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Frozen AC condenser - where's the leak?

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Forum topic by chrisstef posted 07-21-2013 06:56 PM 891 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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chrisstef

10865 posts in 1665 days


07-21-2013 06:56 PM

Ive known for the last 2 years or so that ive got a refrigerant leak in my central AC system but have been leery of the cost that it will take to find said leak. Ive had to have refrigerant added the last 2 summers and its a total popsicle out there right now. Any HVAC guys out there got any tricks or tips to finding a leak within that system that wont run me a mortgage payment? I appreciate the help gang.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty


28 replies so far

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489tad

2337 posts in 1670 days


#1 posted 07-21-2013 07:05 PM

Cha-Ching!$
Our second floor has the same problem. Tech searched for leaks with his tester and could not find any. He figures the coil needs to be replaced. Unit is twelve years. If they can recover the refrigerant my ball park estimate was 1200.00 U.S. I will probably have it done for next year. Good luck.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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chrisstef

10865 posts in 1665 days


#2 posted 07-21-2013 07:10 PM

Yea i hear ya Dan. The units only 6 years old here and id hate to have to start replacing things. On the bright aide we made it through 6 days of upper 90 degree temps and 70% humidity with it working properly. Looks like we’ll be runnin “the ole chevy” whole house fan tonight to stay cool unless frosty thaws out.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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489tad

2337 posts in 1670 days


#3 posted 07-21-2013 07:10 PM

You wanted tips. Tech had a Do-Hickey meter thingy that he ran from the compressor along the line to the coil. He said if the leak was in the line that would be the best situation. He checked for nails or screws that might have hit the line. He said the coil developes pin holes that are hard to detect.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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489tad

2337 posts in 1670 days


#4 posted 07-21-2013 07:13 PM

99 degrees outside and I was not checking the attic. I know it is hot. Heat wave cracked here today. Nice outside.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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chrisstef

10865 posts in 1665 days


#5 posted 07-21-2013 07:21 PM

Yea cracked here too with temps in the low 80’s luckily. Hopefully they can get a tech out in a couple of days to inject some AC juice.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View whitebeast88's profile

whitebeast88

3526 posts in 849 days


#6 posted 07-21-2013 07:33 PM

i feel your pain,i’d been patching mine for last 3 years hoping for one more.she gave up he ghost this year and cost me some major$$$$ so any projects and tool purchases are now on hold.

hope the best of fortune for you.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

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HorizontalMike

6939 posts in 1572 days


#7 posted 07-21-2013 07:46 PM

Sorry, but it cost me $5,000 for a new 1.5-ton Heat Pump just last Summer. So now I have one “old” system (downstairs) with the old and expensive freon and one “new” system (upstairs) with the new refrigerant.

I feel your pain. And I am only cooling a “small” house.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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chrisstef

10865 posts in 1665 days


#8 posted 07-21-2013 07:52 PM

Whoa HM. I hope thats not in store for me. 5k would make a nice dent. I think/hope its just a pinhole leak somewhere in the line. Ive had refrigerant put in the last 2 summers. It hadnt been much, a pound or so, but somethin aint workin like its supposed to. Like my grandfather said “you own a house, you deserve it”.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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waho6o9

4946 posts in 1235 days


#9 posted 07-21-2013 07:58 PM

http://www.air-conditioner-selection.com/refrigerant-leak-detection-simple.html

Maybe soapy water in a spray bottle and find that pin hole leak?

Good luck Stef.

View DeputyDawg's profile

DeputyDawg

187 posts in 2624 days


#10 posted 07-21-2013 08:11 PM

Here is a trick you might try. Turn your thermostat to Heat. Run it for about 5 minutes. Then turn it on Cool. What has happened is the compressor has frozen up and this will thaw it out so when you turn it back on to cool it should work

-- DeputyDawg

View woodcox's profile

woodcox

603 posts in 670 days


#11 posted 07-21-2013 08:32 PM

sup stef. my first job out of high school was with my big bro doing hvac. ive been wrenching on cars and such for the last 15 yrs or so. ive never been to class or wanted to delve into that system of the cars. Ive seen a/c make super techs sweat when its not cooperating. just not my cup of joe. but I do know the basics. in auto a UV dye can be injected into said systems and with a UV light and yellow specs leaks can be found. a quick search of res hvac system leak dye came up positive. may depend on type of refridge and sytem. mayb poke the tech about it. finding leaks is all bout size and accessibility to the line sets. most leaks at unions and connections. small leaks in the coil or condenser may prove difficult find. their “sniffers” often don’t find the little leaks. hope this helps. after dye is injected keep an eye out for Freon huffing kids in the hood with glowing faces;). hope this helps.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

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chrisstef

10865 posts in 1665 days


#12 posted 07-21-2013 08:47 PM

Wahoo – weve gone theough the soapy water test and it came up inconclusive.

Dep – solid tip there. If she dont thaw out on her own ill employ that method this evening for sure. Its most definately a block of ice outside at the condeser.

Woodcox – yea from what i remember a dye test is next on the docket. Im fearing the leak is inside the unit itself and tearing that apart is gonna cost some clams but ill keep my eyes open from those huffers lol. The line from the condeser runs right through the shop in the basement and is very accessible. I wish it would show its face.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View RPhillips's profile

RPhillips

465 posts in 495 days


#13 posted 07-21-2013 11:51 PM

Stef, I did HVAC work for a couple years after high school and like 489’s tech said, more than likely it’s a coil leak and they can be very hard to find.

Good luck, hopefully it’s a easy and cheap fix.

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

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Buckethead

1921 posts in 527 days


#14 posted 07-22-2013 12:00 AM

Stef, are you saying that your copper tubes are freezing over at the compressor? You may have a leak, but my own experience was that the coils in my air handler needed to be cleaned. I do have a buddy who is knowledgeable in these matters who diagnosed me over the phone.

If your coils are dirty (air handler… The inside portion of the system where you change your filters) it could ultimately freeze your compressor up. Big bux.

Just crack that air handler open. Just a few screws will do it. Look at the coils. If sufficient airflow isn’t able to occur due to dust, etc… This can cause other problems. A single can of coil cleanser from your local HVAC distributor will do the trick.

Are there any vents in your house with a slight dust trail at the ceiling? (Another tale-tell sign)

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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chrisstef

10865 posts in 1665 days


#15 posted 07-22-2013 12:11 AM

BH – yea copper coils froze outside at the condenser. The coils outside are pretty clean but i will take a peek at the air handler in the basement. I cant say theres any dust trails by the vents but i will inspect a lil closer. At this point ive had it shut down for about 5 hours or so and everything is thawed out. I dont think flipping it back on and asking it to drop 10 degrees in the house is the best idea.

For now were rockin the whole house fan. 77 so not bad at all. If i can get the house down to 72 or so ill fire it back up in the mornin and just try to maintain.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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