HVAC refrigerant indicator?

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I have a heat-pump with what I'm guessing is a slow refrigerant leak. Twice a year I have the service folks come out and we flip a coin on whether to find and fix the leak or just refill it. This time I might have to just get it fixed. But I have a question that I'm going to ask the service folks and the readers here. Would it be possible to have some kind of refrigerant level indicator installed in the line so I can visually check it and know when it's out of spec? I don't mind paying for the service but it's always after it gets uncomfortable in the house (summer) or I unknowingly pay for backup electric strip heating (winter). I dial gauge would be fine but I'm geeky enough to deal with an electric measurement device if that's what I'd need to interface with.
** Due to SPAM I no longer receive email responses to ** newsgroup postings, so don't bother.
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You bet there are leak detectors/monitors. Level indicators retrofitted into your unit would expensive. We HAD glass ports with pretty red lines for level indicators for one of our 2000 ton chillers. It took less than a year for them to start leaking which caused us on the very next annual PM to remove every one of them.
You will probably pay more for the monitor than replacing the unit.
Installing a low pressure switch for the unit is possible. But not something that I would even consider doing. Everything that is installed in the system is a chance for another leak. I know of no dial gauges that are used all of the time. I doubt that they are rated for that application.
Keep it simple, get the unit fixed or replaced
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This is Turtle.
I would put me a sight glass on the liquid line to see vapor and not solid liquid feeding the flow rater or expanion valve. This is a very good visiual way to look at the charge without any equipment. Now do have them not sweat the glass in but use flare fittings to install it. When you use a tourch to heat up the fitting to sweat the glass in there. It will loosen the glass and may start it to leaking.
All sight glasses leak but rare you see one leak enough to make a difference.
TURTLE
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This is Turtle.
Alan , Every Sight glass I ever seen in my life leaked by showing up with a H-10-G . The thought is how much it is leaking as to say it is a problem. I don't have a problem with the 1/64 th of a ounce of freon a year leak as being bad if the system is leaking 5 to 10 pounds a year already. And No Alan, This guy is not going to fix it when he can just gas it up and go.
TURTLE
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On Sat, 23 Apr 2005 10:50:02 -0500, "TURTLE"

Sight glass on a heat pump??????
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I have a sight glass on my heat pump and have installed them on other heat pumps as well. I have never had trouble with them leaking. Get the ones with long tubes attached and solder them in. I avoid flares because mechanical joints leak more than solder joints. That is why all heat pumps and AC units now come with solder connections instead of aeroquip or flare connections. At one time sight glasses came standard on Lennox. When you see bubbles in a sight glass they are already low. Most units now go 8 to 13 degrees subcooling, at 1 degree subcooling you will still have solid liquid in the sight glass but still be undercharged. However with solid liquid you will still cool OK most of the time, unless you have really long lines.
Stretch
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Strange.
I could of sworn there was someone who posts in another group who insists that any questions about HVAC be posted to alt.home.repair. And then this person comes to alt.home.repair to tell people not to post here, either.
It's confusing.
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"Do a little google on "beer can cold" and hvac."
If you are still using that outdated test to charge units, then both you and your customers are in a world of trouble. We have much better technology than that now.
Stretch
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He was refering, I believe, to the hack information that would show up from Turtle when you did.
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Everyone, PJM is nothing but trash who lives by the put down and hasn`t given a word of helpfull advise in his pathetic sick little depressing life.
Turtle is OK here . You Pjmass are not go blow your self again
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Actually Mark, on this one he is dead on.
I have a H10, and Sporlan and the others would not be able to market a sight glass that leaked. Terrys been called on more BS than most, and while you might not like the MANNER that Paul put it out, the facts are simple..
The big T hasnt a clue.
If a sight glass leaked on EVERY install, then you would ALWAYS see guys like us on the rooftops of your local malls, and other places that use large commercial equipment taking them off...all your coolers, and walk in freezers and a few ice machines would all be dying all the time..
Dont happen..

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weasel you're a hack by anybody's standards. You are a unlicensed hack. Oakdale requires licenses. Every other company around and in Oakdale is licensed. Criminal record keep you from a license or your incompetence?

We know hacks like you think you just slap it in and go. Your mentality is very common. That's why customers have bad installs, high energy bills and premature failures. You strip all the meat off the bone you fight over and the customer gets left holding the bag.

Excuses for being a hack? Tell some more lies. The list just gets longer doesn't it weasel.

Oh? Your Baffle and Bullshit game? Hack attack?
snipped rant

Exposing the hack shit that you post? Yes. Excuse it as anything you like. Incompetence or thievery at the least.

You are a liar and it's been proven and you have had your nose rubbed in it. Repeatedly. I generally stay out of alt.home.repair but you brought me into it.
You haven't weaseled out of your lies Charles T Lee of Oakdale, LA.
People here might want to check up on weasel before you take his "professional" advice.
--


Training costs money. Ask the last person you worked for. -me

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On Sat, 23 Apr 2005 14:32:54 GMT, Abe

Do a little google on "beer can cold" and hvac.
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This is Turtle.
This person is not saying to freon charge this away but just a way to '''''' know when ''''' to call for service of it being low of freon. He has to call two times a year to fill it back up by a service company.
TURTLE
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Abe writes:

Buy some service gages and learn how to use them.
Install 1/4" NPT tees in the lines for permanent gages.
Just fixing the leak might be cheaper.
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Umm....he better buy alot more than just a manifold if hes gonna check charge.... the manifold by itself wont tell you a thing.....nada...nothing..other than what the pressures are, and if you dont have ALOT more information, the pressures mean NOTHING.
Only hacks use just a manifold to test for charge...since then dont have a clue as to the correct manner.

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CB You correct people with respect and know your trade and alot more, that is good and you get deserved respect, for we all learn here and are here to enjoy.
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What a mess this turned into.
My HVAC service folks don't seem inclined to install anything in the line.
The "beer can cold" test is interesting. Does that trick work when heating as well (heat pump)?
I'm wondering if there are other things I could measure with reasonable results? For example, during the cooling season I could measure the difference in temperature between the return air and the cool air being blown out the other side. I say difference because I assume I can't expect a specific temperature out of the unit all the time. I wonder if measuring the temperature of the two copper refrigerant lines would tell me something?
One last thing. I'm wondering if my expectations are too high? Maybe having the system topped off twice a year is normal? My parents had a Lennox air-conditioning system (in upstate NY) that they ran a little bit each summer. The unit ran without needing a charge for over 20 years. The only time they charged it (once) they had to because the outside unit was being moved to a new location as part of a remodel. This is why having to see my service person twice a year seems foreign to me.
Mark.
** Due to SPAM I no longer receive email responses to ** newsgroup postings, so don't bother.
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Abe,
Unfortunately for you, you posted a question about HVAC in the middle of an all out usenet HVAC war.
I know fuck all about HVAC.
I can tell you this:
Forget about the beer can cold test. It's a little joke the supposed pro's like to throw around at those they deem to be less knowledgable. The experts around these parts don't feel so special if they can't put someone else down.
However, knowing fuck all about HVAC, I can tell you that having to have your system "topped off" twice a year is unacceptable, and a needless waste of money. Find a good company that can find your leak and fix it.
Look at it this way: Would you be satisfied with your fridge if you had to pay someone twice a year to come recharge it?
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Abe wrote:

Of course they are. How do you expect your hvac service company to make a living if they can't screw you over twice a year? If they fix the leak they will be lucky if you even call them once a year for a pm service. Get someone out there to fix the damn leak. Beware this may be expensive some leaks will require major component replacement. But remember if the unit has a leak it starts loosing efficiency as soon as the tech leaves. Pay now or pay later.
My parents had a

Dave
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