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What do bubbles in the sight glass mean?


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Answered 2009-03-03 16:06:43

Bubbles normally means air intrusion into a system. If it is your air conditioner, then you most likely have a cooling coil leak. Other systems would be were you are drawing a vacuum. This is most likely at the suction of a pump or compressor. Good luck! Actually, the bubbles could be completely normal. On the high pressure side, bubbles simply mean not all the high-pressure refrigerant has condensed. Some of it remains as vapor. It could mean you are low on refrigerant, or the high side temp is too high (blocked condensor maybe). In an auto, it is not unusual to have a few bubbles in the sight glass unless you're driving or have a big fan forcing ais across the condensor. There are several reasons for bubbles in the sight glass. If one of the traditional refrigerants showed vapor in the sight glass it often meant there wasn't enough liquid refrigerant being fed to the valve, and more refrigerant was added to the system. Blends could show flashing for the same reason, however, they can also flash when there is plenty of liquid in the receiver. Ironically, this liquid in the receiver could be causing the problem, particularly when the equipment is in a hot environment. Blends will come out of the condenser slightly subcooled - at a temperature below the saturated temperature of the blend at the existing high side pressure. Yet when the blend sits in the receiver, it can "locally fractionate," or change composition slightly by shifting one of the components into the vapor space of the receiver. This will effectively produce a saturated liquid in the receiver, at the same pressure you had before, which flashes when it hits the expanded volume of the sight glass. In most cases these bubbles will collapse when the blend gets back into the tubing which feeds the valve, and the system will operate just fine. Check other system parameters such as pressures, superheat and amperage to confirm whether you have the right charge. Don't rely solely on the sight glass.

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