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Your Air conditioning pipe (ac hose) worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Simple, though under high strain: the air conditioner line
The air conditioner line is the piping for the refrigerant in an air conditioning system, basically prefabricated aluminium tubing. The air conditioner line has to withstand high pressure as well as temperature changes in an engine. A particular challenge for the air conditioner line is the vibration in the engine compartment. Most failures occur as a result of shaking and vibrating diesel engines. The air conditioner line is one of those air conditioner components a DIY'er should be able to replace. Refilling the air conditioner, however, should be done in a garage.
Compressed air heats up quickly. Reversely, it cools by expanding. This is caused by the evaporation effect which occurs when water changes from liquid into a gaseous state. Everybody getting out of a swimming pool in summer is aware of this effect: even though the outer temperature is 30°C, you cool off as the water on the skin evaporates. The liquid aggregate state of water requires two conditions: the temperature must be lower than 100 °C and the air pressure 1 bar. Both parameters can be artificially created. An air conditioner functions with a refrigerant instead of water. The refrigerant has a different boiling point. Some systems work with heat. These are the so-called absorber systems, mainly used for e.g. the soundless minibars in hotels. Cars have air conditioners with compressors, generating the desired coolness by compressing and expanding the refrigerant. The refrigerant enters the the air conditioner in a gaseous state. It is compressed in the compressor until it turns liquid. Subsequently, it turns into gas again by way of the expansion valve and the expansion tank. This is the moment where coolness is generated, which is then directed into the car interior by way of a heat exchanger and a ventilator.
The air conditioner line connects the separate stations of the air conditioner. It consists of aluminium piping moulds. Aluminium has the advantage of being unsusceptible to corrosion and offers a certain flexibility. Still, bending the air conditioner lines should be avoided as much as possible and certainly never kinked.
Air conditioner line defects
The most common defect of an air conditioner pipe is bursting by vibration. In most cases this is caused by faulty installation. When an air conditioner is installed under tension, it can burst. A crack usually occurs at the connection points where tensions are highest. A defect causes complete failure of the air conditioner, sometimes noticed as a hissing noise and a bad smell. The pressurised air conditioner is leaking and the refrigerant escapes through the crack.
Once the refrigerant has escaped from the air conditioner, repair is relatively easy. The old piping is unscrewed at both connection points and a new component is installed with gaskets. Subsequently, the air conditioning system has to be cleaned, fully drained and re-filled. A garage should be consulted for this at all times. DIY filling of the air conditioner is not recommended due to the expensive and aggressive refrigerant. Furthermore, unqualified handling of refrigerant is a misdemeanour which can cause a fine of several hundreds of pounds. You are always on the safe side by visiting a garage.
Costs for an air conditioner line
The price of a new air conditioner line starts ca. 35 EUR (± £31). Installation can be somewhat complicated, depending on the accessibility of the connections. Often, several minor components in the engine must be removed to access the air conditioner line. This takes some time, though an experienced DIY'er can save himself the high garage fee. It is important to use branded articles from the professional retailer at all times. A defective air conditioner line causes additional costs as the air conditioner needs refilling every time. This can be prevented by exclusively using top quality spare parts for the repair of the air conditioner.