Over the past few years, I have watched new techniques evolve in our profession, along with new equipment that offers higher efficiencies.
Think about the controls that help pinpoint service-related issues on most types of heating and cooling equipment.
On the A/C side, think of how far this industry has come. An example is mini-splits. Most manufacturers have developed new systems that offer higher seasonal energy efficiency ratings (SEER) and are more serviceable. It seems that mini-splits have become the bread and butter of the air conditioning business. Metal duct systems have become almost extinct, I’m told, except in new construction.
What has made mini-splits so popular?
The answers I hear are that they are easier and faster to install, can provide zoning in all rooms, they are remotely controlled, and they are efficient and extremely quiet.
In plumbing, I’m hearing from several contractors that they are moving away from the standard L- or M-type tubing installations and are now installing polyethylene cross-linked tubing, better known as Pex. When I ask why the change, the answer is: It’s simple to install, there are not as many joints, and it can be used for both plumbing and heating applications.
Many contractors also say that it’s less expensive. One drawback that I do hear regarding heat type Pex, is that it’s harder to make a straight run, requires special tools and clamps, and sagging can be an issue. Every contractor I spoke with mentioned that training is a must and that the manufacturers often hold training at their facilities or at local supply houses. When it comes to calculating radiant heating for a job, many of the supply houses have an inside radiant specialist who can offer their expertise when figuring a radiant heat job.
After reading to this point, you may be wondering how the headline fits in. Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, I’ve watched many new trade-related techniques evolve, including the growing use of ProPress tools on fittings and valves that range in sizes from ½” to 4.”
When I talked to several plumbing, heating and general contractors about why they are using the tools, I found that each contractor seemed to have specific reasons. To name a few: time savings; the finished job is more presentable; no soldering is required; there is no worry of fire, and so burn injuries are not a concern; the tools are easier to use when repairing a pipe that still has water in it; and the tools can be used in tight areas.
I’ve also asked about the down side, and the responses from some contractors mostly had to do with cost of the tools and fittings, and that training is a must. I’m also told the lack of deburring the tubing can damage an O ring, resulting in a fitting leak.
If all this is new to you, and you want training, I suggest that you talk with your supplier or salesman to find out when and where the next Pex/ProPress training programs are. Keep in mind that these types of products are now being used in new applications, such as gas.
On a closing note, be watching for the new member of the Beckett Corp.’s CleanCut oil pump family, being introduced.