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Tricks of the Trade

We all have our tricks, no? We do them so often, we don't think they're tricks anymore until someone watches you do it and says that it's amazing.
This is something I do every time I purge a new radiant system. I take the end of the hose that I'm using to purge and put it in a 5 gallon bucket. When the bucket fills up with water, you can see the air bubbles coming to the surface. When the bubbles stop (which might take 5-10 minutes per loop), you move on to the next loop.
Do you have any tricks that you're willing to share?

Often wrong, never in doubt.

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  • Tom_133Tom_133 Member Posts: 684
    Alan I dont have a lot of tricks that I can think of, but I am a one man band so whenever someone watches me they try to help and it throws me off. At times thats just holding an end of the pipe I am cutting or holding the level while I am measuring, but it is strange how well we adapt to working alone in a trade that is much better with two or more. I think we get into a rhythm and we just go to our autopilot setting, days blow by and things get done. Kinda cool
    Montpelier Vt
    delta TAlan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Member Posts: 802
    @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Thanks My trick of the trade is when you are pulling BX cable from a wooden spool, the cable knots itself. If you connect a two gang mud run onto the spool over the center hole and place it on the ground, you can pull the wire and the spool will spin without the wire getting a knot. This is for on a concrete floor
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
    Click here to buy Ray's books.
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Member Posts: 482
    I have one of your changing out a furnace, just a furnace.

    If the coil above it doesn’t have a canvas connector or you can’t lift the coil up over the 1/2”-1” flange on the top of furnace, this trick works perfect.

    All you do is remove blower motor, and snip from the front of the furnace all the way to the back wall and fold the furnace into its self.

    It reduces its height dramatically and you can pull the furnace out without yanking and pulling at all.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,935
    This is so simple I am ashamed to call it a trick because I have been doing this for years. But I still see a lot of guys cleaning copper fittings by hand.

    I dump my fitting bucket out and pick the fittings I want. Then I take the fitting brushes and cut the wood/plastic handles off with side cutters. Put the fitting brush in a battery drill and clean all my fittings at once.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,935
    When fishing wire in a wall some use a string with a nut or a pc of solder on it for a weight and a snake from below to hook it

    The best is a pc of "jack chain" the stuff you hang commercial light fixtures with.

    tie a foot of this to a pc of "mason line" which is really strong. Then use a string from below. Jack chain is easy to snag
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,194
    A Unibit or stepped bit makes copper de-burring easy.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • GroundUpGroundUp Member Posts: 960
    One of the issues when sweating copper and there is a horizontal run of pipe coming from an elbow, the pipe wants to spin right? Gravity. Short runs I will always take a Channel Lock 420 and squeeze the cup of the fitting with the pipe at about the 1 o'clock position so that the flats cause friction when it gets to the desired 3 o'clock horizontal position and stay there unsupported. Longer runs are too heavy and this doesn't work alone, so I will take my tape measure and set it on the floor, pull it out to hit the bottom of the leveled pipe while supporting it with my free hand (usually with torpedo level in hand, under the pipe) and hit the lock. Then the tape will hold the pipe level and you have both hands free to solder.

    My bread and butter is radiant floors, 95% of them in detached sheds/shops/pole buildings. Being in the great white north, 95% of that 95% require glycol to avoid freezing in the event of a power outage or equipment failure so everything needs to be pumped in. Like your bucket trick, I will dump the drain into a bucket with a washing machine hose but then suck out of that same bucket to push back into the system with another washing machine hose and transfer pump. Any bubbles float to the top while pure fluid is able to be recirculated. Maybe everybody does this, I don't know as I haven't found another way aside from relying on the circ to do it which almost never works

  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,496
    Here’s my trick that has always been helpful in tracing out control wiring weather it’s hydronic or air based .First off I do this on my own jobs and always find it shorten both-service calls and installation and it’s easy. Use colored cable ties to identify your wiring ie t stat ,remote sensors ,end switches ,zone valves ,pumps what ever no more tracing out a birds nest .This was a self learned tech 100 times better then those tiny numbered labels only some one20 years old can read lol .any time when subbing and I do it they look at me cross eyed until when finished piping and go to wire say a multi zone circ or zone relay they realize the reasoning ,makes quick work and zero mis wiring .great tech for guys who do replacement work and work solo nothing worse then multi trips to ohm and identify stats and remote controls. My second trick is for steam boilers skimming and seems to cut skimming time it is to make sure that your feeding water into the opposite side from your skim port other wise you most likely will return to re skim and if you can’t then pull the return plug and wand it Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,338
    When you put your line set in for a mini split wall tumor, put a string in for the electrician at the same time. Less chance of him putting his feeds right in the way.

    if you're pulling wires through some place with poor access, put a string through it that's twice as long as necessary, tie it off at both ends & tie a loop in the middle. Pull the loop back & forth as many times as needed, & leave it in for that last wire that you forgot!

    Put the bucket on the ladder, unless you have four of them.

  • steamfittersteamfitter Member Posts: 161
    Adding to the hose in bucket trick for venting:
    Cut d thread a piece of 3/4" steel pipe about 18" long and screw a ball valve with a hose adapter on one end. Attach a washing machine hose to the adapter and a regular hose to the washing machine hose.
    Now, if you are venting large mains or risers running ove a ceiling, you can open the vent valve and control your venting on the ground using the ball valve on the short run of pipe. No more venting on a ladder and making a mess with water above a hung ceiling.
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,194
    If you work with aluminum transfer plates. Cutting a stack with a non ferrous blade in a chop saw. A Unibit removes any burr and chamfers the sharp edge.

    A blast from the past, RTI transfer plates :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • We use this when we're under a house securing PEX for UltraFin. It's like having and extra hand.

    Often wrong, never in doubt.

    Click here to learn more about this contractor.
    delta T
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,194
    Here is a SilverBack fingerless glove version also.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Member Posts: 482
    Just thought I’d attach a photo to show what my post described.

    This furnace had no room for the coil on Top to get pushed up.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 6,935
    Good trick. If it's only duct work above just hack it. your trick is good if saving the coil
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,338
    When I were still a sparktrician, I make a tool to hold the wires out of my way when I was dressing a panel. Take a 4" long ¼-20 (out of a toggle bolt kit, usually), drop a fender warsher onto it & spin a nut down & snug it up to hold the warsher. Spin a couple of nuts onto the end & jam 'em together so that about 3/8" of the bolt is sticking out. Put it into the hole along the outside edge of the tub, use another nut behind to secure it.
  • PumpguyPumpguy Member Posts: 421
    edited May 2019
    Adjusting the set points on diaphragm type vacuum switches is a frustrating adjust and try procedure. They don't have indicator pointers and scales like mercury types do.

    Add to this the questionable performance of the system's vacuum pump(s) and sometimes missing isolation valve(s) and you have a difficult task before you.

    To avoid these difficulties, I like to disconnect the vacuum switch sensing lines from the system and instead connect up a hand held vacuum pump that an auto mechanic would use to bleed brakes.

    Using this hand held auto mechanic's vacuum pump, you can set these vacuum switches to the desired settings regardless of the performance of the system vacuum pumps, or other system conditions.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
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