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HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

 
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Old 01 Jun 2013, 01:55 am
Obsessed Cruiser
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Mooresville, NC
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Thumbs up HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

Finally, today I finished cleaning out my A/C system. Been since October when I last had a working air conditioner! Was up to 91 degrees (f) this afternoon so I was extremely happy to get it working not just well, but so good that you can literally hang raw meat inside my car when it's on max!!! LOL

So, I'm going to be posting a video to show you how I vacuumed and charged my A/C system, but for now I'm going to post some photos here with some suggestions on how to vacuum down the system after you've corrected whatever leaks or defective A/C items you may have had. Please note that these photos just carry suggestions, the video I post will show you how I actually did the job.

ITEM OF NOTE: I am not responsible for you messing up your A/C system if you do something incorrectly! These are just suggestions and they worked fabulously on my 2006 PT Cruiser GT Convertible! So make sure you find the instructions for YOUR PT and follow them properly!

Now, to start with, I'll use what happened to my A/C system as an example: the Suction Hose blew out and leaked all over the power steering pump and onto the belt that runs from the power steering pump across the belt tensioner, around the A/C Compressor and the crankshaft. So to correct the issues I needed to replace the suction hose ($100 for that hose!) and the belt ($12 for one of the best after-market belts!) so that my A/C system will operate properly.

After replacing the belt and the hose, I needed to vacuum down the A/C system to remove any moisture from within. To do so I purchased a very fancy-schmancy 3CFi, 2-stage Vacuum Pump with a lifetime warranty. I also purchased a very fine set of manifold gauges with R134a Quick-connect valves for Low and Hi sides, and very stable gauges that are 'flicker' proof, filled with fluid to make sure they remain stable. All of this being said, I spent around $350 for all parts and products, including the PAG46 oil and two cans of R134a refrigerant.

Now, here we go:






Once you've made the connections, and you've double-checked everything, open the valves to the Low and Hi side so you are ready to vacuum the system down.

Based on this next photo, I can tell you, and you'll see the results in my video, that getting to the Hi-side connection is a total PITA! Now if you don't know what a PITA is, well go Google it! I can tell you this, I tore up my hand and arm getting this done!!!







Now, here is a VERY STRONG rule - you MUST, again let me repeat that, YOU MUST make darned certain that all your hoses are well connected and that none of them leak. You must also make darned certain that you do a minimum 30 minute vacuum. If you have replaced parts, which means you've opened your system to the atmosphere, then you MUST suck it down for an hour minimum. Mine went about 1 hour 20 minutes and was fabulous when complete.

The target for the vacuum is -30 PSi on the Low side (probably will never reach that, so if you hit -28 then you're doing very well), and on the Hi side you want the needle to slam against the PSi Post! Not joking, when you vacuum the system down you need to insure that you have pulled it all the way down and that you have sucked the system dry.



Now another thing, you must keep the vacuum away from all other items. The exhaust side gets very hot when it's working. Add to it, it will pull the condensation out of your A/C system and you'll see steam rising from the exhaust port. When you watch my video, you'll see exactly what I mean!



After you've allowed the vacuum to suck down for at least an hour, close the valves on the manifold gauge set. This allows the connections to remain open to the Low and Hi sides of the A/C system, but stops the vacuum from pulling anymore. Once you've closed them, turn off your vacuum.

Now, leave them this way for at least 15 minutes - you need to first see if you've it the appropriate levels as listed above, and then in 15 or 20 minutes if the levels have not changed then you don't have any leaks in your system!

After that, you need to close the valves at the Low and Hi sides to keep from allowing the A/C system to suck in any outside atmosphere. After this, you are ready to start charging your A/C system!
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Last edited by Chromenut; 01 Jun 2013 at 01:59 am.
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Old 01 Jun 2013, 02:08 am
Obsessed Cruiser
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Mooresville, NC
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Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

NEXT VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If your system has leaked and you've fixed the leak but didn't replace any item, then you MUST put 1 ounce of PAG46 oil into the system to insure that your compressor is well-oiled!

Now, if you have replaced items, then you need to be aware of this: each hose needs 1 ounce, each item in the system needs 2 ounces, and the compressor needs 3 to 4 ounces, all needing ONLY PAG46 oil. If you use any other viscosity PAG oil other than 46, you will ruin your compressor!

Now even mine has one issue that I have to monitor over the next few days - that is because my system leaked out and I didn't fix it right away, then I've likely lost more than 1 ounce of PAG46 oil. That being said, when you finish charging the system, and you've place PAG46 oil into it, then your compressor will run a bit rough until the oil has circulated throughout the system. That is usually going to be 2 to 3 days of near-constant A/C use. If the compressor continues after the third day to run rough, then you're going to have to vacuum the system back down and add more oil. That or you have your R134a pulled down a bit, then add oil back into the system when you charge back the R134a.

Example: my compressor is running just a tad rough. It doesn't affect the RPM's at idle, but you feel this sort of rough feeling. If that doesn't go away, then I have to pull down my R134a around 100 grams, then insert more PAG46 oil into the system when I recharge it back up with new 100 grams. There are many ways to add in PAG oil, and you can get some ideas from my video when I post it, or go to YouTube and find EricTheCarGuy's video on charging A/C system - he shows you good ways to add PAG oil too.

So, make sure you add in the proper amount of PAG46 oil, and make darned certain you only use PAG46!!!
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Old 01 Jun 2013, 02:27 am
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Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

Now let's go into charging the system. Once you've completed the vacuum steps above, and you've watched the manifold gauges for 15 to 20 minutes and they've not moved, then you are ready to charge your system. First step, close all the valves, ALL OF THEM. Once you have them closed, remove the Hi-side connection.

YES, YOU NEED TO REMOVE IT BECAUSE YOU DO NOT WANT TO CHARGE THE HI-SIDE!!! THAT IS A MAJOR NO-NO!!!!


Now I've figured out some ways to connect up to that totally ridiculous Hi-side connection. Yes, again, it's a total PITA!!!! When I post my video you can laugh at how I got the connections mated. You'll also see how I tore up my arm trying to do that manually!

Two things you MUST do before charging the system: Verify, double then triple-check the temperature outside (if you're working outside, otherwise verify the temp where ever you're doing the work); then add in the proper amount of PAG46 oil to the system.

Now there are many ways to do that - what I do is I use a separate hose that connects directly to the R134a cans then to the Low-side port. I fill that hose with 1/2 ounce of PAG46 until I use up the first can, but you can shut down the can and add more if you need to. It's a pain in the rear to do that, so I suggest you try to get at least a 1/2 ounce in there on the first can. Then when you start the second can (assuming your system is all the way down), you can add the other amount needed. Watch my video or as I suggested, EricTheCarGuy's video, both show interesting ways to add in the PAG oil. Personally, I would suggest you disconnect the Suction Hose and dump the oil in it, then do the vacuum down. That way the vacuum pulls the oil into the compressor, and you don't have to worry about adding any more.



Yes, you may notice the ridiculous airbag alarm displayed on my gauges. I don't know why it's doing that, just started three days ago, very intermittent.



Now, under your hood is supposed to be a factory tag that tells you the amount of R134a used (oh, I'm assuming we're all on R134a now, but some may be on R12). On mine it says 0.510 kg. That is 510 grams. The small cans of R134a as shown above, hold 340 grams. That means if you vacuumed your system all the way down, then you need 1.5 cans of R134a to get your system charged properly! I keep mine on a separate hose simply because the second can still has half left in it and I can just put it on the shelf until I need it again, and don't have to mess with my manifold gauges! Again, you'll see that in the video.

After you start charging up the system, most times you need to do a couple of things to help the system "inhale" the remaining amount of R134a.





Now if you have one of those big ole commercial major league jugs of R134a, you can use the yellow hose to charge your system. You just connect it up to the bottom center connection on the manifold gauges, then open the can up and in it goes. This pushes it through the Low side hose, and you can monitor the pressure until it hits the right amount. If you are like me and go the cheaper way, using a stand-alone hose/gauge for the charging, then after you've hit what appears to be the right PSi on that hose, close it off then connect back up to your Low side and read off your fancy gauge.



Now make darned certain that you hit the proper PSi or you can damage your system.



Lastly, remember this - IT IS ILLEGAL AND IMPROPER TO RELEASE R134a OR R12 INTO THE ATMOSPHERE!!!!!
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Old 07 Jul 2013, 05:33 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 13
Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

I cant figure this 2006 PT cruiser Touring edition ac problem

I install the new Liquid line hose with orfice and accumulator.

I vacuumed the line for 45 min , waited 30 min after no leaks

i put 1.5 cans in it, I hear everything running .

still no cold ac

The liquid line gets really hot, high gauge hits 400 then fans kicks in
then liquid line get cold

stressed!
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Old 07 Jul 2013, 06:24 pm
Fresh Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 13
Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

Isn't the fan suppose to start when AC is on?

Fan turns on only when car gets hot.

I checked both relays. Fine
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Old 07 Jul 2013, 09:13 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 13
Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

OMG

P0481 - Cooling Fan 2 Control Circuit Malfunction

Wasted so much time, I should have scanned the car 1st !

I should have done this first! Grrr

Always scan your car first before anything! RULE#1
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Old 28 Apr 2014, 08:50 pm
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Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

Great How To ChromeNut! I really appreciate all the effort you put into this.

In your post you mentioned 1 oz per hose and 2 oz for every other item. I replaced the "condensor only"... so if I got this right I have to add 2 oz of PAG46 oil? Just want to double check before I take this on.

Thanks again!!!!
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Old 30 May 2016, 07:24 pm
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Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

I am MACS certified and I'm section 609 certified of the Clean Air Act. This Guide is correct except for a few details. You are supposed to charge on the Hi-side of the system, And you do not want to run the compressor at all before adding all of the R134a to the system. While without a proper A/C recharging machine, it is hard to tell the exact amount of R134a added to the system, the outside air temp is usually the same as the pressure reading of the gauge set when the system is not in use. This is not always the case, proper filling of the system with a machine is the best way to ensure proper recharging of the A/C system.

Overcharging and undercharging are both good ways to damage your compressor and the entire A/C system.
Take the time and money to do the job correctly and there will be less problems in the future.
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Old 27 Jul 2016, 02:53 pm
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Default Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

UnitD77 wrote:
Quote:
You are supposed to charge on the Hi-side of the system,
I am confused. The high side will have a pressure above 200 psi
A charging kit, like one from Autozone connects to a low side only. Am I missing something?
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Old 27 Jul 2016, 03:05 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Talking Re: HOW TO VACUUM DOWN & CHARGE YOUR A/C SYSTEM

It was my understanding that any time an A/C system is opened up, you need to replace the receiver/dryer.
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