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The expansion device is a generic
term. It can be an orifice tube, expansion valve or expansion block.
An orifice tube should always be replaced, it should never be cleaned.
An expansion valve or block is a little more difficult. They should
always be removed and inspected or replaced during a repair. A stuck
expansion device can allow too much pressure to build in a system and thus blow
out the head of the compressor.
The rule of thumb is that if you are replacing the compressor because it is
leaking or not blowing cold enough, then cleaning is acceptable. Any other
failure requires a new expansion device. If unsure, it never hurts to
change the expansion device.
Picture of AC Expansion Device, A/C
Expansion Valve and Orifice tube