Identifying and fixing leaks in HVAC systems is vital to maintaining safety, establishing compliance, and increasing energy efficiency. In the past, service technicians would listen for hissing sounds or detect chemical smells to locate a leak. Today, we use advanced tools that allow us to pinpoint breaches quickly. This allows us to fix them more efficiently, minimizing the amount of refrigerant lost and the environmental impact.
The type of detector you choose will depend on your needs and the types of refrigerants you’re working with. Consider sensitivity, speed of response, and portability. Also, make sure the sensor can be easily calibrated to maintain accuracy.
Corona Discharge — Air is pulled through an energized electric field around an electrode. Refrigerant gases break down the current and trigger an alarm based on how much gas is present. However, other gases in the area may also cause an alarm to go off (false positives). This method is dependable and works with all refrigerants but requires regular calibration against a known leak.
Ultrasonic — This detection technology uses sound amplification to identify the sounds of escaping gasses like refrigerants. The high-frequency sound pitch created by the escaping gases is detected and triggered an alarm. It is sensitive to all refrigerants and works well in confined spaces, but it’s not accurate on small leaks.
The quickest way to find a refrigerant leak is by using an electronic or infrared detector. When moving the detector, be sure to move it slowly — about three inches per second. This slow movement helps ensure you don’t create a breeze that affects the sensor and gives you false readings. Also, be sure to test your sensor by moving it to clean air and back over the suspected leak location to see if the detector signals again. Refrigerant leak detectors for HVAC