Air Conditioning Accumulator/Receiver-Drier
Your climate control system relies on refrigerant to cool the cabin of your vehicle. To do its job properly, the refrigerant must be free of water and any liquids, and have a fully gaseous form before it goes through the air compressor. However, when the refrigerant circulates through the air conditioning system it collects some dust and particles that can react with it, forming hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acids. The latter can cause internal corrosion and create ice crystals that may block the A/C lines. To prevent such processes, air conditioning systems come with either an accumulator or a receiver-drier, both of which remove liquids from the refrigerant when it passes through them.
While both accumulators and receiver-driers serve the same purpose for a vehicle, they do that in a slightly different way. An accumulator is usually larger than a receiver-drier and is placed before the compressor, while a receiver-drier is located just after the condenser. Both of them are metal canisters with two fittings for the refrigerant to enter and come out, however, this is where all similarities end. Thus, the accumulator features a U-shaped tube inside the housing which is cut on one end and is connected to the outlet on the other end. The refrigerant that enters the inlet passes through a desiccant, which removes moisture and different particles. The liquid refrigerant falls to the bottom of the canister until it vaporizes, while the refrigerant that is already in the gaseous form leaves the accumulator through the outlet.
A receiver-drier looks similar to an accumulator, yet it is smaller in size and utilizes another technology to filter the refrigerant. It features several layers of desiccant and filtering materials that remove all particles and moisture from the refrigerant. The clean refrigerant that is in a gaseous form leaves the receiver-drier via the central pipe and flows to the evaporator.
Whether you have an accumulator or a receiver-drier, your air conditioning system cannot operate properly if it fails. An accumulator or a receiver-drier is crucial for the trouble-free long-lasting performance of your vehicle, which why you should be aware of the most common signs of a failing moisture remover:
Abnormal sounds when the A/C is operating
If you hear a rattling noise when your A/C is on, you may have damaged or loose parts inside the housing of your accumulator or receiver-drier. The other sources of the problem can be a failing compressor or a bad fitting or hose.
A leaking accumulator or receiver-drier can allow the refrigerant to escape from the system. Keep in mind that a refrigerant leak can also be caused by a loose fitting or another A/C part.
Your A/C system lost its efficiency
An accumulator or receiver-drier can get clogged as it ages, which may prevent your vents from blowing cold air.
Accumulator and receiver-drier troubleshooting
Both accumulators and receiver-driers are maintenance items that should be replaced from time to time. They are cost-effective parts, which is why their replacement is recommended each time you work on the air-conditioning system or replace the condenser or compressor. Besides, if any of them are exposed to the outside air, it must be replaced since the air causes it to lose the moisture-absorbing qualities.