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AC LEAK QUESTION
October 2, 2009
1:11 pm
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Steve Pooler
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November 12, 2008
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offshore27ns said:

Hi Steve,

Thank you very much for taking so much time to help me figure this out….I wish you were here in Nova Scotia to jump on board and figure it out with me. I am going to print this thread off and keep it for the local AC tech next spring.

My worry on the remote unit is that there is a leak in the lines between the condeser (engine room) and the evaporator/air handler (all the way in the forward part of the bridge). How would I ever deal with this without removing the bridge? Just an fyi, the boat is a 40' Ocean SS.

Thanks,

Scott


Scott~

Rest your mind...I almost never see a leak in the copper line set run itself...Unless some kind of junction was made...which there rarely is unless the line run is longer that 50 feet (That's how long the copper coil comes) Or at a Tee that splits to go to 2 air handlers (which I don't believe is your case either)

Leaks are most always IN the Air handler, or at connections to that air handler in the copper tubing flare joints at either end.

I don't believe I have been on a 40 SS but if you can give me an idea of what the air handler looks like, or maybe a model # I may be able to help out with some pointers on where to look for a leak...Fan motor type Squirrel cage or Prop type fan...Is it in an aluminum box

Does your tech use an electronic leak detector ?...To me this is paramount, and each brand & model has a learning curve...They respond differently, and it's important that a tech gets familiar with his own to avoid false readings...Then keeps the maintenance up on that tool...

I own 4 myself...Some work better in different situations...

I will add this...I have found leaks that were obvious to me in 15 mins...But other techs missed...I'm not saying I'm the best, but just a few weeks ago another tech (friend) here asked me to take a look at one of his customers boats (68' Lazzara) that had the same type issues since new, and the boat owner was to say the least getting frustrated...Like I said...I found the leak in about 15 mins...Sometimes it just takes another set of eyes, or different approach...

The leak was at the suction line flare as I mentioned before...Found it before I connected any gauges....The suction flare is just below where you connect gauges, so my friend was thinking that it was just his hose on his gauges leaking (they do that)

Turned out it was a bad flare that was not made properly in the first place so it had to be cut out and a new one made...Not a big deal unless you don't find it...

Well...A couple of weeks later I got a call from the captain that the system was not cooling...Again...

I understood his frustration & reservation so I came right away, even though I was on another boat...Turned out the system was still full of freon but he didn't have water flow to that unit...We took care of the problem together and he felt bad...I said "Don't"...I know this has been an on-going issue since the boat was new so you are entitled to be...Apprehensive...

Turns out it was never a problem with the equipment...But the installation of that equipment.

The only reason I tell this story is...These type things happen...Your guy may be very good...I've also missed a few in my time too for one reason or another...

Yes I think I gained a customer...But that was not my intention...It was first to help my friend in the business...And everyone involved can get frustrated...In the end the customer got fixed, and I'm sure you will too...

If your guy wants to talk to me...I'm here to help...Nova Scotia is a long way   Wink

Steve~

October 2, 2009
12:22 pm
offshore27ns
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Guests

Hi Steve,

Thank you very much for taking so much time to help me figure this out....I wish you were here in Nova Scotia to jump on board and figure it out with me. I am going to print this thread off and keep it for the local AC tech next spring.

My worry on the remote unit is that there is a leak in the lines between the condeser (engine room) and the evaporator/air handler (all the way in the forward part of the bridge). How would I ever deal with this without removing the bridge? Just an fyi, the boat is a 40' Ocean SS.

Thanks,

Scott

October 2, 2009
11:10 am
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Steve Pooler
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Forum Posts: 1127
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November 12, 2008
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One other thing Scott~

In reading your post over at THT…The below quote tends to bring up questions…

“Early last summer, I replaced the condenser and the seawater pump for the remote unit and it worked fine for a few weeks then it seems to have lost its charge. Had re-charged late in the season and this spring it is not working again. It obviously has a leak in the system some where.”

Low side leaks will leak less when the system is running (due to the lower pressure on that side while running) in the cool mode…Then when the system sits idle, the pressures are equal on both sides…Thus more pressure on what would normally be the low side when running, and it leaks out faster.

If this is something you notice after sitting…That's where I would start my search…At the evaporator or any low side part of the system when off….also The suction line 1/2″ flare on that FX 16 needs to be so tight you think you are going to break it (Two wrenches are needed to keep from bending or breaking the service valve out of the condensing unit's base plate)

If it seems to leak more while running…Then the leak is likely on the High Side…Due to the higher pressure when running…

There are many tricks of the trade to locate leaks, some while running, some while off, some running in cool mode, and others while running in the heat mode…Heat may make a joint expand enough to show up better, and switching the unit from heat to cool can heat up different parts of the system…

I myself have a process that I do systematically…I first start with the system off and no gauges or caps removed, and go thru each step in order…It's very seldom that a leak cannot be found…It's just how far a person is willing to go to find & repair that leak, and sometimes due to condition of equipment it's best to bite the bullet & replace it…

But still…The cause of the leak needs to be identified and addressed, or else the new piece will have the same problem in as little as a year.

Steve~

October 2, 2009
9:45 am
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Steve Pooler
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Member Since:
November 12, 2008
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Hi Scott~

Noticed you had lost or changed your password and thought I remembered your user name…I was just reading your leak thread over at THT when this one came in…

To answer your question…NO I don't recommend any of them…But have tried a few with mixed results…Ruined one system…

And many are meant for automotive systems that have rubber o-rings, compressor shaft seals, and hoses…Marine systems have none of those.

You should not have to recharge every year…When the A/C guys are looking…Have they found & fixed leaks ?

What I'm curious about is if the leaks are in different spots every time…Or they just never found them in the first place.

Leaks in the SX 10 are not common…But the FX 16 is a different story being a split system…How old are the systems ?

The FX unit can have leaks at flare joints from the original install, but the SX unit should not since it is a closed unit and has no flare joints…Only solder joints.

One of the most overlooked sources of a leak are the service ports where you connect gauges for testing & charging the system…If the service caps are left loose, cracked, or left off of that port…It WILL leak…That's what the caps are for…To stop seepage.

One of the other things that causes leaks is galvanic corrosion at the solder joints…This is evident by all the places that copper is connected together with a solder joint turns black…The leaking joints should also be oily (refrigerant oil travels with the freon) where leaking.

If you have the telltale black spots…You likely have galvanic corrosion attacking those joints…If one is leaking…Generally others are not far behind, and though a service guy may solder one up & recharge…Another that is close by may start leaking just from the heat applied to the one he is attempting to stop.

The units must be bonded to the ships bonding system…If they are already…That connection must be checked.

Copper is one of the least noble metals in the boat…It is the joined with a dis-similar metal (solder) and this is the first place a problem will show.

In short…The leaks need to be located & pinpointed…A compressor that runs low on refrigerant also overheats, and will not last long if run much that way…Not to mention the loss of efficiency of a system that is low.

Steve~

October 2, 2009
9:10 am
offshore27ns
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Guests

I seem to have a slow leak in both of my units that nobody can seem to detect.

Both units are Cruisair

-ONE IS A SELF CONTAINED SX10

-THE OTHER IS A REMOTE UNIT AND IS FX16

When they are recharged, I get about 4 months out of them which is just about enough time to cover our season but I dont want to have to recharge every year.

There are products on the market to stop AC leaks. Would you recomend any of the following

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Thanks,

Scott