I am thinking of offering acid tests to refrigerant systems and I am wondering if anybody does this?
Yes, I realize you have to have special training, EPA certification, and equipment, which I do. A friend of mine has been in a mess with a new split heat pump system and it made me think there is a market (or at least purpose) for this service.
The obvious typical countermeasures as well as the potential for irreparable damage.
I am planning on offering basically a total system evaluation. Acid test, meg motors, % VD across contacts, superheat/subcool, pumping efficiency, and a type of system balance testing that is simple to complete (my own method).
Why would you? I have been in HVAC/R for a very long time and it’s a by-product of a compressor burn out. Ask your customer if their compressor has ever been replaced and if yes, then ask if the contractor tested for acid if they say no then offer. Acid has a distinct odor as well.
Actually, many contaminants will cause acid to form in a system, not just compressor burn out.
The basis of my question involved a former employ of mine. Just before I hired him, he had a new split system heat pump installed in his home. He choose to use a older gentleman that runs a one man operation (I met him in a seminar once) and this was right during the transition to R410A. The guy knew a little, but not enough. He was like many so accustomed to R22 and did not use nitrogen.
In less than 9 months the system failed 6 times. A total of 3 reversing valves and one compressor had been replaced. The last time the replacement compressor had failed and I think the manufacturer was not going to warranty it. The guy was stalling about coming back out.
I ended up letting the guy go so I dont know for sure the outcome, but I am sure either way it was not the type of experience anyone would want to endure.
Thank you for this reply William! I had three reports to write and I had no time or patience for a reply to a compressor burnouts are the only source of acid (or even a primary source of acid).
For others; air, moisture, temperature, and improper installation (as William pointed out) can all cause problems with compressor oil contamination. The use of hydroscopic POE oils increases the chances of introducing water
to the refrigeration system. It is essential that a good drier developed for use with HFC refrigerants
and POE oils is used. Moisture indicators should also have a lower sensitivity level .
William, can you elaborate on the R410A refrigerant issues that you mentioned (and any other significant information concerning that refrigerant)? I have been out of the service engineering field for quite a long time now (back when all the new refrigerants started coming out) and I always find it interesting about idiosyncrasies involving issues found in the field but not published. My former job was to solve the unsolvable problems in the field in all facets of refrigeration and air-conditioning. Residential was much less demanding but still has some interesting scenarios.
Back to the OP, I probably spent more money at the HVAC supply warehouse on testing and cleanup supplies for contaminated oil then all the HVAC companies combined. I continue to monitor these conditions in my home inspection business when significantly old equipment is present or signs of poor workmanship in compressor changeups etc. are present.
I see more and more R410A units during my inspections these days. I agree with your statement about service technicians who continue to use R 22 mentality with this new refrigerant. I found myself falling into that category as well initially. Being able to simply lay hands on a piece of equipment and diagnose it, is a thing of the past!
I now use a refrigerant analyzer that can diagnose all the different refrigerants at any point in time and covers collecting data of wetbulb, dry bulb, refrigerant pressures, saturated temperature, sub cooling, super heat etc.
Need a little help to keep up in my later years!
(Beside the fact that a low-pressure refrigerant gauge manifold is out of range with R410A refrigerant!)