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Symptoms of a Clogged Accumulator

by Baptist Johnson

The air conditioning system on your vehicle is designed so each component plays an integral role. Essential to the cooling process is the cycling of refrigerant. Cold air is created as refrigerant is cycled from liquid to gas. However, not every component in the system is designed to come in contact with moisture. The accumulator keeps liquid refrigerant from entering the compressor. A clogged accumulator is a serious problem as air conditioning repairs can be costly. If you suspect something is wrong with your accumulator, troubleshoot your vehicle immediately to prevent further damage.

Poor Cooling Performance

The most common symptom of a clogged accumulator is little or no cold air blowing from your air conditioner vents. In addition to keeping liquid refrigerant out of the compressor, the accumulator removes dirt and debris from the air conditioning system. If the accumulator becomes clogged with dirt refrigerant will fail to properly circulate, which leads to decreased cold air.

Refrigerant Leak

A faulty accumulator will not properly keep liquid refrigerant out of the compressor. Once moisture gets into the air conditioning system, it mixes with refrigerant to form a corrosive acid. As this acid circulates, it eats away at the air conditioner hose creating holes. These holes can leak refrigerant and mineral oil.

Foreign Odor

Moisture in the air conditioning system from a clogged accumulator creates more symptoms than just a refrigerant leak. Most auto air conditioning systems come with a drier installed near the compressor. However, if the drier malfunctions or too much moisture gets into the system, mold and bacteria form inside the system. This creates an unpleasant odor when you turn on your air conditioning system.

High Pressure Ranges

The air conditioning system is designed to maintain specific refrigerant levels. So the pressure levels inside your system should be closely regulated. Too much refrigerant in the system creates high levels of pressure, which can ultimately lead to the components of the system malfunctioning. The accumulator can only withstand a limited amount of pressure from the liquid refrigerant. Too much pressure and the accumulator can clog. To check the pressure ranges on your vehicle, connect manifold gauges to the service valves near the compressor. The low-pressure valve should range between 25 and 40 pounds per square inch. The high-pressure valve should range between 225 and 240 psi.

About the Author

Baptist Johnson was first published in 2000 when a poem he wrote won first prize in a local writing contest. He also writes and edits for Etched Press Society, a micro-publishing company based in Wilmington, N.C. Johnson has a Bachelor of Science in business administration from East Carolina University.

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