Refrigerant detector

I was just wondering if anyone uses a refrigerant detector to check A/C lines? If so, which one do you use? I am looking at the TIF models.

What do you need one of these for?
Are you EPA certified to touch ozone depleting refrigerants?

Just look for oil. Where there is oil, there is a leak.
Save you some $$$.

Those things can be a pain! If you don’t know what your doing, you may get false positives.

It takes hours to find a leak when you know there is one there. You want to spend all that time to see if there might be one?

Get some dish soap or “SNOOP”, it’s cheaper.

Ok thats a good answer. What about the rest of you? I would like to get a broad spectrum of answers. Pros and Cons.

I use a UV light supposed to find freon leaks as of yet no joy

I would see little reason for a leak tester. We are not servicemen. Either the system works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, report and refer to a refrigeration expert and let him find the problem/leak. Why spend your time looking for a leak and help the repairman.

If, as noted above, you see the “signs” of a possible leak, report it for further investigation. If you get a false reading, and the customer calls a serviceman, who discovers no problem, you will have one ticked off customer, who spent $$$ on a serice call.

Report it as evidence of a “possible leak”, that puts the ball in their court for further action.

Best advice: stick to the basics of visual home inspections, wander to far from that can get you into a lot of trouble.

Ditto with David and Steven.

I see your point.

But, if the system works when tested does not mean it does not have a leak. What about the homeowner that is selling a home and has the A/C service man come out and fill the refrigerant because he knows he has a leak. I have heard of people doing this to try and get it by the HI. Then after your client buys the house and 3 months later has the A/C stop working. Your client calls you and wants to know why you missed the leak and asks you to pay for the repair.

I may naive in this matter so your opinios are important.

Although I don’t go out of the way to look for Freon leaks if I see a possible leak and can pinpoint the leak I feel it is my duty to revel the location.

[QUOTEBut, if the system works when tested does not mean it does not have a leak. ]


On the same token, because there is no leak today, does not mean there won’t be one tomorrow. Next question is, why stop at the lines? Most of the leak problems occur in other areas such as the compressor, A-coil all hidden within the unit. Pay close attention to the Schrader Valve areas for leaks, most of them are on the exterior side of the cabinet and easy to view. Also rounded over cover cap hex ends is a good indication of many past service calls. Are you planning on dis-assembling every furnace and A/C system you inspect? I hope not. Remember your schooling, the inspection is a snap shot in time, the time of inspection and not a warranty. (Except in KS starting 7/1/09) :wink:



With any system, appliance, etc. works on the day of inspection, that is your only concern. We are not detctives, we are inspectors.

Yes, there are sellers who are possibly aware of a leak and recharge the unit just before inspection, let them get caught in the decete.

Having years ago worked for a carrier A/C distributor, if a leak has been a ongoing problem, it would/should be evident to the repairman.

Many service co’s leave a sticker on heating/cooling systems they have serviced for call backs, so if the seller lies to the buyer, good possibility he will get caught.

If your buyer (as they should be) is at the inspection, and you test the system, they are aware the system works.

Most generally, the buyer will do a final walk through him self the day before closing, if the system works that day, you are home free.

Keep it simple, stick to the basics, if it works, it works, if it doesn’t report it.

It’s not your responsibility to look for or predict the future life or workings of any system. If it fails in 6 months, it fails. end of story.

I agree with that!!! If you see it, suspect it, report it. That’s as far as you should go.

Lots of good points. I am not going to disassemble anything, so leaks in other areas would go undetected. But, it is great to see all the different opinions you guys have. It really makes you think about how one will perform their own inspections. I never thought of looking for the repairman’s sticker. great idea.

See these threads provide invaluable information, no matter how stupid the question may see. I believe that their is no such thing as stupid question.


This is a great board, as you, and I have discovered. Don’t worry to much about a “stupid” question, everyone here, I have discovered, are even willing, with rolling eyes to answer!!! God knows, I have probably been guilty of stupid questions!!! Part of the learning process.

You will learn more here, from the experience (and mistakes) of others, than you will have learned in your schooling.

BTW, a repairmans sticker will usually show the date of the last service call, and sometmes the reason/repair of that service call.

Good Luck

PS: start out slow, do NOT get yourself into a reliance of gadgets, they are a tool not to be fully trusted, it’s your eyes, knowledge,that is the best tool!

You have already been given lots of good advice no need to spend good money on a Freon meter. I don’t use one If I suspect a leak I hit it with the soap and move on. If you like tools put your money in a good CO detector or Boro scope something that can help you.

What brand of borescope do you guys suggest?

Home Depot has a neat little Rigid SeeSnake Micro for $199: . I want one but since I don’t do WDI’s then I have no idea what I would use it for. :slight_smile:

Will you be liable, if it develops a leak two weeks after you do the inspection?

Will you be liable if the angry neighbor cuts the refrigerant line two weeks after you do the inspection?

Worth repeating!


Don’t understand your concern of AC systems, unless they told you horror stories in school.

  1. If a system was recharged, the charge would not last long when it is running, and if it is a line leak would be evident. Even not running, refrigerant would leak out of the system. Therefore, cooling would not be as expected.
  2. Any refrigeration company that would recharge a system with out looking and fixing the problem, should be out of business, as if it is just a simple line connection leak, not hard to fix, therefore, one must conclude that the problem is elsewhere in the system, probably compressor or coils.
  3. As noted in previous post, a leak can occur just about anywhere in a system.
  4. Handy home owner is unable to recharge the system, due to the fact that to obtain freon, you need a license. Unless you are close to the canadan boarder, can still get it up there.
  5. Again, you do visual inspections, if you see or suspect a current, or prior evidence of a leak, report it, let the buyer go back to the seller for an answer to the problem. If the seller (who did not list this on his desclosure report), would have the ultimate responsibility.
  6. Think you are worring about something that is a remote possibility, and there are many other things other than AC that I have discovered in inspections that the seller has “tried” to hide. Concentrate on those items, as those items can really come back to bite you!!!