TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE

TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE
TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE
The following guide will help the installer determine if a problem exists in the system
that would cause a malfunction. If you are experiencing problems in the physical
operation of the unit ( blower speeds, door operation, etc.), we encourage you to
refer to the wiring diagram located in the instruction manual. Using a continuity or
light tester you can solve many of the simple problems by tracing all connections and
testing them individually. However, if the unit is functioning correctly, but it is not
cooling, you can refer to the following guide that will outline the most common problems
encountered by installers.
I. TEST CONDITIONS USED TO DETERMINE SYSTEM OPERATION
A. PLACE TEMPERATURE PROBE (THERMOMETER) INTO CENTER OUTLET.
B. CONNECT GAUGES OR SERVICE EQUIPMENT TO HIGH/LOW CHARGING
PORTS
C. PLACE BLOWER FAN SWITCH ON MEDIUM.
D. CLOSE ALL DOORS AND WINDOWS ON VEHICLE.
E. PLACE SHOP FAN OR HEAVY DUTY SQUIRREL-CAGE BLOWER
DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF CONDENSER.
F. RUN ENGINE IDLE UP TO 1500 RPM.
( THESE TEST CONDITIONS WILL SIMULATE THE AFFECT OF DRIVING THE
VEHICLE AND GIVE THE TECHNICIAN THE THREE CRITICAL READINGS
THAT THEY WILL NEED TO DIAGNOSE ANY POTENTIAL PROBLEMS )
II. ACCEPTABLE OPERATING PRESSURE RANGES FOR VINTAGE AIR
SYSTEMS
A. R134A TYPE
1. HIGH-SIDE PRESSURES ( 160-250 PSI ) * Note- general rule of thumb is
two times the ambient ( daytime ) temperature, plus 15-20%.
2. LOW-SIDE PRESSURES ( 06-18 PSI in a steady state)
3. CENTER DUCT TEMPERATURE ( 36-46 DEGREES F.)
B. R12 TYPE
1. HIGH-SIDE PRESSURES ( 140-230 PSI ) * Note- general rule of thumb is
two times the ambient ( daytime ) temperature, plus 15%.
2. LOW-SIDE PRESSURES ( 12-15 PSI in a steady state)
3. CENTER DUCT TEMPERATURE ( 36-46 DEGREES F.)
Charge as follows: R134A = 1.8 lbs
R12= 2.0 lbs
No additional oil is necessary in new compressors
III. TYPICAL PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED IN CHARGING SYSTEMS
A. NOISY COMPRESSOR
1. A noisy compressor is generally caused by overcharging the system or
introducing outside air into the system.
a. If the system is overcharged both gauges will read abnormally high readings.
This is causing a feedback pressure on the compressor causing it to rattle or shake from
the increased cylinder head pressures. System must be evacuated and re-charged to exact
weight specifications.
b. If air is introduced into the system during charging it will introduce moisture
that will cause ice to form in the refrigerant flow and will cause the compressor to rattle
or growl under acceleration. System must be evacuated and re-charged to exact weight
specifications making sure to bleed any air from lines when introducing the refrigerant.
B. SYSTEM NOT COOLING
1. There are numerous factors that can cause the cooling to be less than optimal.
a. Improper charge in system- Improper charging is the number one cause of
system failure. The pressure readings should be taken before any determination can be
made. High or low readings in direct proportion to the normal pressures(see sect. II) will
tell you if the charge is too high or low. Excessive system pressure can also cause
vibrations and whistling noises from the expansion valve and refrigerant lines.
b. Heater control valve installation- Installing the heater control valve in the
incorrect hose will allow water to collect in the unit. The heater control is a directional
valve; make sure the water flow is with the direction of the arrow. As the engine
heats up that water transfers the heat to the coil, thus overpowering the a/c coil. A leaking
or faulty valve will have a more pronounced affect on the unit’s cooling ability. Installing
the valve improperly (such as having the flow reversed) will also allow water to flow
through, thus inhibiting cooling. Check for heat transfer by disconnecting hoses from the
system completely. By running down the road with the hoses looped backed through the
motor, you eliminate the possibility of heat transfer to the unit. Move or replace the valve
if necessary
c. Evaporator freezing- Freezing can occur both externally and internally on
an evaporator core. External freeze up occurs when the coil cannot effectively displace
the condensation on the outside fins and the water forms ice (the evaporator core
resembles a block of solid ice), it restricts the flow of air that can pass through it, which
gives the illusion of the air not functioning. The common cause of external freezing is the
setting of the thermostat and the presence of high humidity in the passenger
compartment. All door and window seals should be checked in the event of constant
freeze-up. A thermostat is provided with all units to control the cycling of the
compressor. The gas-filled probe will often come coiled up and must be installed into the
coil through the access hole located in the top of each unit.
The rotary-type thermostat should be set all of the way clockwise and turned back
counterclockwise an eighth of a turn. The lever-type thermostat should be backed
away from the cold position slightly.
Internal freeze up occurs when there is too much moisture inside the system. The
symptoms of internal freeze up often surface after extended highway driving. The volume
of air stays constant, but the temperature of the air gradually rises. When this freezing
occurs the low side pressure will drop, eventually going into a vacuum. At this point, the
system should be checked by a professional who will evacuate the system and change the
drier.
d. Inadequate airflow to condenser- The condenser works best in front of the
radiator with a large supply of fresh air. Abnormally high pressures will result from
improper airflow. Check the airflow requirements by placing a large capacity fan in front
of the condenser and running cool water over the surface. If the pressures drop
significantly, this will indicate the need for better airflow.
e. Incorrect or inadequate condenser capacity- Incorrect condenser capacity
will cause abnormally high head pressures. Vintage Air recommends at least 300 cubic
inches of fin area on a double-pass (two rows of tubes) condenser. ( This can be
measured by multiplying the height times the width times the thickness ) This rule only
applies to the tube and fin style, the efficiency of the superflow design allows the use of a
smaller area. A quick test that can be performed is to run cool water over the condenser
while the system is operating, if the pressures decrease significantly, it is likely a airflow
or capacity problem.
f. Expansion valve failure- An expansion valve failure is generally caused by
dirt or debris entering the system during assembly. If an expansion valve fails it will be
indicated by abnormal gauge readings. A valve that is blocked will be indicated by high
side that is unusually high, while the low side will be unusually low or may even go into
a vacuum. A valve that is stuck open will be indicated by both the high and low pressures
rising to unusually high readings, seeming to move toward equal readings on the gauges.
g. Restrictions in system- A restriction in the cooling system will cause
abnormal readings on the gauges. A high-side restriction ( between the compressor and
the drier inlet ) will be indicated by the discharge gauges reading excessively high.
These simple tests can be performed by a local shop and can help determine the extent of
the systems problem. If further assistance is needed, our tech line is (210) 654-7171.
If you have performed the initial tests, please document the results and readings before
calling our technical line, it will help us solve the problem faster.
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