Refrigerants and Leaks

Can readers comment on how the phaseout of CFC refrigerants in the USA has changed their jobs? For example, a bulk milk cooling tank was installed and it didn’t have enough R-12 to stop the sight glass bubbling. It may have been because of the high cost of R-12. I carefully checked for leaks with my Yokogawa H-10 professional leak detector and found none.

A room air conditioner with R-22 on the nameplate had a sealed system problem and I noticed a line tap valve on the suction line. The customer said it had been in a shop for repair and, furthermore, they had put in something different than the regular Freon. I told the customer to bring it back to that shop since I have no way to identify the refrigerant and wouldn’t have a recovery cylinder for whatever it is. While I was checking on a refrigerator, she found an invoice from that shop. They had used R-22. I placed the air conditioner in a location which had little airflow or drafts and found a leak in the line tap valve. The Yokogawa H-10 professional leak detector showed there was no other leak during the final leak check after I removed the line tap valve and recharged with R-22.

I understood the refrigerant recovered from equipment which is condemned is to be reclaimed and used for repairing equipment which is still in operation. Is this still happening today? Can you have your recovered refrigerant reclaimed? What about 100-lb quantities? Have some companies gone to air conditioning only to avoid working with CFC refrigerant used in lower temperature refrigeration?

Have you decided not to repair a small leak because of the high cost of refrigerant (instead you leave the small leak, assuming it will operate for many years)?

Are you certain the refrigerant in the system is the same as the one listed on the model plate?

Do you like the sticker type of model plate? Are you certain what the refrigerant is when the model sticker was wiped off during cleaning?

Will you be sure of the refrigerant type 40 years from now?

Have you heard about automotive air conditioning technicians putting R-134a “right on top of R-12,” in spite of no retrofit of hoses and lubricants? Bear in mind that these systems may operate fewer hours per year than a stationary refrigeration system, so when they say, “They keep on working OK,” it might not for you or me.

I have seen refrigerators with open defrost heaters defrost automatically because of moisture in the system.

A refrigerator with moisture in the system may freeze up with ice in the capillary tube when the condenser is dirty and start cooling again when the condenser is cleaned. The silica gel drier releases moisture as the temperature rises.

How do you explain to a customer that they had a leak and lost $500.00 in CFC refrigerant? Do you use an elec-tronic leak detector to make a final leak check after work on the sealed system?

What do you say to the customer who says, “I hope it is just out of Freon” when you arrive to service?

Did you stop buying CFC refrigerant because they said there would be a “floor tax”? If you knew what they would actually do, would you have stocked up?

Larry Johnston Madison, MO

Profit Booster, Headache Reducer

I would like to comment on an article in the October 23 issue. On page 21 there was a half-page article on the subject of correct pricing [“How Do You Know If the Price Is Right?”].

While any help this industry can get on this subject is appreciated, I do think that maybe there is a better way of pricing jobs. We have been using the dual overhead method; this gives you a more accurate picture of your company’s profitability.

This method is simple. The work is two parts material to one part labor. This scenario on crunching the numbers will work just fine if you are using your proper overhead numbers.

Now come the hidden losses — if you do not choose to use a dual overhead method to calculate your jobs. Your labor will not have the proper overhead applied to it unless you put your correct overhead burden on it. In the whole picture, your material has a much lower burden.

We replaced Mr. Art Guilmet’s calcu-lations with the dual overhead method some years ago. I believe this will help many companies to see where they are in their bids and will reaffirm where they might be losing some of their profits.

Bill Trumbull TMS Inc.

The Importance of Meeting Face-to-Face

I really enjoyed John Hall’s column in the Nov. 27 issue [“Let’s Not Forget Our Roots”]. I think he is right about losing our roots.

I remember when I started out in the business that work orders were dup-licated with carbon paper, used testing equipment with the old-time gauges with needles, and volt-ohm meters that had needles. To this very day I have trouble with the digital world.

I think we have lost sight of what it is to go out and meet our customers face-to-face. We have trouble with meeting our own family face-to-face! We just e-mail them to see how they are doing.

We need to get back to the basics of our forefathers and meet our customers face-to-face. We may even find that they are really neat people.

Fred Ford Hagerstown, MD

Publication date: 01/22/2001