Air conditioners use either a receiver dryer or an accumulator. These devices vary slightly as to function and differ as to where they are installed in the system:
- A receiver dryer is installed in the high side.
- An accumulator is installed in the low side.
A receiver dryer fills and siphons liquid refrigerant from the bottom.
An accumulator separates vapor and liquid. It pulls off vapor from the top. Courtesy of Ford Motor Company.
Some systems have a sight glass on the receiver dryer or in the high pressure liquid line so that unwanted vapor bubbles can be spotted as the system operates. This can give a quick check of whether the refrigerant level is too low. A sight glass is only found on the high pressure side of the system. Also, look for signs of leakage. If you find leaks, replace the part.
An accumulator cannot be serviced. Inspect it to see if it is defective or wet, if so, the entire unit must be replaced. Also check the expansion tube that serves as a metering device to the evaporator. If the expansion tube is clogged, it is again necessary to replace the accumulator.
If you think your accumulator or receiver dryer is defective, you'll need to perform an a/c system test.