A/C Flushing

If the compressor has failed, or the system is full of sludge or contamination, the condenser, evaporator and hoses should all be flushed with an approved flushing chemical (such as Dura 141b) to clean the A/C system. Flushing can help prevent repeat compressor failures and system blockages by dislodging and cleaning out sludge and debris. Replacing badly contaminated parts such as the condenser, accumulator or receiver-drier and orifice tube or expansion valve is another way to get rid of these contaminants, but flushing is usually a more practical and economical choice. Regardless of which approach you use, the orifice tube or expansion valve should always be replaced when contamination is found.

NOTE: Some types of compressors can be very difficult to flush completely. These include "parallel" flow condensers and those with extremely small passageways. If contaminated, these types of condensers must be replaced to reduce the risk of a repeat compressor failure. Installing ain in-line filter is also recommended for added insurance,

When a compressor fails, a lot of metallic debris is often thrown into the system. Most of this debris collects in the condenser where it can cause blockages that reduce cooling performance. If the debris is carried through the condenser and enters the liquid line, it can plug the orifice tube or expansion valve. This can block the flow of refrigerant and lubricating oil causing a loss of cooling and possible compressor damage. Debris can also migrate backwards from the compressor through the suction hose causing blockages in the accumulator or receiver-drier.

Another source of trouble can be debris from old hoses that are deteriorating internally. Tiny flakes of rubber can be carried along to the orifice tube or expansion valve and cause a blockage.

Sludge is usually the result of moisture-contamination. The blackish goo that results can damage the compressor and plug the orifice tube or expansion valve. The moisture-absorbing "desiccant" in the accumulator or receiver-drier is supposed to prevent this from happening. But the desiccant can only hold so much moisture. Once saturated, sludge begins to form. So you should also replace the accumulator or receiver-drier if the system is contaminated, has leaks or must be opened up for repairs.

Another reason for flushing is to remove residual lubricating oil from the system. This should be done when retrofitting an R-12 system to R-134a. It should also be done if the lubricating oil is contaminated or the system contains the wrong type of oil for the application. Flushing out the old oil can prevent oil overcharging, reduced cooling performance and/or lubrication incompatibility problems.

For added insurance after flushing, you can install a high side filter to protect the orifice tube or expansion valve from any residual debris that might still be in the system, and/or a second filter in the suction hose to protect the compressor.