After determining the general area of a leak with the use of an electronic detector, soap bubbles are an excellent method of identifying the exact location of the leak. The only drawback of this method is that it is ineffective under certain conditions. For example, it may not be the best method for small leaks or in windy conditions. The best way is to combine the soap bubble method with another method (probably an electrical leak detection method).
Now, to the most important question, what is the best detection technique? Some technicians rely on some of the older techniques, but electronic leak detection methods are best suited. They are efficient, fast, accurate and safe. In a system that uses carbon dioxide as a coolant, detection can be easily performed by using a soap solution added with bromothymol blue. The solution will turn yellow when this gas is detected.
Hydrogenated, for example: In essence, soapy water or a leak detection spray is applied to see if there are leaks at certain points. The heated diode technology used in electronic refrigerant detectors will detect chlorine or fluorine ions and activate an audible alarm to identify a leak. Ammonia can be detected by using phenolphthalein paper, where the moistened paper will turn pink (small amount) or scarlet (larger amount) when in contact with this gas. This type of detector is much less likely to give false alarms and works especially well with R134a.
With all that said and done, the best leak detection method should be based on your individual needs and applications. This refrigerant leak detection is the most favorable device used today because of its accuracy and ease of use. Effective refrigerant leak detection is vital to ensuring safety and achieving compliance, as well as maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing operating costs. Now, the most suitable refrigerant leak detection methods are based on your application and your individual needs.
While some technicians may express great confidence in using older methods, you should realize that electronic leak detection methods are the most efficient; they detect a wide range of refrigerants faster and, in addition, are safer and more efficient. As refrigerant leaks out of an HVAC-R unit, it emits an ultrasonic noise that cannot be heard by the human ear. If there is a leak, the refrigerant will absorb infrared light and the device will measure the degree of change in coolant concentration. The detector normally operated with butane and functioned in a similar way to a Bunsen burner.
There are several refrigerant leak detection methods that residential technicians can use to find a refrigerant leak, and you should employ the best, along with the right instrumentation, to accurately find and correct refrigerant leaks. If the coolant is corrosive, such as ammonia, be sure to handle it with care using the right tool to check and manage the leak. Most electronic leak detectors need regular calibration, and heated and corona discharge types of diodes require sensor changes at regular intervals. On the other hand, some leaks may be small and may require more advanced and specialized tools to detect them.