This write-up was originally featured in Engineered Systems

Modern refrigeration systems have come a long way from their predecessors, and though the technologies are better and more reliable, they are still pressurized systems. As such, they can be prone to potentially hazardous leaks. In many instances, the leak may be barely detectable, but its effects are still damaging and costly.

Leaks & VRF Systems

Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) HVAC systems have been widely used globally over the past three decades but only found popularity in the U.S. in the early 2000s. The technology has many advantages, including:

  • It is known for its energy efficiency;
  • It is cost-effective and experiences a rapid return on investment;
  • It can provide heating and cooling functionality simultaneously across different rooms or zones in a building;
  • It can be scaled to meet the needs of a small residency all the way up to a large-scale commercial building;
  • It is sleek and compact; and
  • These systems are easy to install, particularly because no ductwork is required.

But, as with any pressurized refrigeration system, leaks can occur from a variety of sources within VRF systems. Most often, leaks are the result from improper installation, factory defects, mechanical wear from vibration, or physical damage. They can also develop due to standard wear and tear on the equipment over a period of time or after the equipment has suffered physical damage. VRF systems pose unique challenges when it comes to detecting leaks. They have long refrigerant lines and use flare fitting connections, which have a tendency to become loose if they are not properly torqued. This creates a large area in which leaks may occur. READ MORE