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AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
A/C - HEAT PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES
AIR CONDITIONER COMPONENT PARTS
AIR CONDITIONER TYPES, ENERGY SOURCES
AIR FILTER EFFICIENCY
AIR FILTERS, FIBERGLASS PARTICLES
AIR FLOW MEASUREMENT CFM
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BLOWER FAN CONTINUOUS OPERATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - Air Conditioning "How To" Books
CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
CLEANING & Legionella BACTERIA
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
DEFINITION of Heating & Cooling Terms
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS
DEW POINT TABLE - CONDENSATION POINT GUIDE
DIAGNOSE & FIX AIR CONDITIONER / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DUCTS - Asbestos
DUCT INSULATION, Asbestos Paper
DUCT INSULATION for SOUNDPROOFING
DUCT SYSTEM NOISES
DUCTS, Asbestos Transite Pipe
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
FAN LIMIT SWITCH
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) in buildings
HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HEATING SMALL LOADS
INSPECTION CHECKLIST - OUTDOOR UNIT
INSPECTION LIMITATIONS, A/C SYSTEMS
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LOST COOLING CAPACITY
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
MOLD in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
OPERATING COST, AIR CONDITIONER
OPERATING DEFECTS, AIR CONDITIONING
REPAIR GUIDE, AIR CONDITIONERS / HEAT PUMPS
REPAIR & DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for A/C
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
THERMOSTATIC EXPANSION VALVES
WATER COOLED AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL AIR CONDITIONERS
WINDOW / WALL A/C SUPPORTS
Air conditioner & heat pump refrigerant test gauges: this article describes the connections, use, and reading of a refrigerant gas pressure test gauge set. We describe the procedure for using test gauges when adding or replacing refrigerant: charging an air conditioner, heat pump, refrigerator with refrigerant gas. We explain how a refrigeration gauge set should be connected to HVAC equipment to avoid contamination damage and we review the refrigeration system evacuation and cleaning procedure. Also see REFRIGERANT PRESSURE READINGS. Readers whose air conditioners or heat pumps are not working properly should see LOST COOLING CAPACITY, also see REFRIGERANT LEAK REPAIR at our discussion of REFRIGERANTS & PIPING under AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Details on Proper Use of the Refrigeration Charging / Testing Gauge Set to Keep Moisture & Dirt out of an Air Conditioner, Heat Pump, Refrigerator, Freezer, etc.
Refrigeration Servicing Gauge Set Installation & Use
Reading the Gauges on a Refrigeration Gauge Set
We use (and illustrate) a traditional Imperial System Analyzer gauge set that provides three charging lines (refrigerant canister, high side, low side). This is a diaphragm type gauge but other methods of measuring and charging systems are available.
Attaching the Refrigeration Gauge Set to the Air Conditioner, Heat Pump, or other refrigeration equipment
Using Temporary Access Valves for HVAC or Refrigeration Testing & Diagnosis
Tapaline and other piercing valves are available in various sizes to allow the HVAC technician to tap into the refrigerant lines on a system in order to perform diagnosis where there are not already service valves installed. Smaller bullet-type valves are installed using an allen wrench.
Use these valves as a temporary service tool, preferably attached on the process tube. [See Types of air conditioner or heat pump compressors & compressor designs if you don't know what a process tube is.]
Watch out: do not leave these temporary test valves on the refrigerant piping - you're asking for a future leak. These valves are suitable to aid diagnosis of a refrigeration system by avoiding disturbing the troubled state of the system (as you'd do if you had to cut lines and solder in service valves just to do a test).
After using a temporary tap-in valve on the process tube at a compressor unit, you should solder off the line puncture and add a permanent service valve fitting - the type that uses a schrader valve and cap - also referred to as an access valve or line valve.
Refrigerant Test Gauge Hose Hookup Details
In our sketch below (A) is the low side pressure gauge, (B) the high side pressure gauge, (C) is the service line at the gauge center, connected to a refrigerant gas source or perhaps to an evacuator pump. (D) is the location of the high side gauge control valve and (E) is the functioning location of the low side control valve.
Watch out: Valves (D) and (E) are used to isolate their sides from the service port. Open only one at a time, then close it before opening the other.
Watch out: as we warn at many places in this article series, do not send liquid refrigerant into the low side of a refrigeration system. Liquid refrigerant will enter the bottom of the compressor motor and can damage the compressor, or even if the compressor tolerates and passes the refrigerant through its pumping system, the refrigerant can carry away the lubricating oil from the compressor, and/or cause an air trap in the system.
We use the same procedure for attaching the gauges to the high side of the system.
Restating a bit:
For the gauge set shown above, turn the valves all the way out to attach the gauges, since service ports are stopped OFF.
Turn the gauge control valve all the way in (closed) to stop off the line to the evaporator/condenser (depending on which valve you are using).
Attach the gauge hose test line loosely to the test port;
Feed a small amount of refrigerant through the gauge test line and the charging line to purge any air. [NOTE that newer test equipment may provide other solutions for this step to avoid releasing any refrigerant to the atmosphere.]
Then tighten the connection of the test hose to the equipment service port.
To Remove the Service Test Gauges on Refrigeration Equipment
Back-seat (all the way out) the equipment service valve to close off the service port, then remove the gauge and cap both the service port and the test gauge hose ends.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Refrigeration & Air Conditioning or Heat Pump Refrigerant Gas Pressure Test Gauge Use
Question: what is a good R14 refrigeration pressure ? What should the refrigerant pressure be in my unit?
model cxa6 keeprite unit r14 refrigeration what psi pressure it should be good. - Litt 7/26/2011
what are the low and high readings for a 7.5 ton, 220 three phase compressor with two cooling coils and serves two inside units, mod BTA090C300H0, SER W01 195521 - firstname.lastname@example.org 8/2/11
I add that for R14, its Latent heat of vaporization (1.013 bar at boiling point) is 135.7 kJ/kg
You need to consul the manufacturer's technical literature for the refrigerant gas in use and the compressor model in use, and then you'll need to use a table of gases that provides temperature and pressure data in one place, as ambient temperature affects the answer. In sum there is no single precise right number. There are typical operating ranges of refrigerant pressures, as you can see a REFRIGERANT PRESSURE READINGS. Also take a look at our answer to Mr. Litt, just above.
Question: what causes excessive refrigerant pressure?
what cause to much high pressure - Anonymouse
Anon: among the reasons for excessively high pressure on the HIGH Side or output side of the compressor/condenser section of an air conditioner or heat pump are a plugged or debris blocked condensing coil, plugged refrigerant line, plugged dryer/filter on the line, or a stuck refrigerant metering device such as a capillary tube or thermostatic expansion valve. There may be other causes of high refrigerant pressure that other readers can add.
Question: High pressure readings on the low side of my heat pump
I am getting very high pressure readings on the low side of my heat pump. The discharge and return line to the air handler are cool and equal in temp.(showing no refrigerant movement), But my suction line and discharge line leading in to and out of my compressor are very hot. Have open the lines and checked the orifices and they are clear as is the lines to the air handler. Is it possible that the condensing alone can be clogged? I did have a compressor burn out last year. - D. Nix 8/7/11
High pressure on the low side sounds to me as if a metering device is stuck wide open; perhaps when your compressor burned up last year it left some debris in the refrigerant lines that has found its way to the TEV and has jammed it. Ask your HVAC tech to check the system again, check the TEV adjustment, and also consider installing a (new) filter/drier on both ends of the refrigerant piping system.
Question: can a refrigerant gas leak be fixed or does the whole compressor need replacement?
I need to know whether a leak form one of the compressor tubes is fixable or not. My technician said that the whole compressor would need to be replaced. - Ehab 8/176/11
Ehab refrigerant leaks can be repaired by various patch methods. But if the leak is discovered to be a symptom of more extensive corrosion, such as at a cooling coil, it's a much bigger repair than just a patch. I'm not sure why, if the compressor was working normally, you'd need to replace all the equipment- perhaps the tech is referring to the issue that s/he cannot any longer recharge with R12 or R22 - used in older compressors, but there are alternative refrigerants that can often work with some adjustments.
Question: Comment on hose color coding; How do I know if the HVAC Tech Put In Enough Refrigerant?
Blue line goes to bigger line in compressor and red on little line
Hello, For a typical home split air conditioner, how to make sure that the technician has filled in enough gas in the out door compressor unit? - Sanjay 7/21/2012
Sanjay, without evacuating the air conditioner completely and putting in a precisely measured charge using gauges and metering equipment, you cannot know yourself exactly how much refrigerant is in the system. But there are indications of the refrigerant charge being too much or too little that can show up without sophisticated instruments. For example:
- if you hear a bubbling sound in the liquid line the charge may be low
- if you see bubbles in the sight glass (usually only found on commercial refrigeration equipment and on some residential air conditioner or heat pump systems) the charge may be low
- if the cooling coil is frosting over one of the causes is low refrigerant charge
- if the compressor makes a horrible clanking sound and then stops dead, one of the possible causes is overcharging or another problem (such as a failed TEV or other refrigerant metering control) that has caused liquid slugging of the compressor on the suction side.
Beyond these observations, you need to be able to trust your HVAC technician. While mistakes are of course possible, no service tech any credible motive for placing an improper refrigerant charge into the system. Doing so just makes more work and trouble for everyone.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Since the failure of an air conditioner to turn on, loss of air conditioner cooling capacity, reduced air conditioning output temperatures, loss of cool air supply, or even loss of air flow entirely can be due to a variety of problems with one or more components of an air conditioner or air conditioning system, after reviewing the lost air conditioner cooling diagnosis procedures described in this article, be sure to also review the diagnostic procedures at each of the individual air conditioning diagnosis and repair major topics listed just below. To return to our air conditioning and refrigeration home page go to AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS.
If your air conditioning or heat pump system has lost its cooling capacity or won't start select one or more of the diagnostic articles listed below.