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Old 07-08-2013, 10:39 AM   #1
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Dometic Heat Pump with a leak, fixable?

The Dometic Heat Pump on my 1998 Excella quit, and after popping the top I found one of the capillary tubes was rubbing against the output of the compressor and rubbed a hole in the capillary pipe.

I know most people just throw the units away and buy a new one, but I'm cheap and would rather repair and try to get a few more years out of it.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this type of leak? I would assume I need to find a larger tube and just make a patch? Then install a tap on the low side and add some R-22, simple!

Damon
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:42 AM   #2
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You could try to silver solder it. How skilled are you with silver solder?
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damonbeals View Post
The Dometic Heat Pump on my 1998 Excella quit, and after popping the top I found one of the capillary tubes was rubbing against the output of the compressor and rubbed a hole in the capillary pipe.

I know most people just throw the units away and buy a new one, but I'm cheap and would rather repair and try to get a few more years out of it.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this type of leak? I would assume I need to find a larger tube and just make a patch? Then install a tap on the low side and add some R-22, simple!

Damon
#4827
Cut out the hole altogether, and insert a new piece of same-size tube with appropriate fittings on the end. If you're installing a tap you're going to have to cut the tube anyway to do it, so it's hardly any extra work, even.

Should be easier and more certain than brazing on a patch that could either leak or clog the tube if done wrong.
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Old 07-08-2013, 12:09 PM   #4
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Unless you are a pretty good refrigeration mechanic with tools and skills to repair the very small tube (which has a critical diameter and length) as well as adding a port to evacuate and charge the system, and the vacuum pump and charging equipment and a way to add just the right charge this is not a do it yourself repair. In addition, the tube appears to be attached to a second tube, part of the superheat design of the unit.

To have it professionally done would probably be over half the cost of a new unit, and it still would need to be removed and replaced for the repair.

Sorry for the bad news.
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Old 07-08-2013, 12:52 PM   #5
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Not to pile on.....but........

That is one of your capillary tubes that are responsible for proper metering of the refrigerant as it goes into the evaporator. You can't 'just fix' a cap tube. It must be replaced from one end to the other.

As stated above, the process goes like this:

• use 2 piercing valves, one for low side and one for high side and evacuate whatever is left of any refrigerant into a proper container per federal regulations with a vacuum pump.

• do your tubing replacement

• remove the piercing valves and solder in 2 permanent Schrader valves. Again, one for the high side and one for the low side

• pressure test the system with nitrogen to be sure you have no leaks.

• purge nitrogen and re-charge the system with the proper amounts of applicable refrigerant and compressor lubricating oil per the specifications on the A/C data plate. Observe the parameters for BOTH sides of the cooling circuit.

• fire up the unit for a test.

• IF you are successful, you still have an old, repaired unit that was never meant to be repaired in this manner. How long do you expect the rest of the unit to last?

If you are not a licensed refrigeration mechanic, I doubt that you will be able to acquire a sufficient amount of refrigerant (probably R-22) to do the job. Any competent A/C tech should be able to do a job like this.....but at what cost?

I think you will find that after you add up all the expenses, you will find that a new A/C unit with a warranty will serve you better.
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:31 AM   #6
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An update on my heatpump. I found a local heat and air company who had also done several RV A/C repairs. (and recommend by a good friend) They where able to patch the hole in the capillary tube, they charged the system with Nitrogen and checked for leaks, then used a vacuum pump to remove any moisture. Installed a line tap, added 24oz of R-22. Unit is working great and just as cold as it was before the leak.

Yes, I don't know how long the unit will last!

Lessons learned, when you do your annual maintenance, remove the A/C cover and look for pipes that are rubbing, and clean out the coils if dirty, and remove the wasp nest.

I know repair isn't recommend, but I had to try and I will update when or if the unit fails again. I predict the failures will be the line tap will develop a leak, the patch fails or the compressor finally fails.

And for those curious about the cost, the repair was less then $200! For fun I called Airstream and was quoted $2100 for a new unit installed!

Damon
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:06 AM   #7
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Glad you found someone who would work on it, and do a good repair. Those shops are few and far between these days. Lets hope it holds up over time.
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