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Superheat: The Best Way to Tune an Air Conditioning System

As energy costs increase and air conditioning system efficiency becomes more critical, the need for accurate superheat measurements becomes more important. Unfortunately, many technicians take shortcuts when it comes to performing their superheat calculations. Some technicians, under pressure to hurry to the next job, speed the process by making assumptions without taking measurements, or take quick measurements with inadequate instrumentation. Bill Brown, HVAC instructor at Brownson Technical School, Anaheim, CA, gives this example: "Instead of measuring suction line temperature, some technicians will wrap their bare hand around the pipe and judge by feel. The theory is that if the line is as cold as good cold beer, the system is charged. Unfortunately, that's just not accurate, and we do everything we can to dis-courage this kind of sloppiness." The results of these "guesstimates" are overcharged or undercharged systems that burn power and operate below optimum levels. In some cases, poor superheat calculations can lead to compressor burnout. To determine the best way to measure super-heat, we asked some HVAC instructors how they taught superheat, and what instruments they recommend to make taking superheat measurements faster and easier. Defining Superheat Superheat is defined as the difference between the temperature at which the refrigerant boils at the given pressure in the evaporator, and the temperature of the refrigerant gas as it leaves the evaporator. In essence, it's how much extra temperature the refrigerant picks up after it has boiled. In a worst-case scenario with an over-charged system and a low indoor heat load, the refrigerant in the evaporator remains in liquid form in the coil and moves into the compressor as a liquid, quickly destroying it. A distinction must be made between systems that employ a thermostatic expansion valve (TXV) and those that have a fixed restrictor/flow-rater. In a properly adjusted system, the TXV controls the flow of refrigerant to ensure superheat is always within a certain range regardless of the condition. On a TXV system that is starved (undercharged), the superheat will go up above the range. But on an overcharged TXV system, the superheat will not go below the range. The TXV will pinch off the flow of refrigerant to keep the superheat within specified conditions, resulting in significantly decreased efficiency. For this reason, to properly charge these systems the technician simply charges to the subcooling. Most problems with superheat occur on fixed restrictor systems. In a well-tuned system, the actual (or measured) superheat varies with the load. The higher the load, the sooner the refrigerant turns into a gas, the more heat it picks up after it evaporates, and the higher the superheat. The lower the load, the later the refrigerant evaporates in the evaporator coil, the less heat is picked up after evaporation, and the lower the superheat. Target Superheat vs. Actual Superheat Using superheat measurements to determine the correct refrigerant charge is not that difficult, and the savings in energy and potential repairs are significant. There are only four measurements to take: two to determine the target super-heat and two to determine the actual superheat.

For target superheat, the two measurements are outdoor dry bulb temperature and indoor wet bulb temperature. For actual superheat the measurements are boiling/saturation point and suction line temperature. First, determine the target superheat. To do this, take the outdoor air temperature from the air that is going into the condenser coil. Then, determine the wet bulb temperature from in front of the indoor return grille, or better yet, just in front of the evaporator coil. "The dry bulb temperature is obvious," says Les Haddix, an HVAC instructor at Sequoia Institute, Fremont, CA. "However, many technicians think that wet bulb refers only to indoor comfort. In reality, it's very important in determining the right superheat. "One of the shortcuts a lot of technicians use is to assume a relative humidity of 50% when determining super-heat. But that's just the system's design parameter. If the relative humidity is higher than that and the technician assumes 50%, the tech will overcharge the system. If the humidity is lower, he'll undercharge." Armed with these two measurements, refer to the manufacturer's display chart supplied with the unit, usually with wet bulb temperature across the top and dry bulb along the side. The target superheat is displayed where the two intersect. After you've determined the target superheat, you need to determine what the superheat actually is. To determine the actual superheat, you need only two more numbers: The boiling point (saturation point) of the refrigerant in the evaporator (at that pressure), and the suction line temperature. The boiling point is easy. "The technician can measure the pressure at the condensing unit suction port with a pressure gauge, and in most cases read the boiling point right on the gauge," notes Rob Featherstone, HVAC instructor at Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills, MI. "If the boiling point for the refrigerant you're working with isn't on the gauge, you can look it up on a pressure temperature chart." To determine the temperature of the refrigerant in the suction line pipe, all you need to do is measure the temperature of the pipe itself within 6-in. of the suction valve. When you know the boiling point and the suction line temperature, subtract the boiling point located on the gauge or chart from the suction line temperature to get the actual superheat. This is the increase in temperature of the refrigerant gas after it has evaporated. Once you know the actual superheat and the target superheat, compare them to determine if the system is properly charged. If the actual superheat is lower than the target superheat, recover refrigerant; if it's higher, add refrigerant. Just be sure to always let the system stabilize, and check again after adding or subtracting refrigerant. Testing Challenges Unfortunately, as many technicians can attest, it sounds a lot easier than it is. The problem is the three temperature measurements. They're not as easy to take as it would seem. For example, while outdoor dry bulb is the most obvious and easiest super-heat measurement to take, temperatures can vary considerably in the area around the condenser. "We used to use an analog thermometer in class," says Featherstone. "But it took too long to get the right reading and it was a chore to hold it in position. We started using a stick meter with a K-type thermocouple and got the job done faster and more accurately."

With some K-type thermocouple thermometers, there is a temperature reference junction inside the meter (the "cold junction") that is monitored by a thermometer inside the meter. Both the reference junction and the thermometer need to be at the same temperature to ensure an accurate reading. Some meters employ an adapter, with the reference junction in the adapter, not in the meter, and not thermally close to the thermometer inside the meter. Any difference in temperature between the external reference junction in the adapter and the internal thermometer inside the meter will show up as an error. By simply holding this adapter in your hand, you can alter the reading that the multimeter displays. And be aware that if you take a warm adapter from your pocket and put it in a cold meter from the truck, it will be several minutes before you can get an accurate reading. Indoor wet bulb temperature measurement also presents a problem. Technical articles, manuals, and educational texts suggest technicians use such things as moistened toilet tissue and paper napkins wrapped around the bead. This nuisance factor is one of the reasons some techs take a short cut here, and simply assume a relative humidity of 50%. To make it easier to take wet bulb temperatures, there are K-type thermocouples available with a "sock" attached and alligator clip for attaching to grids and coils. These function with any Ktype thermometer. Some manufacturers also offer test heads that fit onto stick meters and dataloggers, that display both temperature and wet bulb temperature. These self-contained units measure relative humidity, temperature, and dew point with no moistening, no sock, and no external sensor. The last measurement presents an even bigger source for potential errors. The suction line temperature often can't be measured with a simple pocket thermometer because the thermal contact with the pipe is not good enough and the thermal contact with the ambient environment is too good. The resulting temperature would be somewhere between the pipe temperature and the air surrounding it. The trick is to find a way to measure only the pipe temperature. One way involves using a standard beaded thermocouple, and pushing it under the pipe insulation. Unfortunately, this only works if the insulation is dry and fits tightly. Some thermocouples feature about an inch of insulation cut back from the bead. This allows you to wrap the whole inch of bare wire around the pipe and isolate it from the environment with a Velcro strip. Other thermocouples clamp directly to the pipe and seal out ambient air. The newest solution to this challenge is an accessory head for thermocouples that measures both suction line pressure and suction line temperature simultaneously. It converts the pressure measurement to boiling point, subtracts it from the suction line temperature, and displays the actual superheat. This eliminates the need for reference charts and math. By keeping in mind the pitfalls involved in dry bulb, wet bulb, and suction line measurements and by having the best tools available to get accurate results, you can easily determine the appropriate refrigerant charge for an air conditioning system, thereby assuring optimal operation and preventing serious damage to compressors. Adolfo Wirtz is a senior research specialist for Fieldpiece Instruments, Brea, CA, a manufacturer of measuring instruments for the HVACR industry. Wirtz can be reached at 714/257-9060. The ordered procedure that must be followed to achieve an optimally charged efficient operating air conditioner. Do not leave out any of the steps and always do these procedures in the order illustrated.

First, Check to see that there are NO air leaks in the Supply and Return Air duct system. Next, Check to see if Indoor Squirrel Cage Blower wheel blades are free of lint or other buildup & Filter. Check for a dirty lint clogged Evaporator Coil fins then check the Condenser Coil fins, check both coils on the air entering sides as well as between the fins, -- clean if needed. Take a look at the ductwork for proper sizing and for leaks, check the indoor CFM Airflow, then outdoor condenser discharge air Temperature split (delta-T), then indoor Delta-T, then after 15 minutes of run time before any charging adjustments are made. Check the Superheat & the Sub-Cooling as outlined below and always compare to the charging instructions that are with the equipment as some use the Approach Method & other methods may vary the operating figures & Target figures somewhat from SH & SC methods! Those varied methods will usually be close to Super-Heat (SH) & Sub-Cooling (SC) results. I would always use the SH & SC method in conjunction with the mfg'ers method to trouble shoot the refrigerant system. Let's say with a TXV according to the Target Super Heat chart & your collected data indicates a starved evaporator coil & a normal or slightly elevated Subcooling, even if you are using a Mfg'ers Approach Method do NOT automatically believe that it is undercharged. One company is reportedly having problems with TXVs starving E-Coils, or it could be a partially plugged TXV strainer/screen or other restriction. Optimize Evaporator BTU/hr Heat Input 1st always - "Optimize evaporator airflow heatload." To Determine Super Heat (SH): 1. Take the Suction Saturation Temperature (SST) reading from your manifold gauge. 2. Then take the Suction Line Temperature (SLT) as close to the condensing section just before the serve valve. 3. Take the difference between the above readings (Suction Line Temp 'minus' Gauge Saturation temp reading) = Superheat 4. When ambient air temperature (Outside air temperature) is 85 degrees or above the Superheat should be 8-12 degrees. Thermostatic Expansion Valves (TEV / TXV) should be set for a minimum 8-F Degrees Superheat. Some Heat Pumps with TXV's are set at 7 to 9-F Super Heat because they have Suction Line Accumulators to store any spill-over liquid, which protects the compressor. Superheat should be checked as close to the inlet of the evaporator refrigerant metering device as possible. For TXV Subcooling, take the pressure of the liquid line note the gauge saturation

temperature. Compare it to the actual temperature obtained near the same point the pressure was obtained. Thermostatic Expansion Valves (TEV / TXV) should be set for a minimum 10Degrees Superheat. This linked page is strictly a SUPERHEAT TABLE Print these Tables & use them! Print this Two linked pdf pages: Target Super Heat Chart and this Target Temperature Split for Airflow Chart Here is a formula for getting the Super Heat Target - Within normal perimeters: ((IWB) Indoor Wet Bulb X's 3 - 80 - (OAT) Outdoor Ambient Temp) / divided by 2 = Superheat Target 5. If Superheat is low then the evaporator is flooding. Note: Do NOT adjust charge YET. 6. If Superheat is high then the evaporator is starving. Note: Do NOT adjust charge YET! 7. Do not adjust charge UNTIL Sub-Cooling is checked. Note: When charging a system using Superheat, you are charging the unit to the amount of air (CFM) and total heat load that is crossing the evaporator coil (Thus, the amount of latent and sensible heat load being absorbed by the evaporator coil). Note: Do not adjust charge based on Superheat on systems with Thermal Expansion Valves (TXV, TEV's), (use Liquid Line Sub-Cooling. TEVs control the superheat; you should check the superheat to see if the TEV is working properly. Thermostatic Expansion Valves (TEV / TXV) should be set for a minimum 8-Degrees Superheat. To Determine Liquid Line Sub-Cooling (SC): 1. Take the high side pressure and convert it to temperature using chart or gauge. 2. Then take the temperature of the liquid line as close to the condenser as possible.. 3. Take the difference between the above readings. (Saturation Temp Liquid Line Temp.). Note: liquid line temperature at the evaporator should be within 2 degrees of liquid line temperature at condensing unit. If not, could be a restriction or line set too long. 4. Sub-Cooling with a TXV, should be around 9 to 15-F degrees, always check with the mfgers for correct SC 5. Then using the information from Superheat and Sub-Cooling we can have some idea where to look for a problem. Example: Suction Line Temp is ------- 60 degrees @ condenser Gauge Suction Pressure is ------76-psig ---- 45 degrees, Read Gauge Suction Saturation Temperature (SST) 60 degrees 45 degrees = 15 degree Superheat - Adjust charge to the mfg'ers Super Heat settings Liquid Pressure is ------------226-psig --------110 degrees, Read Gauge - Liquid Saturation

Temperature (LST) Liquid Line Temp (LLT) is -------------95 degrees 110 degrees 95 degrees = 15 degree Sub-Cooling - Adjust Refrigerant charge to the mfg'ers SC settings ====================================================== It is important to understand that "equipment ratings are only the 'potential efficiency' of that component of the system under perfect conditions." Over half of the systems efficiency depends on correct equipment sizing run-time, on the duct system sizing, i.e., on the quality of the complete field-installation! Especially if your system is oversized or there are a lot of low AC load days use an adjustable differential room TH. TH Differential: Differential is defined as the difference between the cut-in and cut-out points as measured at the thermostat under specified operating conditions. For example, if the thermostat turns the COOLING EQUIPMENT on at 78-F & OFF at 76-F that is a 2 degree differential setting; one has a 4-F adjustable differential. This is a good way to control high humidity problems & also improve SEER performance.

What you want & need is right sized equipment operating at its optimal ratings within varying conditions, for your optimal comfort and savings. ==================================================== TROUBLE SHOOTING TXV VALVE SYSTEMS Bulb location: Some Mfgs have there preferences, but a good rule of thumb is 10 or 2 OClock, away from headers and heat exchangers, on a smooth clean surface. Also, make sure the cap tube is on top (horizontal or vertical and never upside down). Pressure drop: TXVs like to have at least 100-psi pressure drop across them to operate correctly. A solid column of liquid (at the valve) is also a requirement. Flood back: Always make sure you have "the correct CFM airflow" (clean coils," Clean fan blades & fans running on correct speeds and in the right direction) before you try adjusting a valve. No flow: A plugged screen is rare in air conditioning, but happens often in refrigeration. I have seen the external equalizer tube leak through in liquid form and give the bulb a false reading (which causes hunting more so than no flow). ------------------------------TXV Partially plugged, downstream from service port, filter-dryer or screen at Compressor Inlet, therefore TXV is Wide Open flashing some vapor & cooling coil is starved of liquid refrigerant:

LennoxTXVSubcooling- ApproachMethod- pdf P- 8


http://www.davelennox.com/pdfs/installation_maintenance/Lennox12ACBIOM.pdf

Always check both SH & SC for trouble shooting comparison to normal parameters! --------------------There is a concern that we need more accurate means to achieve an accurate target subcooling temperature under varying conditions. First, before any operating performance feedback data is recorded, the following tests & corrections must be performed. We need to make certain that the airflow is checked to be within the proper parameters and that the ductwork is properly sized and sealed with return air grilles in every room at the ceiling level. In addition, if possible for the cooling mode, Supply Air Diffusers should also be at the ceiling level. Accurate tests should also be made, to determine whether proper airflow CFM is being delivered, as well as into each room. The manufacturers could be of great help in this respect, if they would list the Delta-T of the condensing unit at different BTUH load output levels, also at various outdoor ambient temperatures. . I believe that with adequate test data feedback the subcooling could be targeted within plus or minus 1 or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be a two to four degree differential. That would be more accurate & concise a temperature target than present subcooling temperature targeting methodologies. Additionally, I would consider using the LennoxApproachMethodto help select the Subcooling Method. The Lennox Approach Method subtracts the Outdoor Ambient Temperature from the Liquid Line Temperature (LLT), whereas, the subcooling temperature targeting method subtracts the Liquid Line Temperature near the evaporator from the Condenser Saturation Temperature (CST). I do not see why the Lennox Approach Method would not help pinpoint the subcooling target on other systems. The Indoor Heatload has to be part of the equation; there are other factors to incorporate as well.

Possible Diagnosis using Super-Heat and Sub-Cooling: If Superheat is high and Sub-Cooling is low: Charge must be adjusted. System is Undercharged. If superheat is low and sub-cooling is high: Charge must be adjusted. System is Overcharged. If Superheat is very high and Sub-Cooling is a little high: Could have blockage in coil, TXV strainer screen - settings, etc., orifice, filter dryers etc.

If Super-Heat is low and Sub-Cooling is low: Piston orifice could be too big, or some, in backwards, there is no orifice in the unit or the orifice is stuck and refrigerant is bypassing it.
To Determine Delta T (Td) (Temperature difference across the coil): 1. While unit is running take the temperature of the air in the supply plenum near the coil (approx. 12 inches.) 2. Then, while the unit is still running, take the temperature of the air in the return plenum near the unit. 3. Then take the difference between the above readings. 4. Should be around 15-18 degrees. UselinkedChart above ! 5. If to low then coil might not be seated in pan correctly - air bypassing cooling coil. (Assuming superheat and Sub-Cooling are OK.) 6. A TXV'snormalSuperheatsettingis between8-F to 12-F. Theremustbe a full liquidstreamto the TXV! Witha TXVmeteringdevice if Superheat is too high say, 20-F or above look for, suction line restriction, plugged cap tube/orifice./liquid line, hot gas discharge line restriction, filter dyer, downstream of suction service port, or compressor screen restriction or inefficient compressor. ------What are the proper methods to determine operating superheat, sub-cooling? Superheat at the evaporator should be checked as close to the end of the coil as possible (preferably near the expansion valve thermal bulb). Convert this to saturation temperature and compare it to the actual temperature obtained near the thermal bulb. Take the suction pressure at the service valve and convert it to saturation temperature. Compare this to the actual temperature obtained approximately six inches out on the suction line. Subcoolingshould be checked as close to the condenser as possible & then as close to the TXV as possible noting the difference. ============ Carl Bergt, Principle Engineer at Rheem writes: Mr. Wolok: Your inquiry concerning subcooling as been forwarded to me. From the information that has been provided to me, it appears that you are searching for a recommended subcooling level for residential products. As you can tell from the variety of responses you have received, subcooling, at the outdoor condensing unit cannot be clearly defined. Simply, subcooling is a function of many factors that includes; the outdoor unit, line size between the outdoor condenser and indoor coil, total refrigerant line lengths, number of bends in the refrigerant lines, refrigerant utilized, ambient, vertical separation between the outdoor and indoor components, and flow control. To my knowledge, all split residential products require subcooling at the outdoor unit. This includes systems that utilize TXV, capillary tube, or fixed orifice indoor flow controls. If you are looking for a simple solution, I would suggest you measurethe subcoolinglevel at the indoor coil beforethe expansiondevice. Assure you haveat least 4-6 degF subcoolingand you shouldfind properoperationfor any giveninstallation. This assumes that you will measure subcooling at

ambients or operating conditions that are somewhat close to your normal operating conditions and your refrigerant line sizes and lengths are within the manufacturer's recommendations. Measuringsubcoolingat the indoorcoil takesinto accountmanyof the variablesnotedabove. The ultimate goal is to assureyou haveliquidrefrigerantat the expansiondeviceusingreasonable subcoolinglevelsthat allowfor efficientunit operation. What you will discover is that the subcooling at the outdoor unit will vary depending on the installation and application. If subcooling is measured at the outdoor unit, you will have to account for the variables noted earlier to determine the correct level. -----------------------

My response to an HVAC Forum question on BTU & Tonnage Ratings:


Three ton is 36,000 BTUs. The units are Rated in Nominal Tons per hour. However, the nominal BTU/hr rating of some range from 36,000 down to around 34,000BTU/hr. Additionally, with high indoor temperatures & very high humidity a nominal 36,000-BTU/hr could go considerably higher. Example, Goodman Expanded Data: a 3-ton condenser 13-SEER GSC130363A, with a 4-ton evaporator coil: 1434-cfm or 478-cfm per ton of cooling 85 OAT Outdoor Ambient Temp 80 IDB Indoor Dry Bulb 71 IWB Indoor Wet Bulb or 63% Relative Humidity Nominal BTU/hr of 39,500 At 75 OAT outdoor Ambient Temp other figures the same, nominal listed @ 40,500-BTU/hr. (At ARI Conditions) Moderate outdoor temps coupled with high indoor temps results in a high latent humidity heatload through the evaporator coil which boils refrigerant at its fastest rate, which transfers more heat outdoors per unit of time. - udarrell -----That is why we should NOT be upsizing equipment for latent heat removal; because the A/C system increases its latent capacity to handle that load. When the unit is upsized the run-time operating-cycles can be way too short for effective latent heat (humidity) removal. --------------------------------------Gurglingsoundsat TEV: Low evaporator heat-loads lead to reduced liquid line mass and increased evaporator mass could be due to airflow problems. Eliminate low evaporator heatloads before looking into adjusting the refrigerant charge. Gurgling- pulsationnoisesin LiquidLine at the expansiondevicecan be causedby low evaporatorcircuit heat-loads,low charge,and/ornoncondensiblesand moisturein the system . Unbalanced airflow through the various distributor circuits of the evaporator coil will cause the TEV to close down refrigerant flow starving the coil. Piston-flow-rators will make it impossible to properly charge the system and cooling will be

greatly compromised unless you eliminate the cause! "Put your ear on the liquid line at the evaporator coil." On every Rheem condenser cover it lists "non-condensibles and or moisture" as causes for a gurgling or pulsating noise at the expansion device. The entire evaporator circuits, may not become active for various reasons, - "the entire coil must become fully active for efficient performance." The purpose of these recommendations is to provide liquid refrigerant at the expansion device and provide efficient operation. Hopefully, this will aid your research. If I can be of additional assistance, contact me. ----------------------------------------------------------Too many do not properly purge & evacuate contaminatedcentral air conditioning systems. The TripleEvacuationMethodis normallydoneon refrigerationsystems,R-410asystemsrequireit on centralair conditioningsystems: First, remove any valve cores with a special valve core remover this will speed up the evacuation time. Back service valves two turns off their back seat. 1) Re-claim unit charge (Recover all the refrigerant) 2) Charge system to 150 PSIG with dry nitrogen and leak test 3) On contaminated systems replace the filter dryers. Then Repair all leak(s) 4) Evacuate system to 500 microns valve off & see if it holds 500 microns for ten minutes, if it holds, break the vacuum with dry nitrogen 5) Evacuate system to a deeper 400 microns, valve off vac pump, & again break the vacuum with dry nitrogen 6) Evacuate system to 400 microns and & then Check to see if it holds. (Recharge with fresh clean refrigerant) 7) Check to see if the Supply and Return air ducts were correctly sized & sealed by the original installer. If a vacuum pump will not evacuate a system below 1500 microns there is a problem with the pump itself, a leak in the system, or moisture in the system. Moisture is most likely because watervaporizesat 1500microns. Many HVAC contractors will consider this excessive time & effort for contaminatedresidential air conditioning systems, however it is a must for low temp applications. The micron is a metric unit of measure for distance. The micron is a unit of linear measure;

one micron equals 1/25,400ths of an inch. Modern high capacity vacuum pumps help speed up the evacuation process. When a system has been evacuated below 500 microns, the pump is valved-off with the micron gauge connected, if the vacuum rises to 1500 microns and stops, there is moisture remaining in the system. If it rises above 1500 microns & continues to rise there is a leak. You should allow at least 15 minutes after the pump has been shut off an accurate micron gauge reading. When a system will not evacuate below 1500 microns there is either a lot of water or there is a system leak. =============================================================== CheckReturnAir (RA) at grille & at entryof blowerfor heat gain, dueto hot ReturnAir leaks. Whereairhandlers'set over ReturnAir Chamberscheckfor air leaksthroughthe sheetrock& downthe wall studsfrom the attic - this is a fairly commonconditionthat will overloadthe AC system! Belowis an outstandingPDF"BasicACOverview- SpecificationsVS. Reality" by JohnProctor,P.E., ProctorEngineeringGroup,LTD: HVACTECHPERFORMANCERATINGS "ACSpecsvs Reality"PDF- It's WorthYourTime

EFFICIENTINDOORCOMFORT - An EXCELLENTSITE for You


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Thereare a multiplicityof thingsthat affectsubcooling,first, airflowmustbe correct;SupplyAir ReturnAir sealed& correctlysized! I would also add that we need effective ways to determine the BTUH that the system is delivering while we are recording superheat & subcooling temperature data. We need helpful condenser-temperature-split performance data from from all of the mfg'ers to make this operating BTUH data more accurate & easy to acquire. See my other pages for this test method. - Darrell

Studythe FailureRateGraphin the pdf above!


It is a well-known fact in the industry that a large percentage of compressors being replaced are replaced due to improper diagnosis, NOT compressor failure! Focus on Energy - EfficientHeating& CoolingInitiative - Target Temperature Split for Airflow PRINT Charts On above linked page scroll down and Click - AirflowandRefrigerantTables- the Super Heat Table does NOT comport with other methods! - ac-trouble-shooting-chart.html NEW! I'm finally posting these two pages I created long ago

TXVTHERMOSTATICEXPANSIONVALVEAPPLICATIONS - Important Info

The Air Side of Air Conditioning - Static Pressure

AIR-CONDITIONERRUNNINGTOOMUCH 3.5-ton matchedAC systemgettingonly 1.25-ton of capacity!Lowcharge- plus Link below,3.5-ton to less than1.5-ton, too! - WayOvercharged

D:\data\jacksbd\ Desktop\Lennox-12ACB-IOM.pdf

The high side pressure will be somewhere between 175 to 325 pounds on a refrigerant22 system. Usually, the lower the operating range of the high side, the more efficient is the unit. This assumes, of course, the compressor is operating well and the condenser coil is clean. You will only be able to determine the NORMAL pressure by measuring the temperatures and comparing them. SUBCOOLING is the calculation that is the determinant of a correctly operating high side of the system. To understand Subcooling, imagine a system empty or nearly empty of refrigerant. As you put refrigerant into the system, once the liquid line temperature becomes higher than your hand, you will feel it slowly rising as the pressure on the gauge continues to rise. It will continue rising and may even feel very hot, but at some point near a correct charge of refrigerant, it will simply STOP RISING even though you continue to add more refrigerant and the pressure continues to go up. In fact, as you do so, it will actually start decreasing. THIS COOLING OFF BELOW THE GAUGE TEMPERATURE CONVERSION IS SUBCOOLING. At this point you can know that the liquid line you are measuring will have a full flow of LIQUID REFRIGERANT in it rather than gas and bubbles. This is a necessary state so the flow control device in the evaporator (TXV or capillary tubes) can have a full flow at its design point. Thermostatic Expansion valves will work perfectly at a full liquid supply to it at very low pressures, but capillary tubes are dependent not only on a full liquid flow but also the pressure of that flowing refrigerant. So the subcooling may go quite a bit higher on capillary or flowrestriction devices than it will on the TXV. The amount of subcooling for TXV systems may range between 10 and 15F. and this is perfect for the successful flow of liquid at the TXV and it should function perfectly unless you have extra long refrigerant lines leading to the evaporator or it is extremely high in elevation above the condenser. Every fully charged system will have subcooling. Capillary tube systems may have 15 to 30F subcooling when they are working right. Remember they are also dependent on the pressure of the refrigerant to "force" the liquid through a restrictor. Determine the correct refrigerant charge on them by relying more on the Superheat once you are in-range with the Subcooling. If you are this close, you are within the "ball park". That's where I want you to be. Just close, not perfect. Your experienced technician will make it perfect when he looks at it later. Just the way you checked the SUPERHEAT, you will check the SUBCOOLING. It is only a little different. The liquid line is the one coming from the condenser coils and goes inside to the evaporator coil. DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR THE HOT GAS LINE THAT COMES OUT OF THE COMPRESSOR AND GOES TO THE CONDENSER COILS. The hot gas line is HOT! Look at the temperature for the refrigerant type you have on the high side gauge at this operating pressure. Measure the surface temperature of the LIQUID LINE (the small one coming from the condenser) and subtract it from the gauge temperature. THIS IS SUBCOOLING. The refrigerant is cooled below the normal saturation temperature. If you have 280 pounds on the gauge it shows you that this is equal to 125F. for refrigerant 22 and you measure the line temperature carefully and it is just 108F. you have a difference of 17F. This is the subcooling of the refrigerant inside the condenser at this moment.

Pressure and Temperature Symptoms Chart:

Symptoms Exhibited *
Suction Pressure Discharge Pressure Super Heat Sub Cooling Lower Lower Than Lower Than Than Normal Normal Normal Higher Lower Than Lower Than Than Normal Normal Normal Higher Lower Than Lower Than Than Normal Normal Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Higher Than Normal Normal Lower Higher Than Than Normal Normal Lower Higher Than Than Normal Normal Lower Higher Than Than Normal Normal Lower Lower Than Than Normal Normal May Be Either Lower Than Lower or Normal Higher Than Normal

Condition Solutions

Lower than Insufficient air flow across Evaporator coil. Check filter, blower speed Normal tap selected, blower motor, wheel, and capacitor. Lower Than Normal Higher Than Normal Higher Than Normal Lower Than Normal Higher Than Normal May Be Either Lower or Higher Than Normal Lower Than Normal May Be Either Lower or Higher Than Normal Insufficient refrigerant charge. Check system for leak(s). Recover refrigerant, repair leak(s), evacuate system to 500 microns, and recharge with refrigerant. Restriction in refrigerant circuit. Look for significant temperature difference at point of restriction. Possible incorrect orifice pin (too small) or

TXV stuck closed.

Excessive loading of Evaporator coil. Due to excessive air flow across coil or open return duct in unconditioned space. Check blower speed tap setting (too high) and return duct for leakage. Insufficient air flow across Condenser coil. Check cleanliness of coil. Check condenser fan motor, blade, and capacitor. Excessive refrigerant charge. Recover refrigerant from system and recharge with refrigerant, or adjust charge using Superheat or Subcooling method.

Air and/or Non-condensables in system. Recover refrigerant from system, evacuate system to 500 microns, and re-charge.

Incorrect/over feeding Metering device. Check for proper pin size or loose

TXV sensing bulb, or TXV stuck open.

Defective valves in compressor (I.E. runs but doesn't pump), abnormally low Amp draw and abnormally high compressor temperature may be indicated.

* "Normal" refers to Pressures, Temperatures, and/or values obtained at rated air flow under a given set of conditions and assumes that no changes have been made to factory refrigerant charge. Check the Tech. Service Data Sheet for the specific model you are servicing to obtain this information. Charging by weight is accomplished using the quantity of refrigerant indicated on the Tech. Service Data Sheet and/or Unit Rating Plate.

1. Subcooling for TXV systems may range between 10 and 15F => Measure the surface temperature of the LIQUID LINE and subtract it from the gauge temperature. On a TXV system that is starved (undercharged), the superheat will go up above the range. Capillary tube systems may have 15 to 30F subcooling. a. If you have 280 pounds on the gauge it shows you that this is equal to 125F. for refrigerant 22 and you measure the line temperature carefully and it is just 108F. you have a difference of 17F. This is the subcooling of the refrigerant inside the condenser at this moment. b. With a TXV metering device if Superheat is too high say, 20-F or above look for, suction line restriction, plugged cap tube/orifice./liquid line, hot gas discharge line restriction, filter dyer, downstream of suction service port, or compressor screen restriction or inefficient compressor. 2. The target superheat. To do this, take the outdoor air temperature from the air that is going into the condenser coil. Then, determine the wet bulb temperature from in front of the indoor return grille, or better yet, just in front of the evaporator coil. The actual superheat, you need only two more numbers: The boiling point (saturation point) of the refrigerant in the evaporator (at that pressure), and the suction line temperature. Subtract the boiling point located on the gauge or chart from the suction line temperature to get the actual superheat. a. Suction Line Temp is 60 degrees @ condenser, Gauge Suction Pressure is 76 psig -> 45 degrees, 60 degrees 45 degrees = 15 degree Superheat - Adjust charge to the mfg'ers Super Heat settings b. When ambient air temperature (Outside air temperature) is 85 degrees or above the Superheat should be 8-12 degrees. Thermostatic Expansion Valves (TEV / TXV) should be set for a minimum 8-F Degrees Superheat. Some Heat Pumps with TXV's are set at 7 to 9-F Super Heat because they have Suction Line Accumulators to store any spill-over liquid, which protects the compressor.