Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Zero is NOT Nothing!

Many times people have remarked that even though they recovered a system to 0 psig or lower, when they opened the system, there still appeared to be some refrigerant. Often the presence of some refrigerant was most noticeable when they started brazing on a system that supposedly has nothing in it, and noxious green flames come out of the joint. This is because zero is not nothing. And no, that is not my “casual” grammar coming out. Don’t assume that because you have recovered a system down to 0 psig, or even into a vacuum, there is no refrigerant remaining. In fact, there can be quite bit of refrigerant in the compressor oil even under a vacuum. Since the refrigerant oil and the refrigerant are miscible, refrigerant dissolved in the refrigerant oil leaves the oil very slowly. The attached video shows refrigerant boiling out of oil removed from a compressor that was removed from a system which was recovered down to 28” of vacuum. The oil continued to boil for hours after being removed.

 This helps explain why system pressure can rise in a system which is left under a vacuum. This also explains why you should make sure the compressor oil sump heater(crankcase heater) is on before recovering refrigerant. If you are planning on recovering refrigerant from a system that has an operable compressor, run the system until the compressor is warm before beginning recovery. The compressor can draw out the refrigerant from the oil faster than your recovery machine. A heat gun applied to the bottom of the compressor can also help a great deal. While you are heating places that trap refrigerant, go ahead and heat the bottom of accumulators, receivers, and filter driers as well. A little time spent warming these areas trap oil and refrigerant will save time during recovery and evacuation. Remember, zero is not nothing!

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