View Full Version : Dye?

30-04-2002, 05:45 PM
I would like to know if anyone's experience with dye has caused problems with an R-22 split system. I know it's suppose to be chemically inert, but I have heard otherwise. Also, if dye is used, how does it compare to an electronic sniffer at a 3PPM 1/2 oz a year leak rate? :(

30-04-2002, 11:44 PM
The use of such dye, technically voids some manufacturer warranties.

I consider the lubricant in the system to be a "dye". Where there's oil, there's a leak. All the dye does is put color or luminesence into the oil. ;)

Mike Hopkins
01-05-2002, 02:45 AM
The way it was put to me by a Copeland engineer was, if it ain't refrigerant and it ain't oil it don't belong. Some people swear by it, me personally, I don't care for it. It has ruined some hoses and gauges I had hooked to a system that contained it that was un -marked, although the previous mechanic may have put too much in. Who knows, they didn't care to mark the system as to containing dye and left many leaks that had to be repaired. The reclaim service didn't want to take the old refrigerant with dye in it. The oil level sight glasses were stained and had to be cleaned, etc. I could go on but if I do come across another system with the dye in it, the charge will have to go and filters changed, oil changed, etc. until it's gone. JMO

Mike Hopkins

Mike Hopkins
01-05-2002, 02:47 AM
P.S get yourself a bottle of big blue and an H-10 and skip the dye.
Mike Hopkins

01-05-2002, 03:22 PM
Thanks for the advice and clearing up the question on dye. I just see it used so much on new systems today and wondered why? Twenty years ago I was told not to use it...Looks like that still stands! Thanks again!

02-05-2002, 04:32 AM
I have used dye on domestic refrigerators with no adverse effects. I put in a TINY squirt, pull a vacuum to make sure no excess H2O is hiding in it, and charge it up.

I usually find a leak hidden in the evaporator a month later.

I never use dye in the larger systems as it's usually not needed. The oil spot tells the story! LOL

02-05-2002, 12:19 PM
I live in a new development. Some of the new systems here are low as they go into their second season. The only thing I can find wrong with them is the access valve caps aren't torqued properly. No oil present, can't pick anything up running or static. I just can't believe the amount of units that are low. Thanks again all!

02-05-2002, 02:02 PM
On a first visit or first occurence to a (new) customer, on equipment which I have no history and can not reference previous service or installation, I don't try to overanalyze a short charge, particularly if the system is "virgin" or in good shape.

I could spend a whole day searching for a leak (at considerable expense to Mr. Customer), when the unit was just inadequately charged in the first place. You say "second season", maybe the systems were started up in the Fall season, and even though this is the "second season", a short charge didn't manifest itself until spring/summer. Maybe? :rolleyes:

If you don't identify oil at the loose caps, you're not going to find any dye there either!! (if you were to put it in) ;)

If the systems are Carrier, it'll probably have a leaking evaporator!

02-05-2002, 02:31 PM
Seems like most of these units did cool last summer but, this spring we had about 4 days of 90 degree heat and that's when the fail rate astonished me. I will keep a history on them though. Our weather has cooled down again considerably...will see what happens this summer!

02-05-2002, 09:10 PM
Most leaks are easy to find with the tell tale oily stain but some are elusive.

Last year we had a low temp walk in cabinet used by the local university for holding plants and it was regularly losing it's charge. Find and repair one leak and you are back a week later finding another.

Finally, after trying and trying to bottom the problem we injected a shot of dye and the next day went back to have a look. Found the smallest of leaks on the flare nut connecting to the tev which had been over tightened and was showing signs of a fracture. As the flare was covered in ice the dye had spead and was quite a pretty picture under the uv lamp. Without the dye we would have been looking for weeks - maybe even months!

I'm a big fan of using the dye when all else fails.

shaun spencer
02-05-2002, 11:23 PM
Just started up a supermarket, went to old supermarket to recover refrigerant, 2 duel paks, and 7 singles, all full of dye. took gas to wholesaler for disposal, will not use it. bought new hoses. that is not nice stuff, but i did glow in the dark

03-05-2002, 01:01 AM
YA' KNOW... there's oil all over the place, and some dumb*ss can't find a leak!!!! LOL :)

08-05-2002, 07:06 AM
I tend to be reluctant to try new technologies until I have heard others' experience. I finally broke down and tried the UV dye about 10 years ago out of frustration with my eratic electronic detector. Since then I have found UV dye a very useful tool in many cases.

I only use half the recommended amounts and this has eliminated discoloration in sight glasses. One beneficial side effect has been in old semihermetic compressors where the sight glass is too dark to see the oil level, the UV dye makes the oil level visible again (under UV).

I am religious about putting identifying labels on the systems I have put it in. When I am called out on a leaky system, it is a relief to see the UV dye label because I know it will be a much quicker job, and some days, that can mean getting home before the kids are in bed.

It is also the quickest way to sell a new evaporator unit, showing the customer one or more glowing spots, sometimes deep between the fins where even the oil wouldn't show. As far as damage to units and hoses, the dye is an inert compound in a refrigeration oil base. Fresh oil will flush hoses, if that's a problem, and no manufacturer that I have heard of has threatened to void a warranty because of it.

Like anything else, it is only as good as the tech employing it, and education never ends.


11-05-2002, 08:31 PM
Not sure if its possible, but I replaced a lac-4-180 due to erratic operation with dye present.
Removed the oil charge and replaced, no problems since.
All the internal parts of the control were orange. Im not a big fan,
seems like folks dont like to pressure test prior to start up of new equipment.
I like the strategy of the dye additive if all else fails.

12-05-2002, 04:40 AM
The previous reply the one about 2nd season and Mikes above are all good ones. I have used the floro dye and had some good and not so good results. The black light I have will show me the oil without dye in it most times. Has for the Blue or Red dye used both and its a farce has farce has Im concerned. Never got it to work to show any leak. If its not showen up and its a slow leak Im betting on the evap cause of the lower "operating pressure " during run or a real slow high side leak. If it dosnt last verry long It could be any where but suspect the "high side".

I have a Detek Leak detector and its close to the H10. It hasnt let me down since I got it. The others have though. It costs like a H10 too. But I can justify the extra charge to the customer for looken for a leak, when I find it.

07-06-2002, 06:54 PM
Some great input here. I have an older tif 5000 leak detector! Guess it needs to be replaced! Oh my...They sent me dye in the latest case of bubbles~~~!

Thanks everyone!

joe magee
14-10-2007, 05:58 PM
I have used dye in large rack systems with no problems. The only issue I have is it can get messy. it works well in a machine room with the light off the leak really sticks out. with the newer refers it's hard to pinpoint leaks unless the're blowers.