Washington, D.C., is home to many of our country’s prominent museums, tasked with preserving national treasures and historical artifacts for future generations. HVACR plays a critical role in the preservation process. Because dust, moisture, and other environmental factors can speed up deterioration, centuries old artifacts must be kept in dry, cool climate-controlled rooms. An inefficient or nonfunctioning HVAC system can be detrimental to the museum collections.

Welch & Rushe is a full-service mechanical company based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. One of its longtime clients is the Smithsonian Institute. For its latest undertaking, the company was hired to replace an old climate control system in one of the Smithsonian’s storage vaults.

The vaults stored books dating back to the 1500s, making them too fragile to move and too risky to use an open flame for brazing. So, the project required a flame-free installation process that could get the job done quickly and reliably.

Lead installer Zach Bailey recommended RLS press fittings, which offer a flame-free alternative to the conventional process of brazing when joining HVACR lines. The press fittings are installed through a press-to-connect process and can be applied in a matter of seconds, offering contractors a permanent mechanical connection up to 60% faster than brazing. Because press fittings do not require the use of an open flame, it completely removes the need for fire precautions including hot work permits, fire spotters, and fire safety equipment.

After reviewing the spec sheet and fittings with the engineers, Bailey and his team were approved to move forward with RLS for the project at the Smithsonian vault. The team used more than 40 fittings to install a water-cooled Samsung system, including 15 three-eighth couplings. The couplings were installed in under one minute each with press. The work was completed without a torch and without compromising the quality of installation, while also protecting the library’s fragile artifacts from the hazards of open flame.