To Flush, Or Not To Flush, That Is The Question

To Flush, Or Not To Flush, That Is The Question

What do you do with an A/C system that contains compressor debris, sludge and other forms of solid contaminants? Should you flush it? Unfortunately, there is no simple or direct answer to this A/C repair dilemma. The answer depends on various circumstances, the vehicle, design of the condenser and the type of contaminants in the system.

How Do Condensers Become Full?

Think of the condenser of your A/C system as a trash collector. Any debris or dirt that comes out of the compressor goes into the condenser. Oil, dirt, and debris collect into it because it is a low spot in the A/C system. The debris does not just stay there though. Refrigerant that flows through the condenser picks up the debris and carries it to the orifice tube. It can also carry it to the expansion valve or even back to the compressor. As debris accumulates, it plugs up the expansion valve or the orifice tube. This results to blockage which then results to loss of cooling. This kind of blockage is dangerous because it prevents circulation of oil in the system, a setback that starves the compressor for lubrication.

Why Not Just Replace A Dirty Condenser?

This is actually what most A/C experts recommend. Unfortunately, replacing a condenser is never cheap.  It gets worse where the vehicle in question is a new and rare model. Keep in mind too that some car models usually come along with condenser and radiator cooling modules. One is left with no choice but to consider flushing. This should be done with an approved flushing chemical that can get rid of all the contaminants.

Are There Disadvantages Of Flushing?

Flushing can help you save a lot of money and time. But then again, flushing increases the risk of repeat compressor failure. It also increases the chances of orifice tube and expansion valve blockage. This can only happen though if the flush fails to get rid of the entire gunk in the condenser. Your best bet here is to make sure that flushing is done right. That is just but one of the many reasons why the process must be done by an A/C expert.

Does Flushing Interfere With Warranty?

Most compressor manufacturers never honor their warranty where the replacement compressor failed because of improper flushing or recontamination. Remember that if you had the condenser flushed and it still did not get clean or if you used an unapproved cleaning product to flush the A/C system and your new compressor failed as a result, you still won’t qualify for warranty. You will also risk a repeat compressor glitch or failure. This is once again, a good reason why you must always leave the job for experts and why you must use an approved cleaning product.

Is Flushing The Same For Parallel Flow and Serpentine Condensers?

Flushing always follows the path that has the least resistance. This means it is not the same for parallel flow and serpentine style condensers. In a serpentine style condenser for instance, the refrigerant follows just one path. The flushing chemical will therefore follow the same path from entrance to exit. This is not what happens when it comes to parallel flow condensers.  The flush may or may not flow through all the tubes especially if some tubes are completely or partially blocked. That is why most experts do not recommend flushing parallel flow condensers.