Are they an effective long-term solution, or a temporary quick fix?
What comes to mind when the topic is leak-stop additives for refrigeration systems? Do you use them at your company?
I was speaking with a well-respected and very knowledgeable source the other day. This gentleman has been in the refrigerants industry for decades. His company manufactures and distributes air conditioning and refrigeration products, including an R-22 replacement, and provides refrigerant-related diagnostic support, as well as an online virtual training center. It’s important to note that his company does not manufacture or distribute a refrigerant leak-stop agent.
This person is as Midwestern plain-spoken as they come: he will speak his mind and leave you with no doubt where he stands or what he believes. (And I know that for a fact because our political views are about 180 degrees apart, which leads to many friendly disagreements.)
In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that the refrigerants industry in general and — most recently HFCs in particular — are under fire from regulators, despite the fact that leak rates are at historic lows. “Refrigerants only do harm to the environment — IF they do the harm to the environment that the scientists claim — when they escape from a system,” he correctly pointed out.
He went on to give some credit for the low leak rates to good manufacturing techniques, citing it as another example of the refrigeration industry rising to meet a challenge. But then he surprised me by giving even more credit to leak-stop additives.
“I know leak-stop additives are not endorsed by the OEMs, but they’ve proven themselves as highly effective and efficient,” he said. “They’re not degrading system performance or causing system failures, and over the past five to 10 years they’ve helped keep vast amounts of refrigerants inside systems.”
He added that he rarely goes to the local distributorship without seeing technicians purchasing leak-stop additives, and, when he asks them, the technicians all say the same thing: “They work great.”
“I’m telling you,” he added, “these things are the best-kept secrets in refrigeration. Everybody uses them but nobody talks about them.”
So, let’s talk. Do you use leak-stop additives at your company? If so, when do you use them? And have you found that they provide an effective, long-term solution to refrigerant leaks? If you don’t use them, why not?