ACHRNEWS

How Can Technicians Detect the Undetected?

March 20, 2000
DALLAS, TX - Have you ever spent time searching for the circuit breaker that controlled a certain electrical outlet, and inadvertently reset all digital clocks to that blinking 12:00 default?

Or, when working on a job in an office building, instead of shutting down the power to the hvac equipment, have you ever accidentally pulled the breaker that controlled many of the computers in the building?

Circuit breaker locators were seen at many booths and this points to a need for such a tool in the industry.

Generally, the basic model locator is comprised of two separate parts. The transmitter is plugged into the outlet in question, and the "receiver" is passed across the breakers or fuses until a light flashes or a sound is heard.

The Break’R Trac’R™ from Amprobe can pinpoint the exact circuit breaker or fuse that an outlet is connected to with adjustable sensitivity control on the receiver. It is UL listed and residentially rated for 120-vac circuits.

Operated on a 9-V battery, Dave Boyd, regional sales manager, said that the tool saves time for technicians and increases safety when they are trying to locate outlet connections.

UEI's CBF100 Circuit Breaker Finder operates on 90 to 400 vac and is also powered by a 9-V battery. The company's AutoSense™ technology automatically adjusts the sensitivity, allowing the user to quickly zero in on specific breakers.

Both the transmitter and receiver have power-on indicators, and the receiver emits a loud response tone to indicate that the proper breaker has been located, said Leonard Ogden, marketing and product development manager.

Poison of a silent nature

The TIF8500A carbon monoxide (CO) analyzer is a professional-grade service tool for measuring CO levels in any environment or application.

"The 8500A is a talking analyzer, with a 'voice' feature that allows the unit to actually speak out the measured reading," said Bill McDonough, hvacr sales manager for TIF Instruments Inc. "This is a great asset when working in dark or hard-to-reach areas that make the display difficult to view."

A 0- to 10,000-ppm range allows measurement in areas such as ambient, appliance surroundings, and furnace flues. A long search probe helps technicians gain access to more inaccessible areas.

The analyzer is currently available with English and Spanish capabilities and the company will soon be adding German and French, said McDonough.

The CO71 "Carbon Monoxide Detective" from UEI displays CO from 0 to 999 ppm. A tri-color LED indicates concentrations at three levels, complying with residential and workplace standards.

"The system automatically, continually updates to provide the highest CO reading," said Ogden. "From 2 to 9 ppm, the light is green. From 10 to 34 it is yellow, and anything 35 ppm and higher gives a red light and sounds an audible alarm to indicate a dangerous CO concentration."

Looking for leaks

The TEK-Mate® refrigerant leak detector has a slimmer design to make it easier to hold and work with in hard-to-reach areas, says manufacturer, Inficon, Inc. The product is sensitive to all types of CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants.

The detector automatically adjusts for different refrigerants and any airborne refrigerant activates a variable-intensity audible alarm and single flashing LED to help pinpoint leaks, the company says.

The company also introduced its GAS-Mate™ combustible-gas leak detector. It detects hydrocarbons and other gases and is designed for use in many leak-testing applications, including residential and commercial combustion appliances such as gas- or propane-fired heating systems.

Spectronics Corp. was showing the BigEZ™, a dye injector that holds enough leak-detection dye to treat air conditioning and refrigeration systems containing up to 16 gal of lubricant.

"This injector saves hook-up time for the technician and does away with mist-in," said Chet Smith, marketing communications manager. "It requires only one connection and also, no additional refrigerant is needed to add the dye."

The injector features a disposable dye cartridge that is calibrated in 1/8-oz increments so a tech can add the exact amount of dye for each system by turning a handle. "We are the only company with dye approvals from the major compressor manufacturers," added Smith.

New technology from SPX Robinair uses ultrasound technology to "hear" the sound of a leak. The TruTrack™ ultrasonic leak detector can be used to identify refrigerant leaks, pressurized gas leaks, vacuum leaks, dry nitrogen gas leaks, steam leaks, failing solenoids, valves, bearings, and more.

The user puts the headset on, adjusts the sensitivity level, and places the sensor near the suspected problem area. It can be used alone or with one of the probes, and the technician will hear the sound of the leak in the headset.

Sidebar: Copper tubing tools save time

DALLAS, TX — Toss out your solder and turn off that flame. What would normally take 1 to 1 1/2 min to do, can now be accomplished in about 4 sec, according to Dean Kisselberth, district manager for Ridge Tool Company.

The company’s ProPress™ system requires no solder and no flame to fit-crimp copper pipe together. It consists of specially engineered copper fittings with a seal on the inside, and an electro-hydraulic tool with interchangeable jaws that crimps the fittings to the copper tubing.

“The system eliminates lots of pipe preparation, and that further increases the time savings contractors will enjoy,” said Kisselberth. According to the company, using the ProPress will slightly increase a contractor’s materials cost, but will concurrently reduce labor costs. The result is installed cost savings of up to 20%.

The Tuning Fork™ tip from Uniweld Products, Inc., was designed to assist service technicians in the removal and/or replacement of heat pump reversing valves — without having to cut the copper tubing away and then spend time retrofitting the new valve.

“What would probably take one and a half hours to retrofit can now be accomplished in 30 minutes without the need to retrofit the system,” said Dave Foster, managing director. Four flame pairs on the fork (which gets its name due to its close resemblance to a tuning fork) allows the technician to heat up all of the fittings at once and remove the valve without altering the original copper tube and fittings.