The Comfortech Conference and Show in Philadelphia has come and gone. From a contractor’s perspective, it was a great convention filled with excellent seminars and a two-day trade show where contractors, engineers, and trade school students had unfettered access to manufacturers’ products and representatives.
During the convention, I had many opportunities to video-interview several dynamic presenters and manufacturers that were exhibiting new and innovative products, which will shortly be available for viewing. As always is the case with conventions/trade shows, opportunities to make new old friends presented themselves — like a chance meeting Patrick MacKenzie with ServiceTitan over beers later in the evening. It didn’t take long to discover we share a common bond: our Irish ancestors lived in County Cork, Ireland. You’ll get to meet Patrick in one of our videos.
Professor Steven Phyillaier, HVAC instructor with the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology brought his students to the convention. Mark Howie, HVACR instructor with the Glouchester County Institute of Technology brought his students as well and what a treat to talk with both Steven and Mark while learning about their students’ progression.
Another attendee who stands out in memory was Lawrence G. Spielvogel, P.E. who is a consulting engineer from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. It’s always a pleasure to get together for a lively chat with an engineer who respects folks in the trades and to share some war stories.
One item leaped off the pages of the Comfortech trade show brochure: the Parker ZoomLock press fittings for refrigerant lines. Dana George with Sporlan was manning the booth and graciously donated time to walk me through the line of fittings and demonstrated the pressing process. Let’s just state for the record that we will be adding this to our tool-bag because time equals money and this reduces labor costs by up to 70% versus brazing.
Using ZoomLock press fittings eliminates the need for a burn permit or having to pay your techs to stand around on fire watch long after the work has been completed. Not to mention setting off uber-sensitive fire alarm/smoke detector systems that result in a visit from the entire fire department — don’t ask me why I know about that!
Tubing preparation doesn’t differ much from the normal brazing process. You cut the tubing square with a cutter and not a hack saw; use a deburring tool for the inside and outside edges of the tubing and always, always, make sure the copper shavings cannot fall into the tubing; use a Scotch-Brite pad to clean the outside of the tubing and — here’s where this differs from brazing — check for longitudinal scratches that could potentially allow Freon to escape past the O-ring seal. If present, use Emory cloth to sand away scratches and then clean with the Scotch- Brite pad once more.
Insert the copper tubing into the fitting until it seats against the internal stop, or use the depth gauge, and mark the tubing with a Sharpie (or other suitable marker) so that when it comes time to press the fitting, you can see at-a-glance that your joint is fully inserted.
Place the ZoomLock jaws over the fitting. They made the fittings so that you can approach from either side and really cannot do this wrong by virtue of how the fittings rings fit the jaws, hit the trigger and a few seconds later you’re done. Quite similar to using ProPress fittings for potable water, so if you’re familiar with doing that on water lines, ZoomLock will be a natural fit.
ZoomLock fittings can be used with either hard or soft copper. They can handle -40°F to 300°F and are rated for up to 700-PSI. Burst pressure is 3,000-PSI, so there is a considerable safety factor.
They’re working with all the mini-split manufacturers currently on flare to ZoomLock fittings. Since we’re being told to cut off and toss the factory flare nuts on mini-split line sets anyway, these will be very welcomed.
Ridgid-compatible jaws will soon be available according to Dana George, which will reduce your invested cost by avoiding the need to purchase the power-side if you already have a Ridgid ProPress tool.
No need to lug around the oxyacetylene rig, process nitrogen bottle, and eliminate the burn/fire-watch permits. What’s not to like? That said, process nitrogen does speed up the three-step vacuum/purge/vacuum/purge/vacuum process to 500-microns, which ensures you are providing a contaminate-free refrigerant loop within the new or repaired system for your customers.
One more pressing need added to your arsenal of joining water (ProPress), gas, steam condensate, and black steel piping (MegaPress), and now comes ZoomLock for refrigerant lines. No more soldering, no more threading, and no more brazing. The times they be a-changing!
Dave Yates material in print and on Contractor’s Website is protected by Copyright 2016. Any reuse of this material (print or electronic) must first have the expressed written permission of Dave Yates and Contractor magazine. Please contact via e-mail at: [email protected].