I want to do the right thing always. Appreciate the shared wisdom

    Whenever you have to add refrigerant it is proper to inform the homeowner of their options of course including a leak check and repair. As far as the onetime "topoff" policy with a residential unit that is your or your company policy and not directed by the EPA or anyone else. What to do is their decision and that is usually directly related to cost. You should advise their best actions of course. I can see not wanting to continue to topoff but that usually takes care of itself.

    Is this policy a sales tool? When you present this onetime "topoff" policy do you tell them that this is your policy and only your policy only or do you mention the EPA?

    What do you do if it is 25% low? How do you determine before charging with refrigerant what percentage it is?
    Signature removed Violated rule #15

  6. #6
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    Where I work, we just give the customer a proposal for a leak check and repair. If the leak is easily repaired, then it gets done. Anything else gets re-quoted.

    What my real recommendation to you is start researching electronic leak detectors. There's several threads on this forum to help you out. I have a co-worker who has one that cost around a hundred bucks, and he has real bad luck finding leaks. Mine costs over five hundred bucks, and I am very good with it.


    Quote Originally Posted by EnergyOasis View Post
    I would like a little advice on what is best practices for coming upon a system that is moderately low (30degree evaporator) on 410a. My practices thus far for systems missing up to 20% of their charge is to soap Schraders/service valves, txv, inspect condenser coil & evaporator for signs of oil, and if nothing is apparent to let the customer know what a full leak test will cost & let them know that I can top off charge just one time. I try and prepare customer for the eventuality of having a full leak check performed & that topping off the charge is just a temporary solution.

    I am a 3rd year apprentice in Oregon state program and also have a 2yr degree from Walla Walla community college. Every day I learn something new & I want to do the right thing always. Appreciate the shared wisdom
    I do a triple evac with nitro to remove non condensables.

  7. #7
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Why can you only top off one time?
    I let the customer know that the top off is a temporary solution to an underlying problem, and that if it continues to leak that a leak-check & repair would save money in the long term. I won’t give a quote a new unit until I can quote a leak repair.

  8. #8
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    Thread Starter
    Is there a point at which 410a leaking as a vapor can separate (fractionate) into a blend that doesn’t have the properties of 410a anymore? If I recall 410a is a 3 component refrigerant blend. I’ve never seen this, but knowing it is my decision for only topping off systems that have lost up to 20% of their charge.

  9. #9
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    There was a lot of fear about that in the beginning, but it hasn't panned out.


    Quote Originally Posted by EnergyOasis View Post
    Is there a point at which 410a leaking as a vapor can separate (fractionate) into a blend that doesn’t have the properties of 410a anymore? If I recall 410a is a 3 component refrigerant blend. I’ve never seen this, but knowing it is my decision for only topping off systems that have lost up to 20% of their charge.
    I do a triple evac with nitro to remove non condensables.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnergyOasis View Post
    I would like a little advice on what is best practices for coming upon a system that is moderately low (30degree evaporator) on 410a. My practices thus far for systems missing up to 20% of their charge is to soap Schraders/service valves, txv, inspect condenser coil & evaporator for signs of oil, and if nothing is apparent to let the customer know what a full leak test will cost & let them know that I can top off charge just one time.
    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Why can you only top off one time?
    Quote Originally Posted by VTP99 View Post
    Because his conscience says he's wasting there money the second time. Even though we know that's not up to him to decided.
    What you do depends a lot on how much you charge to do it...

    For instance...when I have found an old Trane 22 system with a "moderate" indoor coil leak, I told the HO the price to replace the coil will be worth several years of annual top-offs if the leak rate doesn't increase. 'Course that procedure will likely change in the near future relative to 22 prices.

    With 410A equipment, another consideration is age of the unit and it's warranty status. If the indoor coil is suspect and under warranty, the sensible thing is replace it before the warranty expires.

    This is my preference on best practice...

    Whenever you have to add refrigerant it is proper to inform the homeowner of their options of course including a leak check and repair.
    I'm continually amazed at the number of service companies that top off or fill up a flat system and never mention the system has a leak some where...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnergyOasis View Post
    Is there a point at which 410a leaking as a vapor can separate (fractionate) into a blend that doesn’t have the properties of 410a anymore? If I recall 410a is a 3 component refrigerant blend. I’ve never seen this, but knowing it is my decision for only topping off systems that have lost up to 20% of their charge.
    2 components and 0.2 glide
    No reason for concern on toping off.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  12. #12
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    What I do (and this is just me in my market) is if a 410a unit is low just a little and I have not serviced the unit before then I do a quick leak check with my fieldpiece srl8 and make a note of it.
    Then if it is low again within a year I do a deeper leak search if I didn't find it the first time and advise the owner on repairs eaven if it is only 8 oz or so because a 410a system is almost always fairly new and I feel that it is more worthwhile to repair and prevent it from running low and doing more damage like overheating the compressor.
    If it is an r22 unit I do a quick leak check and make a note to advise the owner that the price of r22 will likely keep going up and now is a good time to cut their losses and replace it but if they just want a repair than they can request a quote.
    My market is poorly managed rentals and usually they just want to keep topping it up until it gets really bad.

    Sent from mars using Tapatalk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnergyOasis View Post
    Is there a point at which 410a leaking as a vapor can separate (fractionate)
    I never fell for that BS

    I seriously doubt the gasses separate going out a crack …. I dunno … I guess I don't picture one gas holding the door open for the other gas watching it escape

  14. Likes lions_lair liked this post.
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