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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.

No Quick Fixes For A/C Problems

Apr 11, 2013

 As warmer weather slowly arrives, it's time for the annual glut of air conditioner repair calls. I'm not an expert on A/C repairs, but have learned enough to not be dangerous. One of the things I've learned is that those little cans of gunk advertised to stop slow leaks in air conditioning systems can be very expensive.

The theory is that a farmer can use the hose that comes with those "stop leak kits" to add product to their air conditioning system that will plug small leaks that slowly drain the refrigerant from the system. 

First, I'm not a fan of "stop leak" products for radiators or air conditioning systems. I confess, in my younger, more impetuous years, I used a stop leak product on a leaky radiator and it worked long enough to finish fieldwork. Then it had to be fixed right. 

But that was a long time ago, and radiators and air conditioning condensers have changed. It has to do with manufacturing processes and the physics of cooling or heating modern farm equipment, but the short story is that the internal passages in modern radiators and especially air conditioning condensors are smaller than they used to be. It's a lot easier for contaminants--or additives--to plug those smaller passages. Add the internal passages in thermal expansion valves, which are part of any air conditioning system, and you've got to wonder how the miracle goo knows which small openings are leaks that need to be plugged, and which are critical components of the air conditioning system that should NEVER be plugged.  Must be smart goo.

So, if you've got a small A/C leak and want to try a temporary fix, nobody's stopping you from adding some of the miracle goo. But later this summer when you have to pay to have the plugged condenser replaced and STILL have the small leak that started the problem...

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