An A/C accumulator is an integral part of air-conditioning systems that are found in automobiles. The primary function of the A/C accumulator is to remove excess moisture from the air conditioning system, and also to build up and store excess refrigerant (like Freon), and help protect the compressor of the system by blocking unwanted debris.
The way we operate on our vehicles nowadays is pretty analogous to the way we operate in our home. A simple push of a switch or a command enables us to make an immediate transition from higher to lower temperatures in our vehicles thanks to the ever changing smart air conditioning systems present in almost every vehicle. An air-conditioning unit of every vehicle consists of a number of common elements, and the A/C accumulator is just one of them. It is very important to know how the accumulator unit functions, in order to extend the lifespan of automobile air conditioning systems.
The A/C accumulator is generally located behind the evaporator, and in the legacy systems, this was being replaced by a receiver drier, being somewhat rare these days. The accumulator, besides the conventional role of removing moisture, serves a more crucial purpose in protecting the compressor of the air-conditioning systems in automobiles. As the refrigerant leaves the evaporator, some refrigerants do not properly evaporate, and stays in the liquid form. The latter is very harmful for the compressor unit, and it is accumulator which makes sure that this does not happen. The accumulator ensures that the refrigerant is in a gaseous state when it enters the compressor unit.
Accumulators are generally present in air-conditioning systems where there is an orifice tube to measure the refrigerants which goes into the evaporator. The accumulator is directly connected to the outlet of the evaporator, and stores the liquid refrigerants thus blocking them from going into the compressor units. Since the compressors are specifically designed to compress gas, any liquid injections can do serious irrevocable damage to it. Thus, the accumulator serves the very important purpose of isolating the compressor from liquid refrigerants, and in turn increases the lifespan of the compressor units.
The accumulators are also designed to remove excess moisture from the air conditioning system of the automobiles. Moistures are one of the most harmful elements of the automobile air conditioning systems, since it has the ability to form heavily damaging corrosive acids when mixed up with refrigerants. Much like receiver dryers, accumulators also remove unwanted debris - and help to keep the compressor away from receiving anything but pure gaseous state of the refrigerants. Like liquid refrigerants, any unwanted debris might also have high damaging effect over the compressors. The accumulators carry out the feat via desiccant, the compound which absorbs moisture. Desiccant is a typical hygroscopic substance which is renowned for its property to sustain moisture free environments. Generally, a compact package of desiccant is placed inside the accumulator, and whenever the outlet of the evaporator unleashes, excess moisture is being absorbed as it passes through the package. It should be noted that, desiccant can only sustain its moisture free property if the container is located in is moderately well-sealed.
A good practice is to replace the accumulator units periodically, or every time unwanted debris or moisture becomes a matter of concern. Generally, every time the air conditioning system is opened up for major repairs in relatively aged units; the accumulators are the first component that the mechanics will replace. However, even in the slightest doubt of an air-conditioning system not functioning according to expectations, it is a best practice to replace the accumulator unit right away. Although there are some additional overhead charges for replacing the unit, it may very well extend the lifespan of the entire air-conditioning system of the vehicle, and in that sense, actually saving money in the longer term.