Vacuums and refrigeration–sound like an overlap you’ve ever heard of? If this is your first brush with the vacuum-refrigeration crossover, we’ve got all the information you need here.
Vacuuming–also referred to as evacuating–is an essential point of maintenance for any refrigeration system. Simply put, the process’ goal is to remove unwanted moisture from the refrigeration system in order to not only lengthen the life of your machine but also lengthen the life of the things you store inside it. During the evacuation process, we utilize a specialized vacuum pump to turn the system into a vacuum, which removes moisture, air, and nitrogen–all of which are known nemeses to the refrigerant system.
Now that we know roughly what the process is, when is it important to utilize it? Well, there are a few situations in which evacuating an HVAC system is necessary. This includes before charging a new refrigeration system with new refrigerant, in the event of loss of refrigerant due to a leak, or after any repair that required opening the system. A good rule of thumb is to look at any instance where the HVAC refrigerant environment is opened as a situation wherein it must also be evacuated. During these scenarios, the environment is opened and is thus vulnerable to the entrance of unwanted moisture or other particles.
Let’s look at the process of evacuation and why it’s so important to your system’s longevity. First, the system will enter what’s called the degassing stage; here, the system is vacated of all air or vapors with the use of a vacuum, which proves to be a fairly quick process.
Next enter the ever-important dehydration stage. Here, a vacuum pump is used to alter the pressure inside the system so that the environment’s pressure is below that of the vapor pressure of water at room temperature–sounds like a mouthful, right? Essentially, this step causes any water in a liquid form that’s inside the system to boil off, which allows it to be removed from the system altogether.
To put it shortly, evacuation is crucial to the overall health of your system. If water, air, or nitrogen are left to fester within the refrigerant system, it can wreak havoc, causing the system to malfunction or worse–damage the entire system.
How do moisture and nitrogen damage the system, though? Remember in elementary school when we collectively observed how oil and water cannot mix and stay indefinitely separated? Keep that image in mind as we explain just how detrimental moisture can be to the refrigeration system.
Like most machines, oil-based lubricant is used in the compressor within the refrigerant system. Cue the entrance of all those lovely unwanted water droplets and water vapor: worlds collide. The natural enemies of water and oil meeting on this battleground can cause a lot of grief for you and your refrigerator. As they mix, an acidic sludge is formed inside the compressor, which can easily cause the whole system to fail–and rightfully so. The aforementioned grief that it can cause you can be attributed to the fact that a compressor is one of the most expensive parts to replace in a refrigerating system, and all caused by a few drops of water or nitrogen!
Enough with the scare tactics–how can you ensure that your system stays in tip-top shape? What does the ideal process look like? One thing that you always want to be sure of is that your technician is pulling below 500 microns (something that is standard practice here at Tri-Point). Pulling below 500 microns: what does that mean?
For our purposes, microns are a measure of pressure, and pressure is what your Tri-Point technician will use in order to create the ever-important vacuum inside the system during the evacuation process. The act of pulling below 500 microns of pressure (remember what we learned in physics in high school: when the number is lower, the pressure is higher!) is to create the ideal vacuum inside the system to suck out the unwanted moisture and nitrogen. Pulling any less than 500 microns can risk leaving behind those particles, thus risking the life of your whole machine.
Here at Tri Point, it is standard practice to always pull below 500 microns to ensure that your wallet and machine are at their healthiest. With maintaining your machine, Tri-Point is excited to help you along the way, and our professional technicians will keep your machine running smoothly and healthily, while also extending its life and the life of your dollar.
For a direct line to any of our employees ready on the line to help you, please call…(512) 651-4565 for our Austin, Texas community (806) 686-0050 for our Lubbock, Texas community.
Or check out our website at www.tripointrefrigeration.com