What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat. - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-07-2012 Thread Starter
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What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

Are you EPA certified? (must have)

Do you know how to "tap into a system" and install a schrader valve for evacuation and charging?

There are a few ways to accomplish this; Use a "tap valve, or solder a schrader valve on the "process tube" It's a tube that is pinched off at the factory after the charge was weighed in. If the Tech is going to install 2 taps, one on low and one on high. then the tech may be planning of using gauges to charge it.. not the best way on small equipment. Name plate charge type and weight is almost always listed by the MFG.

Do you know how to weigh in refrigerant charges that are less then a pound? Domestic, RV, Marine, small units in general? ( Small systems generally should not be charged by gauge operating pressures) Yes, we all do try to charge by pressure or amps.. and many of us are good at it.. but we know what is "right" and if we don't want call backs we strive to "do it right"
(Charging cylinder works but electronic scales are most accurate.) Charging/Scales | TIF - An SPX Brand
If the service person says something like "I'll just give it a shot" I would not feel very confident in the answer


Are you familiar with small 12/24 volt systems used for marine/RV/solar/domestic?
(this is a big question) "everyone lies" re Dr house

Why did you love Freon 12 so much?
(Because the pressures were very close to the actual temperatures in the system)

What is low, med, high refrigeration?
without being too specific; Low= frozen foods, med = like your home refrigerator, High wine, flowers,

Of course there are hundreds of questions that could be asked. I only wanted to mention a few.

----------------

Air conditioning and heating people generally don't work on refrigeration, those that do; (or used to) like yours truly have made it a point in their career to learn the differences in AC and Refrigeration equipment. and the unique differences in small systems.

"Marine" hvacr. is generally the same as the trade with certain differences, but realize. Not all boat systems are tiny like on most our sailboats where power is a important factor.
Passenger ships for example, have large.. very large systems, just like large high rise or sprawling buildings. Yet even on ships, you may find little dorm size refrigerators in the state rooms the big difference in your systems is size, roughly if you don't have 120/240 volt 24/7 365 your going to most likely have 12/24volt power supplying your equipment.

Not many techs adapt their thinking to small systems. All the principals of mechanical refrigeration apply.. They are just small.. tiny even. 12 and 24 volt power supply is a mystery to many also.. was to me.. and still is, but! I do work at learning about the little 12volt wonders by Danfoss and a couple of other mfgs. that have cornered that market.

Troubleshooting, other then checking wiring, connections, and voltage. It's almost always all about power, the fan, the "module and circuit boards" on just about anything now a days.. those not with it in learning about the "circuit boards" fall behind those that make it a point to know about codes, read outs, thermistors, sensors. etc. Electronics invaded this trade just like automotive many many years ago.

"Just throw on the gauges and check the pressures" AHEM! just the hoses on the gauge set may hold more refrigerant then your unit! Please, please, don't assume the system needs "shot"! No, this is not a "how to" discussion. it's just to help those that feel they need the help from a person in the trade.

Small equipment .. any, mechanical refrigeration and ac system for that matter, should be evacuated with a "deep vacuum pump" (sometimes called "high vacuum" ) "purging" is a big NO on anything making temps below freezing.

You are allowed to ask questions. If you don't feel confidence in the answers (not to be confused with ego) call someone else!

(This is an attempt to help those not feeling qualified to try DIY I'm not in the marine trade and I'm not seeking business fixing marine hvacr systems)

Hope to helps!

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-07-2012
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

I had a wonderful 30 minute discussion with Denise about HVAC at the Rock Creek SailNet Rendezvous this year. I appreciate her tolerance because I had a wonderful time.

sail fast and eat well, dave
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-07-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

thanks Dave! Hope I wasn't rude I don't profess to be a Know it all

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-07-2012
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

Thanks for posting this info, Denise! It's valuable stuff. Those who don't know it all are still a great help to those of us who know less.

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post #5 of 9 Old 07-07-2012
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

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Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
thanks Dave! Hope I wasn't rude I don't profess to be a Know it all
So Denise, any plans for a Florida vacation in the future?

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post #6 of 9 Old 07-07-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

nah.. too hot.. I've always dreamed of going north.. Maine would be nice

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-07-2012
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

Also when your far from home,

Ask if they actually have a supply of the coolant you need to recharge your system, before they arrive and want to charge your for their "time"....

Also if they have a vacuum pump, some folks think that all do is add the damn stuff....

Ask, if they will come back when the system does not work, after they have "fixed it"...and not charge you to fix their own mistakes...


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post #8 of 9 Old 07-08-2012
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

Some good advise Denise, although if someone asked me why I loved "freon 12" so much I would have no idea what they were getting at, and if they went on to ask me if I knew the difference between high, medium and low temp refrigeration I would ask if they did, and why are they asking me such silly questions!

I started out my career in the refrigeration trade with a refrigeration company that did alot of small refrigeration systems. We installed custom 12v systems for a number of local brokers. We didn't bang in the DIY precharged kits that have flooded the market these days. There was no nameplate charge to weigh in! Every system was different, because every lineset was different. We charged a system using pressures and temperatures, with very good results I might add! Please don't assume that a technician is doing something wrong if they don't weigh the charge, because they might actually know what they are doing! The same goes for the use of gauges. You CAN connect them to a system without adversely affecting the charge. If I just want to check pressures I have a set of gauges that connect using a 1" fitting instead of hoses. If I want to connect my charging manifold I use a set with short hoses and I precharge them with a small amount of refrigerant so I don't draw charge out of the system when I connect them.

To add a couple of items to Denise's list:

If the technician determines that the system is low on refrigerant, make sure he or she FINDS the leak and repairs it! The automotive industry has trained the general public that it is normal to have to "top up" your a/c unit. This is wrong! If there is a leak it should be fixed. Some guys love to just squirt some refrigerant into the system and call it fixed. Sure, it keeps the bill low, but it is not fixed!

If they used saddle valves, AKA "piercing valves" to tap into the system make sure they verify that the valves themselves are not leaking. The best practice is to braze in schraeder ports. It may take a little longer, but it is well worth it for leak resistance and future servicing.

The biggest problem I came across was that customers do not want to pay for the time it takes to do the job right. Sailors are notoriously cheap! Some think that just because the wind is free, everything else should be too! I think the day I decided to stop installing sailboat systems was the day I was quoting a custom install on a 45ft boat, and the guy was trying to grind me on the price based on a quote from a guy that was installing kit systems. I explained the differences between the two quotes but he went with the other guy to save $150. ( I took great pleasure in repairing that system a couple of years later!) Now I work on commercial and industrial refrigeration and HVAC. I fix freezers that can hold that 45ft boat with room to spare! That's where the real money is! These days I only work on boat systems for friends and fellow club members. I even work for rum sometimes! (GOOD rum of course!)
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-08-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: What to ask an HVACR tech. BEFORE they come to your boat.

A Friend helped me change out the comp in my home side by side a few months ago.. didn't weigh in the charge was around 5 0z of 134

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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