AC Recharge - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-01-2006, 12:21 AM   #1
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If your compressor isn't broken can't you recharge the freon in an RV AC? One shop told me if it stops blowing cold to get another AC.
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Old 07-01-2006, 07:01 AM   #2
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Benita,

I don't think you can buy Freon in my neck of the woods. Some businesses stockpiled Freon and were able to charge refrigeration units for awhile. Conversion to non-Freon involves changing compressor and lines, probably not practical for an old RV unit. You could try another repair shop or two. If you do find some Freon, you would probably also need a new seal for the compressor.
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Old 07-01-2006, 09:00 AM   #3
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Technically, I think it is possible. Practically, it may be more trouble than it is worth. Very few places bother to stock Freon these days. Converting the unit to one of the new refrigerants would cost more than replacing the unit. Does you A/C have ports to evacuate and charge the system? IF not, cutting into the lines and installing ports is way expensive.

Manufacturers have encouraged the "disposable" versus "repairable" concept. If your A/C is a 1982 model, a new unit would probably use less energy and provide more cooling.

There is usually one or two shops around that will recharge an A/C system. Definitely not RV shops. A/C repair shops can be limited in what they will work on. Try an apppliance repair shop. One that works on portable A/C and refrigerators.

Now is not the time to have an A/C that does not cool. I hope you are able to chill out soon.

Curt
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:15 AM   #4
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FWIW, propane is an excellent refrigerant. It's also highly flammable. That's partly why it's not generally used.

However, I find it interesting that we don't accept it as a refrigerant, but accept it as a fuel purchased in tin cans from the shelves of such establishments as Wal-Mart, drug stores, hardware stores, etc. with no compunction.

I'm also under the impression that DuPont company may have had something to do with this cozy little situation in their aspiration to make FREON a the only word in refrigerants.

This is only an opinion, and I sincerely respect other's opinions. In fact, I have been known to accept and embrace other's opinions that turned out to be better than my own.
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:26 AM   #5
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Practically, it may be more trouble than it is worth.
Here in California, Freon is extinct, I think. About 6 years ago there was a media storm about people smuggling it in from Mexico. Unless you are an insider in the HVAC industry with international black market connections, I believe that that shop gave you good advice.
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Old 07-01-2006, 10:39 AM   #6
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My AC is cooling fine. I am looking ahead. Ultimately, I'd like a more energy efficient and generator-friendly way to cool when off grid in swampy bayou territory.
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:19 AM   #7
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Freon is not extinct, but no new R-12 is being made or imported into the USA. For more information about R-12 and other refrigerants, see http://www.r-12.com/ or your favorite search engine.

I've purchased R134a several times to recharge the air conditioning in my '95 Jeep Grand Cherokee, along with the hoses and fittings needed to get it into the system. It is not against any law for anyone to buy or possess this product.

Having said that, if your RV air conditioner isn't working due to a leak, it may be cheaper to replace it rather than rechargeing your old system. The time involved to evacuate, check for leaks and recharge the system would be 2-3 hours at $75 per hour. If leaks are found, or a compressor or other component needs to be replace your cost will be much higher.

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Old 07-01-2006, 11:43 AM   #8
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Freon is not extinct, but no new [b]R-12 is being made or imported into the USA.
Thank you, Dan, for that important clarification.

I assumed that your Air Conditioner was using [b]R-12 since you used the term "Freon". The places I have come in contact here call the [b]R134a stuff refrigerant.

If your A/C already is using [b]R134a, then you can recharge it, or have it recharged.
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Old 07-01-2006, 02:56 PM   #9
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Thank you, Dan, for that important clarification.

I assumed that your Air Conditioner was using [b]R-12 since you used the term "Freon". The places I have come in contact here call the [b]R134a stuff refrigerant.

If your A/C already is using [b]R134a, then you can recharge it, or have it recharged.

'Refrigerant' is the same in an Air Conditioner as a compressor refrigerator. The difference between R-12 and R-134 is chemical make of each type. Those are only two of many refrigerants. R-12 was the most commonly used in consumer appliances. The chemical make up of R-12 is thought to damage the ozone layer around the earth. As said earlier it's no longer manufactured.
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Old 07-03-2006, 04:57 PM   #10
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The refrigerant in you AC unit is probably R-22 which is what is used in your home refrigerator.

R-12 and R-134 are refrigerants used in automotive AC units.

The trouble trying to re-charge rv ac units is there are no taps on the compressor lines.

Cars have built in taps in the system so it is easy to work on the systens.

A refrigeration man that works on home refrigerators may be able to help you bui I would ask him for a bid before i spent o much.

Harv in Colo.

I am an AC tech.
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Old 07-03-2006, 11:53 PM   #11
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Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that a system like a home reefer or a/c window or RV unit is less likely to leak refrigerant because the system is completely sealed at the factory with the compressor INSIDE, therefore the need for fittings is low.

Conversely, automotive a/c has the compressor outside, so it can be turned by a fan belt, so there are seals that are more likely to leak over time.
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Old 07-04-2006, 09:07 AM   #12
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My 1997 vintage Dometic has R-22, as predicted by Harv. This refrigerant is similar to R-12 (Freon) except for only one chlorine in the molecule. Less destructive, but still not very reassuring in terms of ozone depletion. Interesting thread!

I gather there is not a lot of DIY maintenance an ordinary owner can do on the AC, other than 1-removing the shroud and cleaning compressor coil, etc. 2-cleaning the air intake filter on the inside. Maybe it helps to try and straighten the coil fins that have been bumped a time or two as well. The electrical trouble shooting seems complicated and could be dangerous!
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Old 07-07-2006, 04:03 PM   #13
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A couple of days ago I removed the AC shroud and vacuumed the unit. I gave the inside of the shroud a good hosing while it was off. The electrical contacts were clean, so I didn't do anything to them. On replacing the shroud some of the screws were stripped, so I replaced them with larger diameter sheet metal screws, except for the 2 odd ones in the rear.

After getting the AC back together, I gave it a good test. It still puts out air in the mid 50s after all these years. Out of curiosity I called AAA Appliance in Sacramento. Recharging these sealed units is about 3 hours labor at $90 per hour, plus the cost of R-22 refrigerant. Easy to see why some folks just get a new unit! These roof top units (Brisk Air and Polar Cub) are $521 at Camping World.
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