Although we didn't need anything other than the gauges and a few ounces of refrigerant for the tune-up, Alan has a few other items for more advanced A/C work, should they be needed.
If the A/C system has a major leak or an item is replaced due to failure, a good vacuum pump is needed to completely evacuate all of the air from the system before refrigerant is added. Alan said this one will pull a vacuum down to about 20 microns (which is about as void of air as you can get without getting into some serious equipment).
In order to accurately determine the amount of air left in the system when the vacuum pump is running, Alan uses a digital gauge that is thousands of times more accurate than a mechanical dial gauge. After the vacuum pump has evacuated the air from the system, the pump valve is closed and this gauge monitors for any leakage. The LEDs on the gauge light up and indicate just how air tight your system really is.
This little beauty came from the folks at SnapOn tools. It is a refrigerant detector that also contains a UV light source used to illuminate UV refrigerant die. When you turn it on, a small pump draws a very small amount of air through the flexible hose and the unit "sniffs" for extremely tiny amounts of refrigerant.
As a demo, Alan grabbed a gauge hose and placed the port coupler near the end of the sniffer. Wow....it lit up, as you can see, light a Christmas tree! I can see where this would be invaluable when you had a tiny leak in the system and you were trying to determine where it was. You can also add UV detectable die to add to the refrigerant system which when leaked out, can be seen with the UV light and special glasses that come with the sniffer. Neat tool!
Well, that is about it for this write-up. For those that were wondering, a reasonably priced set of R-134a gauges runs about $100 to $150. It doesn't take too many trips to the local A/C fix it shop before you can recover the cost of the gauges, if you decide to go that route.
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