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Press tool - Just do it!

Steve Minnich
Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
If you can squeeze it into the budget, I highly recommend it. I was on the fence for far too long and am so glad I just did it. The time saved is incredible and that's probably the thing I have the least of. I went with the Ridgid 340 because of its larger capacity and haven't heard of any problems with them. My favorite and most productive tool by a landslide.



Steve Minnich
Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
[email protected]
bob eckRich_49

Comments

  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 928
    The Ridgid press tool is a great tool not only for pressing copper press fittings and ball valves you can get the Ridgid Megapress jaws to use the Viega Megapress fittings for steel pipe for gas lines or water lines that can be used on water boilers.
    Steve MinnichRich_49
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,691
    Does anyone have experience with the Zoom Lock refrigerant press fitting tool? I like the idea of it but it's too unproven for me to pull the trigger.
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    I've been looking into them and from I've heard, and what's holding me back, is that equipment manufacturers haven't "approved" of them yet? I'm sure some AC/Ref. guys would know more than me.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,691
    I've heard equal parts good and bad about zoom Lock.

    I want to get a pro press but I can't convince my boss to pay for the fittings.

    If I could solder like you I would never use any other type of fitting. You are an artist sir
    Solid_Fuel_ManSteve Minnich
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    I'm old enough to remember the metal braided, precharged line sets from the early 80's and before. Those were a complete nightmare of failures. The Carrier compression fittings were a disaster too. I hope to hear good things about ZoomLock.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 928
    If you get one of the Ridgid smaller press tools you can press up to 1 1/4” copper press fittings and you can buy jaws that will fit the tool and then use the same tool to press the ZoomLock copper refrigerant fittings.

    Buying copper press fittings they are more expensive than regular copper sweat fittings but you need to add in the following when considering the cost of copper fittings.
    Acetylene, solder, flux, fitting brush, sand paper, copper cutter wheel, copper fitting brush and LABOR. Plus I am sure many contractors had to solder in areas where they were worried about starting an fire in the building. Pressing copper fittings compared to the possibility of starting an fire in someone’s house that is PRICELESS.
    I am sure many contractors have been on jobs where old valves will not hold back the water and water in copper lines makes soldering almost impossible and if you can solder that type of job water in the line makes that job very hard. Using copper press fittings and press tool water in the line is not an issue.
    I work for F W Webb Plumbing & Heating wholesaler and many of our branches have Ridgid press tools that contractors can rent and try the tool with Viega copper press fittings to see how you like using the tool and press fittings. It’s like anything else you do for the first time you will go a little slower at first but the more you use the press tool and press fittings the faster you will be able to install jobs.
    Steve Minnich
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,691
    I really like that it can be used safely in close quarters, without risk of burning anything. And you don't need to be concerned about water in n the pipes not allowing you to sweat a connection. Or in the case of refrigerant, you don't have to worry about being able unable to breathe due to burning refrigerant oils.

    When I was first introduced to press fittings I was quite impressed with how neat the boiler looked. When I got my first chance to use one I was shocked by how easy it is to use and make everything look neat.

    But will the pro press fittings hold up as well as solder and threaded fittings? Only time will tell. It's looking more and more like shark bite and sloppy PEX is the way of the future unfortunately.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,934
    We use ZoomLock now, just a few projects so far but I think the MC tank is going to stay on the truck more and more. It is faster, although the prep work is more involved than all but the crappiest pipe with 15% Ag solder. The fittings are even longer than a long radius ell. Not sure I'd use it on soft copper, but we haven't had any failures (yet) on ACR. I tell my 'tards to leave the linesets under 600# because I want the hangers to know when they get it with a nail, and because this one's a City Multi and that's part of the Mitsubishi commissioning protocol.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,342
    As for zoom lock I have only used it a little bit but the company I work for uses tons of it. I have herd of leak issues on the smaller sizes. The tubing has to be de burrd well inside and out, the tubing has to be inserted perfectly straight and I am hearing of some using a lubricant. Apparently there is an approved refrigerant lube that will not cause any contamination and is approved for refrigerant use.

    If you don't like the pro press price $$$ You will like the zoom lock price much less
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
    welcome to the new way to pipe,lol have been using that tool for yrs amazing how much time it saves and i have yet to have one fail !!!!!, and someone said a ref, guy would know more about these tools i would NEVER EVER use on a/c or ref. ONLY WATER, i recently decided to test those fittings on steam returns as you know, i will post an update after the next season
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"
    jenanesibrombach
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,283
    I have a 340 in my truck as well as a Nibco PC-200M, both are awesome for their respected places but IMO nothing will beat a good ol' sweat joint. I snagged a Ridgid RP 241 a few weeks ago that I've used a couple times also- I like that it'll do 1-1/4" unlike the Nibco which only goes to 1", but it's also quite a bit heavier and bulkier than the Nibco. For the big fittings that 340 is the cat's meow. I have the predecessor to that (can't remember the model) on one of my jobs right now and it easily weighs double what the 340 does and has less power. The press is slowly growing on me for spaces that get insulated or covered, but I can't feel good about myself leaving a press fitting for anyone to see. Mechanical rooms get soldered 100% of the time, I don't care if it takes 4 extra hours
    SuperTech
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    As much as appearance is everything on every job, the time saved on each pays for itself and get's me home. It also get's the heat back on faster for my customer's when it's cold out and their old boiler fails. I have been back to jobs I installed 3 years ago and they still look good. I use an older Milwaukee and love it.
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    I've yet to press an entire mechanical room but it's coming. Next month I'm replacing two boilers in a 24 unit apartment building and my goal is to not sweat a single joint.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    bob eck
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 928
    Steve Minnich where are you located at I would like to sell you the boilers, fittings, copper and other accessories.
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    My shop is in Carol Stream, Illinois. The apartment building is only 10 minutes away.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,243
    My problem with pressing is that I still have concerns with the o-ring seal on heat lines, although it seems like that has not been an issue. I have just seen too many o-rings on various heating exhaust systems, along with dielectrics, that have just disintegrated. They are all rated for heat.
    I can not understand the reasoning behind being able to get out of a job faster, unless you have bid the job. I charge by the hour, and do almost exclusively repair work, so it seems like i would make more money on my paycheck, as opposed to money going to the fitting manufacturer. Maybe I am missing something that someone can educate me about.
    As was said about being able to press in tight situations where it could be a fire hazard from soldering, there is no way you can get a press tool in an area where I can not safely solder.
    I would like to have a press tool just for the times where I do have a job that does need to be back on line in a hurry, but between the tool and the fittings, it is too expensive of an outlay.
    Rick
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 395
    Rich,
    For many reasons I too was hesitant to jump on the press fittings concept. After borrowing the machine and renting it a few times I finally saw the value for us. Faster, no leaks, no accidental fires in a hundred year old house when your soldering a few inches from a hand sawn beam, no flux to deal with, no more burnt skin, no more solder drops on me the boiler or nearby carpet. Yes we do a lot of installs, but it also is very handy when making repairs. In past years we would have to shut down a high rise building for say four or five hours and pray the water drips would stop long enough for us to get the solder to flow so we could sweat that new valve in. Today, it takes about a half hour for the same job.

    If you live in a remote area (I would think all of Alaska is remote), I could see a problem getting a wholesaler to stock PP fittings. I you charge by the hour and are rarely busy I could also understand not needing the tool. If you are like us, we have days when I wish I had twice as many guys the PP tool can really be helpful. If you bid installs and major repairs like we do, the PP machine pays for itself in about a year. We have the small Milwaukee that does up to 1.25" and the large Ridgid with jaws to 4".

    I'm sure there are people that never have to work on dripping copper water pipes and never burn themselves with a solder ball or copper fitting that was just soldered, but for me I certainly don't miss it.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,307
    edited April 2018
    Remind me why we don't like Shark Bite fittings.

    Has anyone seen one blow off? Or have the O-rings leaked? See where I'm going here.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    I have friends that have been using press for 20 years with minimal problems. That’s a solid history and one that I’m comfortable with. Here’s hoping I’m not wrong.

    And snugging up sharkbite with an adjustable wrench is a bit different than the compressive strength of a Ridgid 340. Again, I waited forever to do this and am so glad I did it.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    bob eckSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited April 2018
    Getting in, and out of a job faster creates more opportunities for more work load. Think of the waitress, and the owner of a restaurant. The goal is the faster they get you served food, and drinks the faster they get you out the door. Creating a higher customer turn over rate puts more money in their pockets for a day.
    GroundUpSteve Minnich
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,342
    @rick in Alaska

    believe me I am not a pro press advocate. Fought it for years

    I use it because it's faster, saves a lot of labor and because I have to. Unless you have tried it you can't understand how much time it can save and labor is $$ Also we do all commercial work and all the union contractors are using them. Is it inferior? I don't know. I worry about the o rings with glycol. Keeping the piping straight is an issue. You have to alternate crimp locations to try and make it look good.

    And crimping some of the "no lead" brass fittings (adapters).....they don't leak but you can wiggle the pipe in the fitting.

    And then there is the exorbitant cost of the fittings. Did some 4" a few years back and a 4" elbow was something like $160. God knows what they cost now, But it saves a lot of time. Especially when valves don't hold.

    On commercial work we frequently have to have a fire watch when soldering. Customers don't want to deal with bagging smoke detectors, paying for a fire watch labor, fire permits or shutting down fire alarm systems.

    We have commercial jobs in MA (schools) where we are FORCED to hire the local fire dept. to do the fire watch when soldering or welding at $42.00/hour.

    And they sit in their truck and read the "newspaper" (aka porno) while we work in the building

    I
  • Jon_blaney
    Jon_blaney Member Posts: 136
    Gordy,

    But why would I pay you for two hours work when it only to one hour to do the job?
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,994

    Gordy,

    But why would I pay you for two hours work when it only to one hour to do the job?

    There are tons of angles on this.
    You make more money on the expensive parts.
    You can charge a fee on the tool usage.
    I don't see the logic in not buying a time saving tool because it will reduce your billable hours. If this is the case with your business, I would take a long look at your hourly rate and markups.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    GordyDan FoleySteve Minnich
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    To add to Zman's point, let's lose the cordless drills we've been using since 1980ish.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    Gordy
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514

    To add to Zman's point, let's lose the cordless drills we've been using since 1980ish.


    Lol at mercy hospital I was thinking that. 500 tradesmen in a dozen or more trades. Cordless about everything possible. The extension cord boys are hurting :D . Think back to corded tool everything the cords everywhere a hazard in itself.


    Zman
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514

    Gordy,

    But why would I pay you for two hours work when it only to one hour to do the job?

    You wouldn’t, and I would not want you to. However the next job I go to was made possible because I took less time at your
    Job. Times the next job, and the next job. You don’t want the other guy getting the work you could get “IF” you have the time, which was made possible by the tool. I’ll debate the look, and longevity is still in the making, but you can’t debate the time saved, and the money that indirectly ends up in your account from any tool that saves time.
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,679
    The look is growing on me.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
  • I'm like so many of you that have come around after years of telling myself it wasn't for me. I bought a Ridgid RP200 and I love it! It's a blast to use. I'm 66 now and have only a few years left in the trade and I never thought piping could be so much fun.

    And Zman makes good points about keeping your profit margin intact. I now charge a minimum 1½ hrs. on repair jobs, sometimes 2 hrs. depending on the complexity and how many expensive tools (press tool, infrared camera, combustion analyzer, etc.) I have to use. Call it what you will, you've got to pay for high quality tools and the smarts it takes to keep up in this industry. I never get a complaint.

    Ridgid now makes ½" and ¾" MegaPress jaws for the RP200 so I can now press gas pipe. What's not to like?
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    Zman