Hybrid sealant, advocates claim, seals, eliminates moisture threat and highlights larger leak holes for repair
Most HVAC&R service techs that are refrigeration leak sealant advocates, say they’d rather fight than switch from the practice of sealing microscopic system leaks with conventional sealants.
However the next generation of sealants – those with a combination sealant, drying agent and dye – are quickly converting even the staunchest regulars of the original sealants.
North American HVAC&R wholesalers on the front lines of the trend say service techs are buying more combination sealants than sealant-only leak applications. “We see a major trend in leak repair where HVAC&R service techs are switching from just sealants to the newer all-in-one sealant applications that also have a drying agent and a dye in it,” said Larry Baker, Branch Manager, of the Baton Rouge (in the US state of Louisiana) branch of Appliance Parts Inc, an HVAC&R distributor with eight locations throughout Louisiana.
Patrick O’Donnell, President of HVAC&R contractor, LoneStar Heating & Cooling, in Houston, Texas, has used conventional sealants since they were invented in 2002. Although he has had hundreds of successful applications of the original sealants in the field, O’Donnell immediately jumped on board when manufacturers began combining sealants with drying agents and dyes in 2009. O’Donnell, whose business is 70% commercial with a specialty in foodservice and restaurants, has used the hybrid sealants in everything from rooftop package units, split air conditioning systems, walk-in coolers, reach-in refrigerators, prep stations and other refrigeration units.
“It’s a no brainer,” said O’Donnell, who has switched to the new type of sealant. “You seal the system and the drying agent removes any moisture to protect against waxing and acid formulation. Then, if the system develops a different leak sometime in the future, the residual sealant in the system’s refrigerant and oil seals it immediately when it leaks out with the refrigerant. If a future leak is larger than 300 microns (the size of a dot made by a ballpoint pen), the advanced flash dye in the system highlights the leak area for detection when using an ultraviolet light and expedites the time-consuming task of finding refrigerant leaks.”
O’Donnell had a couple of clogged metering devices in the past with the original sealants, but he attributes that to previous service companies he suspects exposed the system to moisture that reacted with the sealant inside the system. Today, with over 50 applications of the new sealant, by Cliplight, O’Donnell said he hasn’t had any moisture issues, nor has he had to perform the time-consuming triple evacuations recommended with the original sealants, even on R-410A systems. “You never know who was on a job previously and if they used poor installation practices, so one reason we switched to Super Seal Total was it eliminated the system moisture,” said O’Donnell. “And if you need dye in a system, there’s no mess. Just connect the vacuum-packed can to the low side and contents mix with the refrigerant and oil. You never touch or see the dye unless the system leaks someday.”