Are you curious as to how your refrigeration system actually works? Do you want to know exactly what goes into a successfully-running refrigeration system? Modern-day refrigeration systems are comprised of multiple parts, some simple and others more complex, that all work together to create a fully-functioning refrigeration system. Oil migration is a key part of the basic operating of a refrigeration system because the use of a lubricant is essential in the smooth operation of the unit.

Why oil?

Oil is a very flexible lubricant in the sense that it can change in viscosity (thickness) as the temperature changes. Oil is a lubricant that can be controlled and used to provide precise lubrication for a refrigeration system’s moving parts. In the past, mineral oils were used as lubricants, but this has since been phased out with the development of modern refrigeration units that require a more easily controlled lubricating fluid.

How does it work?

In a modern refrigeration unit, oil is constantly being pumped from the compressor throughout the entire system. Oil helps to lubricate compressor bearings and other moving parts in the system. It is important to note that once oil travels through the entire refrigeration unit, it returns to the compressor, as it is vital to the proper functioning of it.

Oil is not circulating through a refrigeration system alone; refrigerant makes up a large portion of the liquid and accompanies oil as it lubricates the entire unit. Oil is in one of two forms when it leaves the compressor as part of the compressor discharge gas: fine oil droplets or mist, or liquid oil that is driven by the gas’ velocity. This gas eventually turns to liquid containing both oil and refrigerant. The liquid flows through the unit’s expansion valve and into the evaporator. Here, the refrigerant boils and does its job of giving of its refrigeration effect, but the oil does not disappear. Instead, the oil returns to the compressor via an oil return system, where it can further work to improve the functionality of the compressor as well as the rest of the unit.

What if there is no oil return system?

If a refrigeration unit is lacking an oil return system, there are a few problems that can occur. If oil is left to accumulate in the evaporator, the heat transfer in the evaporator will slowly and progressively be diminished, leading to the evaporator having difficulty boiling the refrigerant down to produce the desired refrigeration effect. Also, if oil is allowed to collect in the evaporator due to a missing oil return system, the compressor will eventually run out of oil, causing it to malfunction and shut down. The evaporator is the danger zone when it comes to oil being trapped in a refrigeration unit, and without a proper and functioning oil return system, trapped oil will definitely lead to bigger problems.

Make sure your system is up to standard

It is absolutely crucial to ensure your refrigeration unit is up to par and includes all of the necessary components, including an oil return system. Oil is vital in the proper functioning of your unit, so it is not something that should be ignored or misunderstood. Keep your oil flowing and your refrigeration unit running properly and you are sure to save a lot of time and stress in the long run.