TXV or Thermostatic Expansion Valve
TXV or Thermostatic Expansion Valve are used in air conditioners and heat pumps to meter refrigerant. The TXV or Thermostatic Expansion Valve is preferred over other refrigeration metering devices because it only allows a specified amount of refrigerant to flow based on demand. Any type of refrigeration metering device creates a pressure drop in the refrigerant and with a pressure drop of the refrigerant a temperature drop also occurs. This temperature is necessary to drop the refrigerant down to temperature lower than ambient temperatures inside the structure being cooled. This allows the refrigerant to absorb the heat contained in the air passing over the evaporator coil.
How the TXV or Thermostatic Expansion Valve Works
The TXV has a sensing bulb that is connected to the suction line leaving the evaporator coil. The sensing bulb is filled with a refrigerant that expands and contracts based on the temperature of the refrigerant inside the TXV or thermostatic expansion valve sensing bulb. The TXV sensing bulb is attached to the valve itself with a small copper capillary tube. Inside the valve is a bellows that moves according to how the refrigerant inside the sensing bulb reacts to the temperature. This creates a throttling effect from the expansion and contractions of the refrigerant through the capillary tube and to the bellows which moves a needle inside the valve to throttle the refrigerant. As the superheat inside the suction line changes the TXV can react to the demand. If there is less demand then the TXV will meter less refrigerant to the evaporator coil while more demand the TXV will meter more refrigerant to the evaporator coil. Now you know how a TXV works.
Common TXV Problems
Probably the most common problem with the TXV is improper installation and is the reason why it is important to find or select a good HVAC contractor. A good HVAC contractor will have knowledgeable certified technicians that know how to properly install and service HVAC equipment including the proper position of a TXV in a new or retrofit installation. The key is to always follow the manufacturers instructions when installing a TXV in a new air conditioner or heat pump installation. The same for retrofits of air conditioner and heat pump installations. Instances of finding TXV sensing bulbs not even attached to the suction line is a common problem. Another common problem with a TXV is the bulb in insufficiently insulated or not insulated at all. It is important to properly wrap the bulb and suction line where the TXV sensing bulb is attached with a good insulator recommended by the manufacturer. If any of these steps are not followed the TXV will not function properly and the air conditioner or heat pump will not realize the rated efficiency levels of the equipment. Despite what is written or illustrated here it is always recommended to follow the manufacturers installation instructions.
Additionally operational problems can occur when improper practices are used when installing or retrofitting a new HVAC system and one of the biggest is foreign debris inside the refrigeration circuit that migrates to the TXV and plugs it or causes the TXV to work improperly. Using proper brazing techniques (always use nitrogen to prevent oxidation) and avoid any type of work that would causes metal shavings to get into the refrigeration circuit such as cutting the copper piping used in the refrigeration circuit with a saw instead of tubing cutters or drilling a hole in the copper pipe rather than using an awl to punch a hole in the pipe. Using proper refrigeration system evacuation techniques is also recommended to keep the system clean and free of moisture is important to prevent the moisture from freezing at the TXV.