Most modern cars have an AC unit. This is designed to make sure that you are feeling comfortable in your car. On a hot day, you can push a button and the car will be filled with cool air. In most cases, you won’t have to worry about the air conditioning system. However, there might be some times when you need to remove the refrigerant, also known as discharging the AC. For example, it might have stopped working and you need to replace a part. Regardless of the reason, let’s look at some of the easy ways that you can discharge the AC from the comfort of your home.
Check The Law
The first step is to check the laws in your local area. Refrigerant can do a lot of damage to the environment. Because of this, some areas are trying to apply more regulation. In this case, they are trying to limit who will be able to work with the refrigerant. As a result, some local areas have put laws in place that require people to have EPA approval before they remove refrigerant. If you proceed and you don’t have one of these certificates, you may receive some substantial fines. In this case, I’d recommend taking it to a local mechanic and getting them to remove the refrigerant for you.
Test The Purity
The first thing that you need to do is test the purity of the refrigerant. This will determine how you proceed. If it’s not pure, you won’t be able to use it again. The purity might also affect how you should remove it.
To find the purity, you’ll need use to use a refrigerant purity tool. You’ll need to find the high and low points, often marked by a plus and minus. Attach the high-pressure port to the refrigerant. Then, it will take a small sample and analyze it. It will then tell you how pure it is.
Discharging A Pure AC Unit
If you have a pure refrigerant, it will be a lot easier to remove. To do this, you’ll need to use an AC service machine. This will come with two ports. Typically, one will be red and one will be blue. The red is the high-pressure end, while blue means low pressure. Connect the red and blue to the corresponding high and low points in the car. Before moving on check that these connections are solid. Many AC service machines will have a red and blue connection to put the other end of the hose into. If you’re unsure about where to connect the hoses, check the instructions that come with the AC service machine.
I’d recommend double-checking that all the connections are solid before you move on. When you’re ready, turn on the machine. In most cases, this will be as simple as pushing a button. When it’s on, you’ll notice that the pressure in the gauges is changing. This shows you how much refrigerant is left in the car. Leave the machine to run until the gauge reaches zero. You’ll then be able to turn it off. Your AC unit will now be discharged and you’ll be able to start working on it.
Discharging An Impure AC Unit
As we mentioned, it’s possible that you might not have a pure refrigerant. In this case, you’ll need to modify the procedure slightly. This will ensure that you don’t end up damaging the AC machine. Thankfully, this is a relatively easy problem for you to solve. You’ll need to use some filters. This will remove any impurities before they can reach the AC unit. Once the filters are in place, the process will be the same as above. Connect the hoses, check they are secure, then push the button and turn it on.
Test The AC
Once you’ve removed the refrigerant, it’s a good time to test the AC system. In this case, leave the vacuum running for a few minutes. Look at the pressure. It should be consistent. If it’s not, it could be a sign that there is a hole in the AC system. You’ll need to patch this before you put in any new AC fluid. If you don’t the fluid will leak out. This could spell big problems for the engine. If you can’t find and fix the hole yourself, you might want to consider taking it to a mechanic and getting them to have a look at it.
What To Do With The Old AC Fluid?
At the end of this process, you should have collected all the old refrigerant. As we mentioned, it can often be environmentally damaging, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re storing it properly. Then, you’ll need to decide what you are going to do with it. This will often depend on whether or not it was pure. If you did have pure AC fluid, you’ll be able to put it back into the car. If not, it’s best to use fresh fluid, to prevent any potential problems.
If you are planning on getting rid of the refrigerant, you’ll have to make sure that you’re disposing of it properly. This will limit your environmental impact. It’ll also make sure that you don’t cop a fine from the EPA. According to the EPA, you have three options. You can either safely store it. Often, this isn’t a good idea, as there’s not much you can do with the liquid. Secondly, you’ll be able to send it to an EPA approved facility to be destroyed. Finally, you might want to send it to be reclaimed. This factsheet from the EPA goes into more detail.
Being able to discharge your car AC at home can be a great way of saving money, as you won’t need to go to the mechanic. As long as you have the right equipment, it shouldn’t be too difficult to remove the refrigerant, allowing you to perform maintenance and keep your car in good condition.