This time of year we get many calls asking how to handle sealant that has been installed in vehicle AC systems. While there is no “One Size Fits All” solution, there are some basic steps that should be taken to minimize the risk and maximize any rewards.
To better understand the problem, let’s walk through the process of getting sealant into a system.
The process starts when Mr. Joe “Backyard” Mechanic comes home from a hard day’s work only to find his wife waiting at the door to tell him the AC in the car was not working. Joe promises to get it taken care of over the weekend and offers to swap cars with her until it is fixed. The weekend arrives and Joe jumps in her car to go and wait at the door of his local auto parts store until they open. The young man behind the counter, let’s call him Sparky, listens to Joe’s description of the problem, grabs a gauge set from the drawer and checks the refrigerant pressure in the system. Alas the gauge reads “0” and Sparky relays both the bad news and the good news to Joe. The bad news is the refrigerant leaked out. The good news is that the store is having a sale on “AC Magic in a Can” and Joe can have his wife’s beloved car blowing ice cold air in no time. Sparky explains that “AC Magic in a Can” is the leading brand of DIY refrigerant and comes with a handy gauge so Joe can tell when the system is fully charged. As a bonus, this product includes sealants capable of sealing small leaks in both metal and rubber parts as well as dye and oil. Joe purchases two cans and drives home to get the problem fixed.
After arriving home, Joe meticulously reads the directions and before he knows it, the AC is blowing cold again. Until Monday when Joe returns from work only to find his wife again waiting at the door after driving home with no AC. Joe had bought two cans at the store so he jumps into action. He reviews the directions again, installs the new can of AC Magic and gets the AC blowing cold again……Until Tuesday, when the AC in the wife’s car once again fails to provide cold air. At this point, Joe decides the time has come to make an appointment with his trusted mechanic to get the problem fixed once and for all.
So now that this vehicle has a double dose of sealant inside that has not been able to seal the leaking system what next? It is important to realize that DIY customers will not always tell you everything you may need to know. Even if you ask the right questions, many DIYers will be too proud or embarrassed to tell you what they tried in their driveway.
The first step to deal with sealant is to find it. Using a sealant detector is an important step because it will tell you if there is any active sealant in the system that is capable of sealing a very small leak. It is important to note that there are some sealants that just do not work or at least, do not work very well.
If sealant is found in the system, it is very important to have good filtration between the vehicle and the AC Service Machine. Airsept Filters are designed to prevent sealant from getting to your AC Service Machine allowing safe recovery of any refrigerant remaining in the system.
After the refrigerant has been recovered, it is critical that all of the oil be flushed from the system. This may require the individual components to be flushed independently. Hecat specializes in flushing solutions and offers a range of products designed for the most demanding applications.
In the end, all systems with sealant can be successfully repaired. Some will need almost all new parts while others will need only a leak repaired and a complete and thorough flush. Knowing what you are dealing with is the first and most important step in the whole process.