Switching Sealants to Hybrids
North American HVACR wholesalers say service techs are buying more combination sealants than sealant-only leak applications. “We see a major trend in leak repair where HVACR service techs are switching from just sealants to the newer all-in-one sealant applications that also have a drying agent and a dye in it,” said Larry Baker, branch manager, of the Baton Rouge, La., branch of Appliance Parts Inc., an HVACR distributor with eight locations throughout Louisiana.
Patrick O’Donnell, president of contractor LoneStar Heating & Cooling, Houston, has used conventional sealants since they were invented in 2002. Although he has had hundreds of successful applications of the original sealants in the field, O’Donnell has been using a product that combines sealants with drying agents and dyes since 2009. O’Donnell, whose business is 70 percent commercial with a specialty in foodservice and restaurants, has used the hybrid sealants in everything from rooftop package units, split air conditioning systems, walk-in coolers, reach-in refrigerators, prep stations, and other refrigeration units.
As an example, O’Donnell switched from Super Seal™ Classic by Cliplight, to the manufacturer’s hybrid sealer (Super Seal Total 2, which has three of the company’s products in one can application — Super Seal Classic sealant, Dry R™ moisture-removal agent, and Flash™ dye).
Said O’Donnell, “You seal the system and the drying agent removes any moisture to protect against waxing and acid formulation. Then if the system develops a different leak sometime in the future, the residual sealant in the system’s refrigerant and oil seals it immediately when it leaks out with the refrigerant. If a future leak is larger than 300 microns (the size of a dot made by a ballpoint pen), the advanced flash dye in the system highlights the leak area for detection when using an ultraviolet light and expedites the time consuming task of finding refrigerant leaks.”
O’Donnell said he had a couple of clogged metering devices in the past with the original sealants, but he attributes that to previous service companies he suspects exposed the system to moisture that reacted with the sealant inside the system. Today, with over 50 hybrid applications, O’Donnell hasn’t had any moisture issues, nor has he had to perform the triple evacuations recommended with the original sealants, even on HFC-410A systems. “You never know who was on a job previously, and if they used poor installation practices, so one reason we switched was it eliminated the system moisture. And if you need dye in a system, there’s no mess. Just connect the vacuum-packed can to the low side and contents mix with the refrigerant and oil. You never touch or see the dye unless the system leaks someday.”
Carlos Gallardo, senior service technician, Orangutan Home Services, Phoenix, said he has over 200 successful applications of the original sealants in residential central air conditioning units, which is the majority of Orangutan’s business. Last year, however, he switched to the hybrid sealant and has an additional 150 sealed units using it to date.
Although he always evacuated the system to prepare the 200 applications of original sealants, Gallardo said he had a couple callbacks when the sealant didn’t work, due to what he suspects was moisture problems. Another 10 callbacks were due to the fact the leak holes were too large. (A system that loses a large percent of its charge quickly probably is a bad candidate for any sealant, because the leak hole is too large.)
Using the hybrid however, he’s had only two callbacks not due to moisture, but because the leak holes surpassed 300 microns. “It’s the drying agent in the new sealants that really make them foolproof because moisture is no longer a factor,” said Gallardo.
He said the two callbacks were an easy diagnosis because the leak holes already had dye markings from the sealant/drying agent/dye that leaked out with the refrigerant, which Gallardo repaired conventionally.
Using the hybrid sealants with a drying agent helps reduce service time as well, said those who work with the technology. With the original sealants, lengthy evacuations were required to eliminate moisture contamination. Today, Gallardo said he saves between 30 to 60 minutes because the drying agent typically removes any residual moisture and makes evacuating unnecessary in most cases.
More service techs are switching from just sealants to the combination sealant, drying agent and dye, according to HVAC wholesalers. “We have many wholesale customers that have higher increases of Super Seal Total, than Super Seal Classic,” said Tony Dylewski, a salesman for HVAC manufacturer’s representative, Reacond Associates, Euless, Texas.
Gallardo claims sealants help people retain comfortable homes because many times homeowners don’t have the funds for a leak detection and repair or a new unit. Probably the most important thing concerning sealants, according to Gallardo, is environmental preservation. “Sealants help service techs prevent leaks, thus preserving the environment and protecting the Earth from escaped refrigerants,” he said.
Publication date: 09/05/2011