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Jackmartin Member Posts: 196
I was sitting here thinking about some of the colossal mistakes I have been involved in over the last 46 years and this one came to mind. This was back in the days of the dinosaurs when I was still an apprentice in the Industrial Refrigeration Industry. The shop I worked for was totally dedicated to refrigeration, none of us knew anything about steam. Well, I suppose I knew more than anyone else, I had worked as a steamfitters helper for a while, so I was the expert, yeah right. The shop had four Mechanical Engineers and none of them knew anything about steam period, but that didn't stop the one who knew about everything from lending us his huge intellect. The boss had picked up a steam heating job because it was slow, we were waiting for material from Chigaco, well works work, right? The job entailed installing a steam heating forced air coil in one of the many sewing factories we had at that time. Sewing factory work,as I am sure you know, is just legal slavery, but they had to earn a living. We were sent out to the job, everything was the on-site coil, pipe, steam trap, we asked ourselves at the time what the hell is that thing, yeah we should be installing steam. Brainiac came out and told us just how to do it, which was nice because we didn't have a clue, we could pipe like mad men but this was like Mars to us. So, away we went, installed the pipe as per jerks direction, figured out the steam trap went on the bottom outlet of the coil, and installed the isolation valves just the way we were told. Mr. Perfect came out for start-up and he tells me, being a lowly apprentice, to open the supply valve wide open, yessir, dingbat, open the valve I did. We didn't know steam came in different pressures we thought it was low pressure at best, we were used to installing piping that worked at 300 PSIG, how much pressure could there be? I wacked open the valve and all hell hit the place 100 psig of steam wanted into our pipe and by Heavens, it was going to get there. Instantly, all the pipe we had put in square, grew and drove everything any way that would give and the explosions started. I think the only word you could have used for us was OH MY GOD let's run. The brain had it all figured out do this do that etc, etc, well guess what, it still sounded like World War 2. We tried but this was brain surgery as far we were concerned and we told him we were shutting the valve and he could figure it out. Long story short, they hired a heating contractor because the needle trade honcho was gonna sue, don't ya know. The lowly apprentice was sent out to lend a hand and I knew it was going to be a long day when I arrived and all I could hear was laughter, The guys from the steam outfit were actually nice to me because they knew it wasn't my doing. The litany of mistakes Mr.Wonderful made were, globe valves on steam, no swing joints, offsetting the pipe so it could expand out square once the steam came on, never ever open a 100 psig main quickly, and pipe the steam trap in so the inlet was not being used as the outlet. Okay!!! That was the last steam job we did and Mr. Perfect argued with the foreman of the heating shop because he was an engineer and he knew everything. I can't repeat what the steam guy said; Erin would bar me for life. Stay Well and Be Blessed Jack


    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,302
    I have herd years ago about a new gas fired roof top unit that they piped the gas into the condensate drain outlet on the unit.

    Ran into a former co worker the other day and he just found the same thing on a brand new job.

    Of course most inspectors around here don't do roofs so there's that

    Some people ain't too smart
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,390
    Look, we all make misteaks.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,602
    edited July 2021
    It seems like some people just work harder at making them.
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,865
    I think we've all made our share of silly mistakes. I know I have, like as a 2nd year apprentice they had me installing a dual temp hydronic air handler on a rooftop by myself and that stupid threaded port on the bottom was sucking air on startup so I screwed a cap on it. That's how I found out just how much condensate a 24x60 supply duct will hold.

    But also, years later, I was working in a government complex where the boiler house was separate from all the other buildings and all piping was in underground tunnels. I'd worked with the building's boiler operator one morning to get one leg shut down so I could weld a 4" flange on a steam main in a building roughly 800 feet away. Got it welded, valve and blind flange bolted on, and met with the operator back in the boiler house to open it back up. He offered to take care of it while I walked 800ft through the 2ft wide tunnel back to my valve. Well, when I was about 3/4 of the way back I heard a ruckus behind me and turned around to see the 75 year old 4" Schedule 40 steam pipe (10psi) slithering like a snake right toward me and hitting both walls of the tunnel. So I ran for the exit and made it just in time, but definitely needed some new shorts. The "operator" was already sitting at the exit on his golf cart waiting for me. Just cranked that gate valve wide open and took off. Some words were said...
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
    The wonder of steam at any pressure can suprise most knowledgeable of us. Steam is a compressible gas. When it expands 1700 times in volume in and enclosed space we can get the suprise of a life time ayt ant pressure.