I have a car with a leaky AC and had to refill it with refrigerant in order to identify the source of the leak. My luck, the evaporator core seems to be the problem and I have to drain the system before I can do the repair.

I did look into a few recovery machine sur as this one, but they are not cheap and for something I am likely to use twice in a lifetime, I was wondering if there were cheaper alternatives to it (appart from asking a mechanics to do it for me, which I am also considering :-)

So far, I have a vacuum pump, which I thought could somehow be used to recover the refrigerant.
Could I maybe hook it up to a Vacuum chamber, with a filter in between so that the refrigerant is decontaminated and can then be reinjected into the system once fixed?
Not sure these Vacuum chambers are made for such things though.

  • Get it done with the proper equipment. You have been given this advice in the comments to this answer: mechanics.stackexchange.com/a/76817/10976
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 26, 2020 at 7:59
  • That is not the same question! Jun 26, 2020 at 8:03
  • I did not say it is the same question, but the advice given is relevant and imho correct. You should perhaps re-read it.
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 26, 2020 at 8:04
  • I would not advise any "Rube Goldberg or Heath Robinson" method to try to evacuate the refrigerant from the system. The safety issues and consequences can be fatal. a good entry ticket for a Darwin Award. Mind you if the leak is significant then soon they will not be any refrigerant left to remove.
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 26, 2020 at 8:06
  • Thanks @SolarMike, so it sounds like I have only 2 options. Either ask a professional to drain the system for me or spend the money on equipement :-) Jun 26, 2020 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


In answer to your question, NO, you cannot use a standard vacuum pump to recover the refrigerant from an A/C system. They are not designed for this purpose and will not do what you need it to do.

A HVAC recovery system is design to pull the existing refrigerant out of your vehicle and them pump it into a receiving tank. It's essentially two pumps in one. A standard vacuum pump will not pump the extracted refrigerant into a tank.

Is there a "cheap" way of doing this? Sure, open the system and vent it into the air. But this is dangerous and in most places illegal. So no, this is NOT a good idea! DON'T DO IT! Not only that but you waste a significant amount of refrigerant that is fairly expensive.

If you lack the know-how (and that seems to be the case) and the equipment (which is clearly the case) then you should employ an licensed automotive HVAC technician to evacuate your system. After your repairs are completed take it back and have them refill the system.

That approach may cost you some money but it's likely to be much less expensive than purchasing the right equipment.

  • Thank you for very much for your answer. I will ask a mechanic to empty the system and do the work myself. I wish I could upvote your answer, sorry about that. Jul 1, 2020 at 8:45

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