Arkansas HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

Published by Arkansas HVACR Association

News Magazine May 2022

Arkansas’ First and Only HVACRNewsMagazine

According to,

NWTI Receives Scholarship Seed and Digital / Bluetooth Equipment page 14

the average Arkansas regular gas price is now $3.799. A year ago, $2.68. A year ago diesel was $2.93 — now $5.012. Now this is out of date. It’s even higher. Page 12

The place to Learn the Latest Code Issues page 6

Association Wraps Up 15 Classes for Blower Door & Duct Blaster Training page 24

Static Pressure

The Energy Conservatory Offers $300 Trade In page 28 CEE Continuing Education Expo s Coming this Fall All 4 hours of required training in one afternoon page 6

Why Measure It Page 47

An Epic Article in Refrigerant Leak Detection

Page 32


For Arkansans

Table of Contents

Chapter Meeting Schedule

PG 4

Editorial & Opinion Lunch & Learn — A Place to Learn the Latest

pg 6


PG 12

Somebody ’ s Got to Pay

Education News NWTI Receives $1,000 Seed for HVACR Scholarships

PG 14

PG 31

Training Programs

State, national, chapter news Continuing Education Expos to Meet CE Requirement

PG 16

On Line License Renewal

pg 18

DET (Duct & Envelope Testing) Verifier

PG 24

Old Manometer Upgrade

PG 28

Tech News

PG 32

Refrigerant Leak Detection: An Epic Article

PG 46

Super Training Videos

PG 47

Static Pressure: Why Measure It

Whether Tool Belt or Untucked Office The Future Looks Good for HVAC

pg 30 PG 33 pg 36

chapter meetings

Central Chapter 4 th Tuesday

Oct 25 Nov 22 Feb 23 March 23 April 25

6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program Location: To Be Announced

Fort Smith Chapter 1 st Tuesday

Oct 4 Nov 1 Dec 6

5:30 Meal : 6:00 Program Location : Golden Corral 1801 South Waldon Road Fort Smith 479-484-1040

Jan 3 Feb 7 March 7 April 4

Hot Springs Chapter 2 nd Tuesday 6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program Location: Smokin’ in Style BBQ 2278 Albert Pike Hot Springs 501-767-9797 North Central Chapter 4 th Thursday 6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program Location : Rotates North Ark College, Harrison El Chico in Mountain Home

Oct 11 Nov 8 Feb14 March 14 April 11

Oct 27 Jan 26 Feb 23 March 23 April 27

chapter meetings

Northeast Chapter 3 rd Tuesday

Oct 18 Nov 15 Feb 21 March 21 April 18

6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program Location : Golden Corral 2405 East Highland Jonesboro 870/ 351-3212

Northwest Chapter 2 nd Thursday

Oct 13 Nov 10 Feb 9 March 9 April 13

6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program Location: Golden Corral 2605 Pleasant Crossing Drive Rogers 479/986-9201 South Central/ Camden 1 st Thursday 6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program Location: Rotates Call for a meeting location Camden / El Dorado

Oct 6 Nov 3 Feb 2 March 2 April 6 Call for meeting Location 501-487-8655

Southwest / Texarkana 3 rd Thursday 6:00 Meal : 6:30 Program

Oct 20 Nov 17 Feb 16 March 16 April 20

Location: Big Jakes 1521 Arkansas Blvd

Texarkana, AR 870/774-0099

News Magazine May 2022

As people learn about the webcast, there are lots of positive comments on the value. Where else would you learn about electrical wiring clear space for condensers. That was the first program and the Chief Electrical Inspector gave us insight and reasoning. Other topics have included: fire protection in crawl spaces, 90+ furnace condensation, access & clearance for both residential and commercial, combustion ventilation, and registrant process for hiring a felon. The webcast is conversational and directly related to the contractor, installer, and technician in the field. The banter between the hosts makes it friendly and inclusive. Even the Section Chief, Lindsay Moore, sometimes adds to the conversation and clears the air on program process issues. In addition to the prepared topics, a few listener questions can be fielded and answered by Tony Woodard. That is an important point, the opinions are from the Chief Inspector for the Arkansas Mechanical program. Sort of the last word in code interpretation. It makes learning code much easier and authoritative. Topics are chosen from what is new to what needs to be reviewed. All inspectors, municipal and state, see the errors we are making and can point us in the right direction. It becomes a partnership of providing education so we can better serve our homeowners and businesses.

The Place to Learn the Latest in Code Issues

Noon on the 2 nd Monday Each Month

Sometimes brainstorms and ideas turn into an epiphany. In September 2020, the idea of having a way to reach the industry on issues of code and other important topics was floated. The consensus was positive and the Southwest chapter president suggested noon — thus the Lunch and Learn was born. Tony Woodard, Chief Inspector, and Lindsay Moore, Section Chief of Labor and Licensing, agreed and the program rolled out October 2020. May 2022 was the 20 th of which 15 are available on the Association website, > scroll down past the landing picture and look to the right. Click on the Lunch & Learn logo to access the available past issues. OK! Why only 15 of the 20. That would be the learning curve of the co- host. He’s s till working on making it more professional. Lunch & Learn is a webcast via ZOOM on the second Monday of each month at noon. The programs are then edited for time and uploaded on YouTube. Lunch & Learn is a labor of love and commitment to the HVACR industry. May not seem like it, but programs take up a lot of time for both the Chief Inspector and the Association Director. Though each is only 20 to 30 minutes, it takes 16+ hours to plan, produce, present, edit and upload; but the effect is consequential.

News Magazine May 2022


“ Somebody ’ s Got to Pay ” Let’s be honest. We all want something for nothing. A bargain isn’t a bargain until we feel that the other guy lost and we won. Well, that may be taking it a bit far but the issue is to realize that nothing is free. Everything has a price tag and someone has to pay for it. The problem for HVAC guys is that they are good guys. They want to help people and will frequently lower their price to help someone in need — a retired couple, a single mom, a person that is apparently down on their luck. While that may be laudable, if you give away too much, then there will be no company left to help anyone including your employees, you, and your family. We also hate to raise prices. It is a decision that is gut wrenching to most HVAC owners. We know that everything is going up and we don’t want to be the next commodity or service that families can’t afford. AND we all know that HVAC system pricing has gone through the roof. Hasn’t everything. We could talk about equipment, metal, and insulation. It is unimaginable that dealer costs have gotten so high and passing those costs along to consumers is truly a stressful process. This article focuses on one cost and the idea is to put a number to our moaning about the price increase — GASOLINE. My word, who would have ever thought that we’d see such a huge percentage of increase in such a short time.

According to,, the average Arkansas regular gas price is now $3.799. A year ago, $2.68. If you have diesel vehicles, you might note that a year ago the average price was $2.931 while today you are paying


Obviously, you’ve been paying your credit card bill and cringing at the way it has gone up. Some HVAC contractors are hoping that “this too shall pass” and are absorbing the increase. Others have thought it through and realized that the cost is significant to their bottom line. Let’s take a look at what price increases are doing to you. How many miles do your service trucks travel each week. That varies a lot on whether you are in a rural area or urban.

News Magazine May 2022


Even so, it is not uncommon for an urban contractor to travel 20 or 30 miles between calls . Let’s be conservative and use 25. It also depends on your vehicle mileage. I hear anywhere from 12 to 18 miles a gallon. The older your fleet, the less mpg. Let’s take a middle road and say 15. Now, how many calls per day do you make 4, 5, 10. Again, let’s take a middle ground and say 6. That means your service vehicle travels 150 miles per day; but we also have to add in the miles it travels if the tech takes it home. Again, let’s be conservative and say they only live 25 miles away and travel 50 commuting miles per day total. We’re now u p to 200 miles per day. The following chart demonstrates how much more a HVAC contractor is paying for gas in May 2022 compared to April 2021.

When you look at the previous chart, you can see that each service truck could be costing you up to $3,468 or perhaps even more in INCREASED fuel cost. By the way, the numbers on diesel are double that amount. So, what are you to do? Well you can — • Hope that prices go down and o Explain to your employees why they don’t get a raise o Explain to your wife and kids why the vacation is cut back or even out • Raise your price to your customers via o Add a trip fuel charge onto your bills o Add it to your hourly rate If raising prices scares you, now might be a good time to adopt flat rate pricing. It covers you in times like these. Whatever you do, make sure you understand that

Avg Mileage to Call

# Calls

Daily Call Miles

Commute Miles (25 miles x 2)

Total Daily Miles

Annual Miles 50,000

Gal Gas









Regular Gas Prices, Arkansas

Cost Comparison

# Service Trucks

# Gal Gas 3,125

Increase Cost











$3,468 $6,936 $10,404 $13,872 $17,325

the consequences of doing nothing could be devasting to your bottom line and your ability to grow your company, reward your employees, and give your family what they deserve for all the extra hours

What hurts even more is that gas in April 2021 was already $1 per gallon more than it was in April 2020. That is not a totally fair comparison because we were in the throws of the pandemic and everything was shutting down and the economy was in a nose dive. Now to be totally honest and not use numbers to manipulate a point rather than make a point, the national average for regular gas over the past ten years is $2.80. You can check me out at

you spend owning a company. It’s a tough decision but that is why you get paid the big bucks.

National Price of Gasoline 2012 to 2022

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HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

education News

training in the future. Funding came through the Association and the Department of Occupational Skills Development as part of a Train the Trainer program in the fall of 2021. As stated in their Vision, Northwest Technical Institute is dedicated to empowering diverse

NWTI Receives $1,000 Student Scholarship plus Equipment Eric Schein, instructor; Dr. Jim Rollins, President; and Michael Dewberry, Director of Apprenticeship and Workforce Training; received a $1,000.00 check from the Arkansas HVACR Association as seed money to build a scholarship fund for students attending the NWTI HVACR program. Dr. Rollins is an important supporter of HVACR education as well as hosts Arkansas HVACR Association schools at NWTI facilities. He frequently says “ It is a Partnership. ” The funds were a “ Thank You Gift ” made possible by Instructor Eric Schein including “ Residential

student populations to realize their potential by providing quality and affordable life-changing learning experiences in a safe environment. The philosophy of the postsecondary career and technical schools in the State of Arkansas is to serve the training needs of all individuals who wish to enter a recognized occupation or, for those who have already entered an occupation, to upgrade or update their occupational skills and knowledge so that they may achieve stability or advancement in employment and to provide academic

instructions so that they may attain advancement or create for themselves a better life .

Commissioning: The Arkansas Model ” into one of his classes. This program teaches the importance of digital tools in assuring the capacity and efficiency of installed HVAC systems. It is the future of the HVAC industry so his students have an advantage as they enter the workforce. In addition to the scholarship gift, the Association also presented NWTI with over $3,400.00 in digital and blue tooth tools to help Instructor, Eric Schein, continue the

For more information, click on the NWTI logo below.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

The Expos will be 5 hours in length so a licensee will be able to complete the required 4 hours of continuing

An Opportunity That Is Finally OURS Continuing Education Expos

We worked hard as an industry for two decades to institute continuing education. Why? Because we believed that it would help our industry be more professional in our knowledge and in the way we run our businesses — protecting Arkansas home- owners and businesses. That would in turn make our industry more responsive to new technology and more careful about health and safety issues that are inherent to HVACR work. Well, we have it. Beginning July 1, 2022, the Department of Labor and Licensing HVACR Department will begin accepting applications for continuing education classes. These can be provided by manufacturers, distributors, colleges, training organizations, online providers, as well as the Arkansas HVACR Association. The HVACR chief inspector will approve the applications based on the curriculum, the instructor, as well as their ability to report the results. Actual review of CE completion will be implemented January 1, 2023; so to renew ones license will require proof of CE completion. With that in mind, the Arkansas HVACR Association has an ambitious goal of providing a minimum of 8 Continuing Education Expos this fall and again next spring. These Continuing Education Expos, CEEs, will be larger meetings to accommodate the need to make continuing education readily available, convenient, and affordable to Arkansas HVACR licensees.

education in one afternoon.

The Expo will format as follows: Noon — lunch and introductions 1:00 to 3:00--Break Out Sessions

Expos will be held in each of the Association Chapter service areas to minimize travel. Others may also be offered if the need arises. Schedules will be determined over the summer with locations depending on availability of space. This will be a large undertaking and we ’ ll need the help of hosting partners. Our goal is to host most of them in partnership with the local HVACR training program. CEEs are tentatively planned for late October or early November and then late January or early February. Attendees completing the entire four hours will receive a certificate from the Association and the HVACR Department will be notified of their completion. Topics covering technical and business issues of importance to licensees will be provided by experts in their field. These will accommodate about 25 each and the number of breakouts will depend on the total enrolled. These sessions will be submitted for approval by the Licensing Program. 3:00 to 5:00 — Code Training Inspectors will provide code training on topics that may be new or that just need refreshing.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

License Renewal Notice Example

Renewing Your License On- line You may getting one of these reminders that your license is about to expire. As the bottom of the notice says, “please detach the bottom portion of this notice and mail it with your payment.” Well in a world with fully staffed offices, that would be great. This notice was dated 41 days in advance so there should be plenty of time for you to use the mail; however, the HVACR office is not fully staffed. The office is overworked and always under pressure, so let ’ s help out and RENEW ON LINE. There is no reference to online renewal on your notice but it exists and will make your life so much better. It is Easy and Really Quick — maybe two to three minutes and the proof of renewal is immediate.

We’ll walk you through the process and you’ll see why even those of us that have been around for a while will love the opportunity to renew and have evidence of the renewal in a few minutes. Beats the heck out of the mail or pleading with the HVACR office for help. They can only do so much. OK! First and super important. You cannot renew online unless you are doing so in the month that the renewal is due. In the above example, the expiration is May 31. You cannot renew online before May 1. Some kind of strange coding in the program and there

is no announcement on your renewal notice. If you get the notice in the month before it is due and jump to renew, you’re out of luck and don’t know why. In fact, you’ll be told that there is no record of your license. Very frustrating. Now that you know, remember---

To renew online

You must do so in the month that your license expires.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

Second, and actually before you find out you must renew in the month of expiration, you have to go online. I suggest that you google Arkansas HVACR license renewal . That will take you to the large

HVAC License Individual Renewal Link

Click Here to Access the AR HVACR License Renewal Link

This is what you’ll see . Enter your license number and select your license class from the drop down

Third. The next screen is “Licensee Information”. Double check the information and make changes as necessary Click “Continue”.

License Number

License Class

First Name

Middle Name

Enter your license #

Last Name

Click here and select your license class “A”, “B”, etc.


Select “Continue”



Licensee Information Double Check and Make Changes

Zip Code

Select “Continue”

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

Fourth, Review your information and “ continue to payment ” .

Review your information and continue to payment

Select “Continue”

Fifth , you’re at GovPay. It will reflect the amount that is appropriate for your license. You’ll note the $7.00 service charge that GovPay collects. Just part of the cost of doing business —

About 3.5% on an “A” lice nse.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

Sixth, fill in your credit card information and select “Next” .

Seventh, you’ll get a reCAPTCHA, “I am not a robot” page. Click and select “Submit Payment”.

Eighth , you’ll get a GovPay information screen . Review and click “ continue ” .

Your Email Receipt. Use this until the new license arrives.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

In addition to duct testing, Verifiers are also trained on basic blower door use. The primary reason is to prepare them to test duct leakage to the outside at final should total leakage fail. The concept is that the primary concern is energy / heated or air conditioned air not be wasted to the outside. Leakage to the inside may not go to its intended location but is not lost. Verifiers are discouraged from performing weatherization work as they are not trained in Combustion Air Zone, CAZ, safety. Again, that is not the focus of the DET Verifier class. If they do have an opportunity to weatherize, they are encouraged not to perform any air sealing unless combustion and ventilation air is provided to combustion appliances; i.e., furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers. Confined space calculations to avoid ventilation are not to be used. On completion of the upcoming NWACC class in Bentonville, the Association will have partnered with Energy Efficiency Arkansas to provide 15 classes during fall 2021 and spring 2022 and certified 136+ Verifiers. Students complete a two day class and successfully pass a 92 question test with a passing grade of 70% or higher.

May 17 & 18 at NWACC, the Arkansas HVACR Association will complete the 5 th blower door and duct blaster class during this spring. The classes are now referred to as DET, Duct & Envelope Testing. The term was coined by Southface Institute in Atlanta, Georgia who leads the Southeast in energy efficiency design and training. The classes incorporate training materials provided by Southface but are modified to meet the needs of Arkansas, thus the Arkansas Model. The program teaches to the standard established in the Arkansas Energy Office 2021 stakeholder meetings. Standards will adjust should the Energy Office make changes. The Arkansas Model refers to education and training that reflects the vision of the Arkansas HVACR Association for pragmatic practice in HVACR and related trades. The DET Verifier class is aimed at HVAC personnel who want to test their own duct for air leakage. While some say this is “ the fox in the hen house ” , self- verification of leakage expedites the process and reduces the cost, thus making duct tests more acceptable for contractor and homeowner. Students are cautioned that no “ fudging ” will be tolerated and that their Verification status will be revoked immediately should they be less than totally honest in their testing. Program credibility depends on verification validity so the Association will not tolerate any deviation.

TEC, The Energy Conservatory, offers class completers a 7.5% discount on their equipment should they purchase a blower door and or duct blaster.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022 State National Chapter News

To register for the DET Verifier Course at NWACC in Bentonville on May 17 & 18, CLICK ANYWHERE ON THE FOLLOWING GRAPHIC.

Only $200 for the first person and $100 for the second.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

Attention: Old Manometer Upgrade The HVACR Association is just finishing up 5 DET (Duct & Envelope Testing) training sessions. With the help of “Energy Efficiency Arkansas” during the fall 2021 and spring 2022, the Association will have trained over 135 Verifiers, persons that trained and passed a comprehensive exam. Most of these 135 are new to leakage testing and need to purchase equipment. As a reward for successfully completing the training, the Energy Conservatory is offering these Verifiers a 7 ½ % discount on their equipment purchase. Of course there is a time limit. However, many in Arkansas completed training years ago when the Energy Office was offsetting the cost of Building Performance Institute training. At that time they purchased blower doors and or duct blasters that came with the DG-700, a cool tool for its time. Since then, technology has taken a giant leap forward with the introduction of the Energy Conservatory DG-1000 manometer. To help those who were previously trained, TEC, The Energy Conservatory, is offering a $300 trade in for anyone wishing to upgrade from the DG-700 to the DG- 1000. At $1,695.00, a $300 trade in is welcome help. As we move toward duct testing of new construction homes, it would behoove those with DG-700s to consider the upgrade with the $300.00 discount. On the next page, we’ ve including TEC’s promotional material and trade in application form.

Mother’s Day

The U.S. Census Bureau just published interesting data about mothers and their children. Children living with a “ mother only ” is the second most common U. S. living arrangement, a number that has doubled since 1968. The number is now 15.3 million. That tells us the HVACR industry has an opportunity to be sensitive to the needs of these moms and their children. They need compassion and understanding for the pressures of raising children, working, and running a home. They need someone to work on their heat and air systems on their schedule. It is doubly hard for them to take off work. No, it isn’t easy for the HVAC contractor but it is a huge market and an opportunity to serve the community.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

State National Chapter News

The Energy Conservatory DG-700 to DG-1000 Trade In Offer

Summer’s Coming

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Amessage fromEntergy $UNDQVDV ,LLC.©2019EntergyServices, LLC.All Rights Reserved. The Entergy Solutions program is an energy efficiency program and not affiliated with Entergy Solutions,LLC

S tate, National, Chapter News Education News

NWTI Business & Industry 709 Old Missouri Rd., Springdale, Arkansas 72764 Michael Dewberry: 479-751-8824 SAU Tech 6415 Spellman Rd, East Camden, AR 71701 Roland Walters : 870-574-4500 Southeast Arkansas College 1900 Hazel Street, Pine Bluff, AR 71603 John Pyland : 870-543-5900 UACC Hope / Texarkana 2500 South Main, Hope 71802 Leo Rateliff : 870-722-8507 UACC Morrilton 1537 University Blvd., Morrilton, AR 72110 Carroll Chism: 3000 West Scenic Drive, NLR 72206 Robert Dixon : 501-812-2200 UA Monticello / Crossett 1326 Hwy 52W, Crossett, AR 71635 William Campbell : 870-460-2010 (501) 977-2053 UA Pulaski Tech If you are a college or technical institute and want to be included in the list of HVACR education providers, contact the NewsMagazine 501-487-8655 We’ll make sure you are in the next issue. Also, if we need to correct your information, please let us know. Add Your Name

Training Programs

Arkansas North Eastern College 4213 Main Street, Blytheville 72315 Rick Sones : 870-763-6222 Arkansas Tech University, Ozark 1700 Helberg Lane, Ozark, AR 72949 Kenneth Beeler : 479-508-3333 ASU Mountain Home 4034 Hwy 63 W, Mountain Home 72653 Eric Smith : 870-508-6221 ASU Newport 33500 US 63, Marked Tree 72365 Mark Constant : 870-358-8627 ASU Searcy Newcastle Road, Forrest City, AR 72335 Robert Jackson : 870-633-5411 National Park College 101 College Drive, Hot Springs, 71913 Pam Castleberry : 501-760-4393 North Arkansas Community College 1320 Nort Spring Road, Harrison, AR 72601 Jeff Smith : 870-391-3382 Northwest Arkansas Community College One College Drive, Bentonville, AR 71712 A.J. Hart : 479-936-5108 1800 East Moore Avenue, Searcy Brad Cooper: 501-207-6221 East Arkansas Community College

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

Tech News

Refrigerant Leak Detection and Prevention: Epic Article Let’s face it, refrigerant leak detection and prevention will always be important in our trade. Whether we’re dealing with leaks from corrosion or poor connections, we will always run into them in some form. We’ve touched on refrigerant leak prevention and detection quite a lot at HVAC School. Many of our articles, podcasts, and videos cover electronic leak detectors, brazing best practices, flaring tools, and even the likely cause of mini-split line set leaks. However, this article will serve as the refrigerant leak prevention and detection master guide. You can expect to find all of the basics of brazing, flaring, nitrogen pressure testing, bubble testing, and electronic leak detection, as well as many sources of more advanced material.

leak rate of a mere ounce over several years. Think about how tiny a molecule is; many of them could slip through a leak of the same width as a strand of hair. However, leaks can worsen over time. Stress sources like high temperatures, corrosion, and vibration can cause leaks to worsen over time. The goal of leak detection is to find significant leaks, especially in cases where a system performs poorly or where the EPA-mandated leak rate is exceeded. Once we understand the objectives of leak detection, we can focus on serving customers to the best of our abilities, not pressuring ourselves to reach an impossible standard.

Preventive practices: brazing or soldering

Caveat: everything leaks

We will never see a 100% leak-proof system. Everything leaks a little bit, if even only at the microscopic level. Although we may not see leaks with the naked eye, there may be microscopic flaws in the metal that allow for a

Brazing allows us to make a system clean, dry, and tight from the beginning. As with pretty much everything else we do, it’s a skill that requires lots of practice and refinement. However, there are some best practices that

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

Tech News

anyone can use to reduce the likelihood of leaky joints.

There’s a difference between brazing and soldering, even though the practices are similar. Soldering refers to the bonding of metals at a temperature below 840°F; we braze at temperatures above that threshold. Metals with low melting points, like aluminum, should have soldered connections and patches instead of brazed ones. Copper has a relatively high melting point, so we typically braze it. Before you even think about picking up your torch kit, you must ensure that your copper is prepared for brazing. That means that you’ll have to clean it, deburr it, and make sure the fitment is tight. To avoid getting burrs and shavings into the copper, be sure to sand the copper down before you cut it. If you sand the copper AFTER it’s been cut, you may get tiny shavings into the tubing, which may result in restrictions. When you cut your copper, you will want to get an even, clean cut with a proper tubing cutter. A jagged cut will make for a lower- quality connection, so you’ll want to make sure the cut is straight and make many slow rotations with your cutter. You will also have to deburr or ream your copper. When you do that, be sure to have the copper angled downward so that the burr falls out of the tubing, not back into it. Once you have prepared your copper tubing, try fitting it into the place where you will braze the joint. If you have too much of a gap between the two, you may have to use Preparing your copper for brazing

bushings or reducers to make the copper fit together.

Choosing the proper alloy, flux, and brazing rod

The alloy you choose will depend on the base metals; copper-to-aluminum brazing or soldering requires a different alloy than copper-to-copper brazing. However, in any case, all alloys should have good flow, be as ductile as possible, and have a melting point well below the lowest melting point of the base metal(s) you’re joining. The more ductile an alloy is, the more flexible it will be under stress. high-silver alloys tend to be more ductile, which is why 15% silver alloys are generally more desirable than 5%. (You can even find alloys with up to 56% silver.) Brazing rods are made of alloys and may or may not contain flux. Flux may be channeled inside the rods, coated on the rods, or come in an external form that you apply at the joint, and it prevents oxides from forming on the base metal during heating. When you have an external flux that needs to be applied straight to the base metal, lightly coat ONLY the male end of the tubing. Some fluxes are also corrosive, so you’ll want to wipe the flux away with a wet towel after you’ve finished brazing.

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

Tech News

In cases where you are brazing copper only, you will want to make sure you have a flux- coated phosphorus-bearing rod. In this copper-to-copper application, the phosphorus acts as the fluxing agent, so no additional flux is required.

Brazing or soldering metals other than copper

When you are brazing steel or brass, you do NOT want to use an alloy that contains phosphorus. Instead, use a flux either applied onto the base metal or contained in or on the rod. When brazing steel, use a flux-coated rod with high silver content (45-56%); you may also consider using an external paste flux if you don’t have flux -coated rods. Brass also works well with high-silver flux-coated rods, though you may alternatively use external chemical flux. special consideration. When bonding copper to aluminum, use a special rod for that metal combination, as the difference in properties of aluminum and copper requires special care. AL-COP by Solderweld is an example of a good brazing rod for copper-to-aluminum bonding. When you braze, you heat the base metal rapidly, which can cause oxides (or a blackish scale) to form when the metal reacts with oxygen at a high temperature. Oxides also weaken the bonds and can cause potential leak issues down the line, so we can displace the oxygen inside the system lines by flowing nitrogen while we braze. Dissimilar metals will have Flowing nitrogen

HVACR NewsMagazine May 2022

Tech News

a proper striker when lighting your torch; cigarette lighters, matches, and butane grill lighters are potentially more dangerous.

Flame type and appearance

You should have a neutral or slightly carburizing flame. That means that the oxygen and acetylene content should be pretty balanced. A neutral flame will have a white cone in the middle of the blue flame, and there may be a VERY SLIGHT cyan secondary feather. A carburizing flame has a large cyan secondary feather around the white cone.

Before we flow nitrogen, we will first want to purge the lines to chase everything out of them. You can use a flow regulator to purge the lines, usually at a rate of 20-100 standard cubic feet per hour (SCFH). Flowing requires us to move a lot less nitrogen, as your typical flow rate will be 2- 5 SCFH or just a whisper of nitrogen. Although brazing rods and fluxes are critical, the success of a braze job depends on how well we heat the base metal. If we don’t heat the base metal properly, we may fail to draw the alloy into the joint and create a proper seal. To heat the base metal properly, we need to make sure our torch rigs, flames, and brazing practices are sufficient. First of all, we have to pay attention to our torch rigs. Many of us will be using an oxyacetylene torch (though some people may use air-acetylene). In the case of the oxyacetylene torch, you must have just the right mix of oxygen and acetylene, typically five and five or ten and ten. In many cases, you can light the acetylene first and then bring on the oxygen after you have a flame. Only use Proper torch use Preparing the torch rig

In any case, you will want to avoid an oxidizing flame, which has a very short white cone in the center and no secondary feather. These flames are oxygen-heavy, meaning that they could react with the copper and cause a black scale to form. That black scale is called cupric oxide, which can lead to restrictions if it’s inside the copper. You can help prevent the buildup of cupric oxide by flowing nitrogen while brazing.

Heating the joint properly

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Avoid moving the torch around too much when applying heat to the joint. Many inexperienced techs are afraid of burning through the base metal while brazing. As a result, they wave the torch too much and don’t get the base metal hot enough to draw the alloy into the joint. (Copper should be 1200- 1300 degrees and turn a dark or medium cherry red color before you apply the brazing rod.) To protect nearby valves, bulbs, and tubing insulation from heat damage, we can cover them in wet towels or heat-blocking putty (like Refrigeration Technologies WetRag).

Wait for the joint to cool off on its own for at least 20 seconds before applying a wet towel to it. If you apply a cold, wet towel too soon after the braze job, you may end up stressing the metal. After you cool the joint, you can apply a bubble solution and use a mirror to look for imperfections around the joint. You may notice some black scale or dried flux around the joint; clean that off with a rag. Once you’ve cleaned and cooled the tubing properly, you may begin preparing for your pressure test.

Finishing up a braze job

Leak preventive practices: proper flaring

When the alloy gets drawn into the joint, it will ideally create a nice seal around the joint. It doesn’t have to look like a perfect cap, but that’s what many people try to go for because it’s functional and looks nice.

We often have to make flares in the field, especially for ductless installs. However, flares are notoriously common leak points, so we have to look closely at our best flaring practices to ensure that we do all we can to prevent leaks.

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Preparing the copper

Then, you can deburr the copper. Again, make sure you keep the end of the tubing facing down as you deburr so that the burr and any copper shavings fall out of the tube, not into it. There may be times when you can’t deburr copper in the downward position because of the way it’s attached to the system. If you can’t bend the copper downward, you may attempt to deburr the copper and then use a refrigerant line cleaner to send a foam pig

As with brazing, you also have to make sure your copper is clean, cut squarely, and ready for flaring before you actually make a flare. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the copper is squarely cut. If you need to cut the copper, clean it first. I don’t trust factory - made flares and don’t recommend you do it either, so I typically clean the copper past the flare and cut it off to start fresh.

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through the lines to blow out any debris. If you don’t have a means of blowing the burr out, then you’re better off not deburring at all. While it’s good to deburr the copper, try not to overdo it. If you get a little overzealous, you risk thinning out the copper and making a low-quality flare that may crack. To flare the copper, you’ll need to use a flaring tool, whether that be an old-school flaring block, a handheld tool, SPIN drill bits, or a cordless automatic flaring tool. Before flaring the copper with ANY tool, make sure you get the flare nut on. Otherwise, you’ll probably have a hard time getting it on after the flare has been made! Flaring tools

sure you’ve set the proper depth. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to aim to bring the copper up just a dime’s width above the block to get the proper depth.

Handheld flaring tools

You may also use a handheld flaring tool, something many technicians swear by. These are generally more user-friendly than the flaring blocks, as many have depth

stoppers. However, it’s still possible to overdo your flares if

Flaring blocks

you tighten them down too much. (Although some flare tools, like the Hilmor 1838952, have a ratcheting mechanism that stops the flare process before you can overtighten them. Basically, an orbital cone rolls the flare cone onto the end of the pipe.) When making a flare manually with a block or handheld tool, you may want to add just a drop of refrigerant oil or assembly lubricant to make the surface really smooth.

Flaring blocks are tried-and-true tools that will get the job done, but they also make it easy to mess up if you don’t know what you’re doing. By that, I mean that you’ll need to make

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SPIN flaring tools

A rather innovative product is the SPIN flaring tool that attaches to a drill. You basically insert the bit into the copper and run your drill. The friction against the side of the copper will create heat,

which anneals the copper (making it more ductile or “soft”). With the copper softened, the spinning action can create a flare, though not at a perfect angle. However, SPIN claims that the annealed copper is so soft that the flare nut can set the angle right; we’ve tried this method many times and have gotten consistently good flares. When using the SPIN flaring tool, be sure to wear gloves. The annealing process makes copper hot to the touch, so you’ll want to protect your hands.

NAVAC has an excellent cordless flaring tool, the NEF6LM. Many of us at Kalos use it to make flares for ductless units, and it makes the job so much easier. You can also put a dab of mineral oil or assembly lubricant (like Refrigeration Technologies Nylog) on the cone of the cordless flaring tool to get a smooth, round, burnished flare. Once you’ve made your flare, check to see how the flare nut fits over it. You should be able to see the inside of the flare, and the nut shouldn’t get its threads caught on the flare’s edge. Before assembling the connection, touch the flare to the mating surface and see how it fits. If you rotate the flare slowly as it touches the surface, you shouldn’t feel any major bumps or irregularities. Once you’re sure that you’ll get a solid connection, you can add just a drop of non-hardening thread sealant to the threads and mating surface to get a nice, tight connection. Be careful not to over-lubricate the threads, as you may put yourself at risk of overtightening the flare nut when you tighten it down with a torque wrench. Putting a dab of oil between the nut and flare cone also helps Assembling the flared connection

Cordless flaring tools

Some people may call this last method “cheating,” but there are battery-powered flaring tools that allow you to insert the copper, press a button, and then wait a few seconds for the perfect

flare. These tools typically come with depth stoppers and control the torque, so you pretty much just have to press a button and watch the magic happen.

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reduce the chance of the nut spinning the tube when tightening.

When you’re ready to begin assembling everything, hold the flare to the mating surface and tighten the flare nut over the threads with your fingers. Stop once you get the flare nut finger-tight. Now, it’s time to b ring out your torque wrench. You’ll want to consult the manufacturer’s literature for the recommended torque specs based on the piping diameter. Adjust your wrench to reach the recommended torque (usually in ft-lbs) before you even touch the flare nut. When you use a torque wrench, only apply force to the handle; additional force elsewhere will result in a false reading (and inaccurate torque

applied to the flare nut). Tighten it down according to the torque wrench’s settings and the manufacturer’s specs. With your flare assembly all ready, you can move on to the leak testing and detection phase.

Testing for leaks with a nitrogen pressure test

A standing pressure test with nitrogen lets us see if the system leaks at an unacceptable rate. We can do a standing pressure test before even putting a unit into service, or we can use it to locate leaks on existing systems. You may also need to use a nitrogen pressure calculator when performing long-term tests, especially when you’re dealing with variable temperature conditions. HVAC School has a nitrogen pressure calculator on the “Calculators” page of our website or under “Tools” on the mobile app, shown to the right.

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Doing a visual inspection to find obvious leak indicators

CRTs. It’s best to avoid using manifolds whenever possible, as manifolds create more potential leak points.

First of all, you’ll want to do a thorough visual inspection. If you’ve just installed new copper, you should have already checked each joint with a mirror. However, if you’re working on a system for the first time, check for leak indicators like oil spots. You may also want to bubble-test the Schrader cores (and core removal tools, which we recommend using) to see if they’re leaky. It’s best to put a cap on the Schrader port WITHOUT a seal so that you can check for leaks without spraying bubble solution directly into the Schrader ports. If the cores are leaky, you’ll want to replace those and eliminate them as a potential leak source. Ensure that your caps and hoses have the appropriate seals, as those could be leak points. After you’ve inspected the joints, Schrader ports, and other leak- prone areas, it’s time to hook your hoses up to the Schrader ports by using core remover tools. As said before, make sure these hoses have the proper seals; you can even bubble-test your hoses as well to make sure they aren’t leaky. Once you’ve hooked up your hoses, purge the system by sending nitrogen through the lines. Again, purging is different from flowing, as it typically occurs at a rate anywhere between 20 and 100 SCFH at high pressure, whereas we usually only flow nitrogen at a rate of 2-5 SCFH at low pressure. Then, you can apply your pressure probes to the system. It’s best to use core remover tools and tighten the probes down right at the Preparing the system for a standing pressure test

Pressurizing the system with nitrogen

Typical pressurization rates can be anywhere between 250 and 600 PSI. Since that’s quite a range, you’ll want to look up the manufacturer’s literature and see what the manufacturer recommends exactly. When in doubt, err on the side of caution to avoid over pressurization and causing damage. When you reach the desired pressurization rate, you can valve off nitrogen from the system. (Again, that’s why core removal tools make standing pressure tests so much easier.) After the nitrogen has been valved off from the system, let it stand for at least 30 minutes (the longer, the better; some larger commercial systems should really stand for at least 24 hours). While the system stands, monitor the pressure at the probes. At this point, you may add some leak reactant to the valves, flare fittings, bends, and other common leak areas to see if bubbles form. The pressure test is passed when the nitrogen pressure holds; there should also be no patches of bubbles on the leak reactant. Once you have a pass/fail verdict, you may release the nitrogen and either continue your work or rectify the leak source. If the equipment has failed the standing pressure test, then you need to pinpoint the leak to see what you exactly need to fix.

You may use a couple of different strategies to detect the leak.

Refrigerant leak detection: the bubble test You may do a “bubble test” with a leak reactant to confirm the location and extent of a leak. Chemical leak reactants create bubbles on the tubing’s surface, as the nitrogen that is attempting to escape the

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Refrigerant leak detection: using an electronic leak detector

Electronic leak detectors are portable devices that you can use to “sniff” for leaks in the refrigerant piping or coils, or some types of leak detectors can even “hear” vapor passing through a leak. You will typically see electronic leak detectors come in three main varieties heated diode, infrared, and ultrasonic. Heated diode and infrared leak detectors are designed to pick up a trace amount of

system will be caught in the leak reactant first and show up as bubbles.

As you can see in the image above, smaller leaks show up as little “cocoons” of tiny microbubbles. Larger leaks, like the one on the underside of the line’s center point above, will have bigger, more visible bubbles. If you apply leak reactant to fittings and connections, make sure to apply it to all surfaces and use a mirror to inspect all surfaces for bubbles. When you’ve finished confirming leaks with your leak reactant, you can simply wipe it off all surfaces. We like to use Refrigeration Technologies Big Blu, which can detect leaks with rates as low as 0.5 ounces per year.

refrigerant; those leak detectors can’t detect nitrogen in the lines because nitrogen makes up over 70% of the air in the atmosphere! You can add a tiny amount of refrigerant to the lines if you’ve already recovered the charge or have yet to release the charge in a new system. Ultrasonic leak detection works a bit differently, and you can even use it without adding refrigerant because it doesn’t “sniff” refrigerant.

Heated diode leak detectors

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