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Nightmarish service call

Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Member Posts: 2,538
I do this service call for a really nice couple who said the unit has been freezing up a bit lately in this really hot/humid weather. So I take care of everything and we're cooling well and pressure and temperatures and everything is great.

I remove my gauges. I tighten the service valve cap on the liquid line. I put the cap on the suction line service valve and snug it up wth my crescent wrench...barely tighten it and the whole thing blows out, literally comes apart and the entire charge is blown. And, of course, it's R22.

35 years of doing this and I've never had anything like this happen before. It was a "cold" brazed joint at best. Barely a based joint at all and the unit is 20 years old! How in the world did it last this long?




PHC News Columnist
Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design

Comments

  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,214
    Wow! Never had that happen. That kind of stinks. Makes you wonder about the rest of the joints on the service valve.

    I replaced 2 leaky steel service valves on a dairy refrigeration unit once. The 7/8 copper to steel connection barely had any penetration. The manufacturer's don't always get things 100% I guess.
    Ramer Mechanical
    ramermechanical.com
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Member Posts: 2,538
    Not even close on this one and WOW is right. It makes me look bad. I tried like hell to put my thumb over the hole and grab my crescent and Allen wrench but it was too hard. Even if I got the valve closed, I still would have lost a bunch. Finally, I just let it go. Re-piped it and installed new valves.

    Even though its 20 years old, I didn't even really try to sell them a new one. My hands were on it when it blew so I'll take the hit.
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design
    Paul S_3IronmanGordyrick in Alaska
  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,214
    I didn't ask because I knew that's how you would handle it.

    Some days, huh!

    Bet the valve got a bit frosty?
    Ramer Mechanical
    ramermechanical.com
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    Steve Minnich
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Member Posts: 2,538
    Yeah. Thank God they're few and far between.
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design
  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 5,568
    'How did it last that long?"

    Probably, no one every put gauges on it since it was installed.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    Steve Minnich
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,342
    Sucks. I've never had a teat twist off like that, but seen plenty of lousy factory joints. I was always a fan of backup wenches before, now I think I might just go all in on 'em.
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Member Posts: 2,538
    I've always been a backup wrench guy too but this was crazy.
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,101
    back in the 70's every manufacturing company had a robust QC department that inspected everything at several points during the manufacturing process. This cost money but it was a good way to insure things were done right and consistently.

    The cost cutting started in earnest in the mid 80's and has become ever more prevalent since then. Now we have ISO 9000 that is supposed to insure everything is done exactly the same, it may not be done right but will be done consistently.

    Another race to the bottom.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    Steve Minnich
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,793
    In the 80's, Rheem/ruud come out with a bulletin warning of defective service valves.
    The problem was with the initial opening of the valves with the Allen wrenches. Seems some valves were missing the internal "C" clip to stop the stem rise, or the clip would not stop the screwing out of the stem. Something bad must have happened to someone for them to issue this warning.

    The recommended fix was to just open the valve stem a certain amount and stop. There could be some of these valves out in the field and caution should be taken to not open them too far.
    I know this is a different problem but has the same bad results.
    Harvey Ramer
  • Paul S_3Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    edited August 2016
    i had a breaker tripping for a 15 ton Rheem condensing unit....the way the unit was installed i had to remove the condenser fan blade to get at the compressors so i can check for a short.....while my body was half way in the condensing unit i leaned on the discharge line not much....it popped out and i lost about 30 pounds of R22 in about 10 seconds....i was covered in oil...thank god i didnt get burned....the embarrassing part was that there was a Mcdonalds drive thru near the unit with about 20 cars lined up every one was staring. LoL....turns out once the smoke cleared that the discharge line was barely brazed.
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    347-692-4777
    [email protected]
    ASMHVACNYC.COM
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/asm-mechanical-company
  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,214
    Thanks for the tip Jughne. I maintain a Rheem unit that falls in that time slot. 30+ years old.
    Ramer Mechanical
    ramermechanical.com
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • aircooled81aircooled81 Member Posts: 194
    Be careful out there, I'm glad you didnt loose an eye!
    I tried on a few occasions to save the charge, now I just let it go. No use loosing a finger or an eye, nice try, those mechanical reflexes kick in and you feel like theres something you can do.
    Steve MinnichCanucker
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Member Posts: 2,538
    @JUGHNE - I had that happen to me in '82 or '83 on a Carrier 38EN or EC or something like that. I'm backing out the suction line service valve and before you know it, it shot past me a blew a hole in a 2nd story soffit. Couldn't have missed my head by much. "A No Country for Old Men" near miss :smile:
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/minnich-hydronic-consulting-and-design
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,793
    That problem was probably not isolated to any one AC manufacturer but rather to whoever was supplying service valves to most of the industry at that time.
    Hatterasguy
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,342
    You mean, the cheapest bidder? :neutral:
    JUGHNE
  • mikedomikedo Member Posts: 122
    why would you take the hit. thats the problem with this trade we have to warranty the junk other people make. i don't do it anymore. i have to make a profit when i work. if i lose a customer that wants me to work for free its no loss
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,342
    Not all customers must be our customers.

    I think all boss-types should have that sitting in front of them at all times.

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