Automotive Air Conditioning Accumulators
Accumulators are important in the air conditioning process. One of the main roles of the accumulator is to isolate the compressor from any damaging liquid refrigerant because compressors are only designed to deal with gases. Accumulators also remove moisture and debris from the air conditioning system. When opening the system for any major repair, it is a good idea to replace the accumulator or replace it any time moisture is exposed to the system. The reason for this is that moisture can create a corrosive acid when mixed with refrigerant. It is better to change your accumulator regularly because if it goes unchanged and there is a lot of moisture and debris built up, it can eventually cause a more costly repair and could potentially damage other parts of the air conditioning system. Accumulators operate by using nitrogen to keep the hydraulic fluid pressurized. The nitrogen inside the accumulator becomes compressed when the fluid is pumped inside. When all the hydraulic fluid in the accumulator becomes compressed, the nitrogen can reach 5000 psi. If there is no fluid, the nitrogen’s pressure is around 2000 psi. Pressure of nitrogen in the low pressure reservoir varies from about 60 psi when empty to 200 psi when full. Accumulators are used on fixed expansion tube systems and collect any liquids that leave the evaporators outlet tube. Fluid leaks can occur on a fixed expansion tube because it features a flooded evaporator core. The accumulator is designed to allow a regulated amount of oil and liquid refrigerant into the compressor for lubrication and cooling. The accumulator uses a desiccant bag which stores and absorbs moisture that could contaminate the refrigerant. It is important that this bag is changed when the system is being worked on because moisture that is built up can freeze, corrode, or damage the entire system.
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