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Lineset Leaks

135

Comments

  • VivianZoe
    VivianZoe Member Posts: 1
    I am a homeowner with this problem now. I don't think it would be any less a problem were the lines outside. Mine are buried in the walls... in hard spray foam and failing.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,703
    As on the other sites 
    your options are limited. 
    Replace the line set and move on.
    replace the line set and hope and pray for a settlement in the years to come. 

    No one is going to step up and pay for this issue!
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,703
    The OP
    got a bad run of mini line sets buried in the wall after 4 years and want to sue for replacement!
  • hvac_life
    hvac_life Member Posts: 9
    As an HVAC professional, it is challenging to explain to clients the unfortunate fact that coil corrosion can happen without them realizing it.
    And yes, corrosion can start just after a few weeks after installation and it’s a real headache when you need to explain why it’s happening when the unit is just few months old.

    I have experienced coil failures one after another, using different brands and insulations.

    I did realize that most of the leaking lines where installed in the attic, all with spray foam insulation.
    I suspected the off gassing from the foam insulation (homes less than six years old) is the culprit.

    I wanted to educate myself and read reading academic articles and also listening to manufacturer's feedback (so far I have been supported by one company, the rest did not even call me back!!) and I came across formicary corrosion which is typically caused by exposure to acetic or formic acids.

    These acids are present and off gassed by a host of household products including cleaning solvents, insulation, adhesives, paints, plywood, spray foam (here we go!) and many other materials.
    This type of corrosion is not always immediately visible and sometimes presents itself as black or blue-gray deposits. Formicary corrosion creates tunnels within the tubing that result in pinholes forming in the coils, again often leading to a refrigerant leak.
    Facilities located in more corrosive environments including near saltwater or in industrial sites are particularly prone to experiencing coil corrosion. Other environments that may contribute to a higher number of corrosive materials being expelled include areas around pools, laundry facilities, water treatment plants, sewers and high traffic areas.
    In such highly corrosive areas, coils have been known to fail in less than one year.
    A potential cause of coil corrosion is Chinese drywall.
    The drywall was imported from China from 2004 to 2007 and installed in both residential and commercial buildings. The drywall emits sulfur compounds, which corrode metal, including air conditioning coils.

    Read to believe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_drywall

    This seems like a joke but there are academic and scientific studies behind this and, probably, the same "deniers" have been living in corrosive environments and breathing corrosive air for years without knowing it, pointing the fingers to the manufacturers driven by the frustration of unhappy homeowners and free of charge service calls. I have been through that myself as well.

    I recently came across a new pre-insulated line sets, manufactured with a coating on the pipe.
    At the beginning I was hesitant because I had a couple of failures with their standard product before, but gave them credit and this is paying off so far.

    However, it is understood that copper quality and thickness MUST respect industry standards (ductless needs ACR rating and ASTMB280 and 99.9% pure copper, according to the trainers) and I have found many domestic and international products with no markings and/or references to these as I have just approached the press connection World and this is key for warranty and certifications.
    And everything comes to a price point … cheap copper = cheap results.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    We switched to black insulation (164 foot rolls) sets a couple years ago. BuhBye white stuff. 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • hvac_life
    hvac_life Member Posts: 9
    Keep us posted on how they perform. I had two replacements installed in the Long Island area that failed due to pin holes on the copper pipe (both outdoor and indoor). Not able to find any 164ft rolls either!!
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    FW Webb has them, I presume they can ship but that adds dough 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,350
    We had some manufacturing jobs that the coils would fail do to whatever chemicals they used that were exhausted on to the roof where the AC units were. The manufacturer can have the coils coated before they build the units. Cost xtra $$$ of course. This is widely known on commercial work
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    I have installed many of the coated evap coils (generally 4x8 foot!) in agricultural buildings which are prevalent in my area. And the coating just ends up flaking off the copper like paint after 5 or so years. It then impedes airflow and we end up with liquid back to the compressor.....

    I've found out stainless is the only thing to hold up in many of those environments. Dollars now, or breakdowns and more dollars later. 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    I can’t even imagine some of the potential issues with some of these large installs and or buried line sets. I presume it’s an issue at the factory. We’ve installed 10s of thousands of feet of white stuff but have only had about 8 or 10 leakers (I do have a list, too lazy to access it at this time). 

    I heard of one big commercial job, large nursing home installation- line sets leaked and it all had to be replaced. I can not even fathom that. I will stick with resi 

    But why some leak and all don’t is still a small mystery 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
    ethicalpaul
  • hvac_life
    hvac_life Member Posts: 9
    I strongly believe it is environmental and related to the amount of condensation on the pipe.
    That's why I think that a coated copper pipe might be the solution and I am giving credit to this product.

    @GW If you had 8/10 issues over 10s of thousands of feet installed ..... that's actually not bad at all (do not get me wrong, I know it's very frustrating) and in my opinion does not fully justify the pillory of the "white" line sets. Evaporator coils leaks have been so far way more problematic and widespread, due to the same process (formicary corrosion).

    What the market calls "white" line sets (that are made of PE but can be colored in any way so it's also important to know that...) have been used in other countries (Asia and Europe) forever (you see them everywhere when travelling to these areas, not a foot of black rubber) and the manufacturing companies have been using the same formula since year zero .. if what is triggering formicary is 100% a product issue, I believe these companies would been out of business already.
    That's just my thought .. We also need to be careful about the message that we get from the "black" rubber insulation manufactures that have lost LOTS of market share due to the "white" PE insulation.....

    @ Solid_Fuel_Man It is important not to mix evaporator coils leaks with line sets, on which the coating has different impact and result!!
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    here here! I don't have lots of energy to dive too deeply into this topic. It's evident that the white sets (you are free to define a white line set as you deem necessary). All I know is we never had an issue with the old school black sets. Then we switched to white sets for the sheer fact they came in 164 footers (much less waste, less joints). Then we had issues. 8 or 10 is too many issues. Then I switched back to black, now available in 164. I'm a simple guy, it's just that simple on my end.

    Some day I will have energy to weigh a black roll and a white roll (I just need to walk into the supply house with my scale in hand, as we don't stock white anymore). I've never had the two rolls in my possession at the same moment, but the black roll seems very much heavier. Kinda seems like there's more copper in the black sets
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • DrPutor
    DrPutor Member Posts: 1
    I'm a home owner in RI, and this issue has cost me over 5K in having to replace the 5 line sets for my minisplit system. For the record it is PDM Gelcopper line sets date codes 2016. Installed in 2016, first used 2017, leaks discovered 2020.
    It would be nice if the manufacturer would step up and admit their mistake and help everyone by absorbing some of the replacement costs for all involved.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    GW said:



    Some day I will have energy to weigh a black roll and a white roll (I just need to walk into the supply house with my scale in hand, as we don't stock white anymore). I've never had the two rolls in my possession at the same moment, but the black roll seems very much heavier. Kinda seems like there's more copper in the black sets

    I am almost certain that is the cause of any leak in what should be a solid piece of copper tubing.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,703
    Chemical reaction between the insulation, H2O and copper. 

    Everyone lost on that deal. 
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    We are at 5 leaks. I asked my vendor a couple years ago when we first had this issue, and crickets. I asked again this week, thinking 'there's no way I'm gonna get the same answer, everyone knows there's a problem", and sure enough: "I'll try and find out what the steps are and let you know". Extremely hard to believe this is 'just me'.
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
    ethicalpaul
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    Maybe you are the only one that did a good enough job that they called you back when it broke...
    Canucker
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    Yes that’s a pleasant way to look at it I guess. 

    We gassed about 8 units this summer so far, we are going back when we catch our breath in mid late August or September to deal with them. Never have we ever had to juice so many systems in one season. 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,627
    When you have a leak in let’s say a 3head mini split, is the procedure to pick a line set, isolate it, vacuum recover the 410a, then pressurize with nitrogen, then rinse and repeat for each set till you find the leak?

    do you bother to test the joints for leaking or do you just rerun the whole line at that point?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    edited July 2021
    Paul, Not sure if there’s a right or wrong answer to that, different things for different people.

    Some leaks can be an absolute disaster. Extremely hard to find 

    leaking line, we kinda wanna see the bad line, not gonna replace it until we know what’s up. We’ve had more wall unit leaks that line set leaks 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
    ethicalpaul
  • heathead
    heathead Member Posts: 234
    I found some line sets on supply house that have a coating on the copper. They seem pricey, but better than doing it twice. What do you guys think? Any other manufacture have line sets that have a coating like this. The manufactures have to know about a problem if they make a solution to it. I ordered a set. I will see what they look like. ISOTECHUV14-12-50 Sorry having trouble uploading image, my fault not the sites.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    Heathead that should work! I am paying yuge for black sets. I may come up with a “b” line pricing structure and offer a Chinese minis and white line sets. 
    I’ve installed miles of white and only suffered 5 line leaks. More to come I’m quite sure
    I’m just done with white (for now)
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,506
    GW said:
    Heathead that should work! I am paying yuge for black sets. I may come up with a “b” line pricing structure and offer a Chinese minis and white line sets. 
    I’ve installed miles of white and only suffered 5 line leaks. More to come I’m quite sure
    I’m just done with white (for now)
    I am so confused.
    You said you only had 5 leaks, and installed miles and will come up with pricing for white insulated line sets but then said you're done with them.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    edited July 2021
    Have you ever had the black linesets leak without severe physical damage?
  • hvac_life
    hvac_life Member Posts: 9
    @heathead ISOTECH is what I have been using so far. It seems to work well and I have not seen anything like this in the field. I made extra researches and connected few dots. I have also heard from the local contractors community that the new black tier resistant product is starting to have problems as well so I am more & more convinced that a coated copper pipe is the way to go to stop the formicary corrosion problem, along with copper pureness and wall thickness (must be ASTM B280 for ductless).
    Everything has a price but a service call will definitely cost more.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    Chris sorry I wasn’t clear. I wish to create a differentiation—-you spend more you get x, you spend less you get y. I’m ok with the very low odds. I just wanna make it clear and plain to my customers what the ins and outs are 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    edited July 2021
    MattMia no but time will tell. I wish I had weighed the line sets back when I was installing white sets. The black seems much heavier. I have to wonder if the copper is a better grade. 

    We have seen “light spots” in copper. It’s apparent when we flare and when we torque the nut. If the wrench beeps right away, I can bet my left pinky toe it will hold and never leak. If the wrench keeps spinning and does not meet the required torque, we know we found a soft spot in the copper roll. 

    Ironically, we had our first  “black set” soft spot yesterday. After 5 attempts we cut off a chunk on the other end of the roll, flared it, torqued it, and it beeped. So we brazed the small stub on where the soft spot was and Bang—job was nails 

    so many guys can not flare- it’s quite obvious if you look at a few tech pages on Facebook. One fellow I know, who had a pretty good reputation, once shared with me he was so frustrated with flaring that he resorted to using a liquid copper sealer and essentially fused the flares onto the pieces of equipment. Not good 

    I could ramble on. Starting to drift off topic 😀
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    You could always double flare it if a single flare isn't strong enough.

    When you cut out a bad white lineset you can flatten a piece and measure it with a micrometer. I assume the ones we have been using for over half a century are K L or M annealed copper tube.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,506
    edited July 2021
    mattmia2 said:

    You could always double flare it if a single flare isn't strong enough.

    When you cut out a bad white lineset you can flatten a piece and measure it with a micrometer. I assume the ones we have been using for over half a century are K L or M annealed copper tube.

    I wouldn't recommend double flaring copper.

    I tried to find specifications on Mueller linesets but gave up.
    The refrigeration tubing on McMaster looks like the wall thickness is the same as type L pipe but it's only rated to 580 PSI where's Mueller is 700 I think.

    You're going to have a very hard time measuring that wall thickness and comparing it to others. The pipe will need to be properly deburred etc and being soft and rolled it's going to be a challenge.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    You would need a caliper or micrometer designed for curved surfaces to make a precise measurement but I think you could slit and flatten a section being careful not to stretch it appreciably and measure with a standard micrometer to get measurements close enough to demonstrate one is significantly thinner than the other.
  • hvac_life
    hvac_life Member Posts: 9
    I have learnt from our local Rep trainings and confirmed by reading the codes that copper pipes for ductless systems must be ASTM B280 certified.
    This defines the wall thicknesses.
    Most of the products sold in the field are still ASTM B743 which is 10%-12% less thick than ASTM B280, it is cheaper and not compliant.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,506
    hvac_life said:

    I have learnt from our local Rep trainings and confirmed by reading the codes that copper pipes for ductless systems must be ASTM B280 certified.
    This defines the wall thicknesses.
    Most of the products sold in the field are still ASTM B743 which is 10%-12% less thick than ASTM B280, it is cheaper and not compliant.

    What differences does a minispit system have over a standard split that would cause lineset failure due to tubing thickness?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    The other question would be is anyone checking? Anyone can make a stamp that prints the astm number on the tube.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,605
    That is curious about the wall thickness. Most mini split linesets are technically evaporator (expansion device in the outdoor unit), so I'd expect them to see less pressure than a lineset on a standard split.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,679
    Heat mode is high pressure 

    But I agree, are we talking chemical reaction or wall thicknesses? 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,506
    Speaking of linesets.

    Has anyone had any long term experience with the "pre charged" linesets DIY companies are selling like MrCool?

    It's an interesting idea, though I don't care for the small amount of NCG and moisture left at the connection points.

    I'm curious if any of this equipment actually lasts in the real world or if it's great for a year or two and then junk.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    edited July 2021
    I suspect they have the same issue as quick connect linesets of the 70's and 80's where they saved a few bucks on not using the right compound for the o rings so they harden and leak after a decade or so. Their web site seemed to fail to show anything about their product when you clicked on the product links.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,506
    mattmia2 said:
    I suspect they have the same issue as quick connect linesets of the 70's and 80's where they saved a few bucks on not using the right compound for the o rings so they harden and leak after a decade or so. Their web site seemed to fail to show anything about their product when you clicked on the product links.
    I assume they're flares. No?
    They're pre charged so the claims are no vacuum pump needed.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,471
    I really can't tell:
    https://www.supplyhouse.com/Mr-Cool-DIYCOUPLER-1412K50-Coupler-for-DIY-9K-12K-18K-Units-w-50ft-Communication-Wire

    It could be a flare on the end or it could be o rings on the walls like an automotive quick connect coupler or the quick connect linesets of the past. My guess is o rings because the o ring holds the charge in as the seals are punctured before the fitting comes together all the way.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,605
    This PDF has a few details about (one type) of quick coupler. No guarantee it's the same one, unfortunately.
    mattmia2