The Importance of Refrigerant Leak Detection

Commercial and industrial refrigeration and HVAC systems that break down unexpectedly can be a serious emergency. As refrigerant leaks can cause an air conditioning or refrigeration unit to malfunction, according to the Energy Department, having a refrigerant leak detection program in place has become critical.

To understand the importance of timely refrigerant leak detection and prevention, let’s go through some key industry facts.

Refrigerant leaks lead to extra costs.

Some common problems resulting from refrigerant leaks include, without being limited to:

  • air conditioning and refrigeration systems that need to be recharged more frequently;
  • units that run less efficiently and use significantly more energy compared to optimally charged systems;
  • additional labor required to locate and fix leaks.

Considering all these, a refrigerant leak can increase the overall operating costs of any facility.

An under-charge of refrigerant can cause unexpected compressor breakdowns.

When there is an improper amount of refrigerant, the compressor will need to cycle more rapidly in order to transport heat away from temperature-controlled areas fast enough for the ambient temperature to reach the desired value.  

This will severely stress the compressor, leading to overheating, seal failure, damaged hoses and fittings, and a potential breakdown that might require the replacement of the compressor. Fixing the leak before replacing the defective compressor can help prevent the replacement compressor from failing due to the same underlying issue.

Refrigerant leaks can lead to downtime.

Hotels, restaurants, bakeries, catering facilities, cold storage facilities, supermarkets, medical facilities and many other commercial and industrial facilities rely heavily on air conditioning and refrigeration systems to run their daily operations. A refrigerant leak followed by an unexpected breakdown can cause unplanned facility downtime, negatively impacting your revenue and reputation.  

Refrigerant leaks can have a significant environmental impact.

As a leading supplier of remanufactured compressors, which are arguably the greenest approach to renewing air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, Compressors Unlimited cannot stress enough the importance of early leak detection. That’s because many of the refrigerants used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems make a major contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Furthermore, an under-charged unit is less energy efficient, meaning that it needs more energy to run. Compared to a system that operates in optimal condition, therefore, an under-charged unit will have a bigger impact on both the environment and your energy bills.

Considering all these points, the problems resulting from refrigerant leaks can be significant. However, adherence to best practice in maintenance, service, leak testing and repairs can reduce refrigerant losses and the problems associated.  

Even though most refrigerant leaks are beyond the control of compressor manufacturers, a well-designed and efficient compressor like the air-cooled reciprocating, scroll and screw compressors we make available at Compressors Unlimited can help minimize refrigerant leaks and premature compressor failure.

Additionally, the easiest way to detect refrigerant leaks before they escalate into major problems is to conduct periodic inspections. When leaks are found, they should be repaired as soon as possible.

If you want to get in touch with our experienced and reliable professionals who can recommend the most suitable compressor models, spare parts, and accessories for your air conditioning or refrigeration applications, we invite you to contact Compressors Unlimited today.


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