In today’s non-stop plumbing and heating arena, installers who have not yet invested in their own pipe-freezing machine could be losing substantial business opportunities and earnings. Owning this equipment is now as essential as having a pipe bender or blowtorch.
The UK does not have sufficient skilled tradesmen to carry out all the extra work that has been created recently by vital energy efficiency promotions, revised Building Regulations and the Government’s plans to build hundreds of thousands of new dwellings. New methods to speed up installations, replacements and upgrading must be adopted. Using pipe-freezing equipment to eliminate time-consuming drain downs in central heating and other pipework systems has obvious attractions.
Of course, pipe freezing is not a new technique. Many installers currently just hire the equipment for those infrequent occasions when they consider time constraints or convenience makes its use desirable. For most run-of-the-mill jobs, these installers deem a drain down acceptable and they cost the extra time this takes into the final bill. It is, after all, recognised installer work.
This is a false economy. Not only does this way or working create unnecessary and unacceptable time wasting nationally, it also denies installers valuable extra earnings.
An installer is entitled to charge a little extra for investing in and maintaining special equipment that provides customers with quicker and neater jobs. Owning a pipe-freezing machine to eliminate the need for drain downs illustrates this. For example, a job using a freezing machine that takes a fraction of the time without draining down could reasonably attract a higher hourly rate than a long drain down job with, perhaps a troublesome refill – and still cost the end user less. The time saved enables the installer to carry out more jobs at a higher hourly rate, significantly increasing overall earnings. Payback on the machine begins immediately and would be recovered in a few weeks.
Even for (perhaps especially for) small jobs, e.g. fitting TRVs, replacing stopcocks, etc., the benefits to installers of carrying their own freezing equipment are unquestionable. With such equipment, these jobs can be carried out in next to no time without having to access the mains water stopcock in the street and shut off several houses’ water supply in the process. Making the right equipment choice is important.
The two current methods of creating temporary ice blockages in pipes to allow components to be replaced without a drain down are refrigerant spray and electrical freezing machines. Ironically the release of refrigerants to atmosphere is banned in the refrigeration industry.
Installers who rely on the spray method need to work very quickly before the ice blockage thaws, and this can sometimes lead to rushed, unsatisfactory workmanship. Of course, additional spraying is possible provided sufficient refrigerant is to hand; but this costs money and tendency is to be sparing with it. Also, having already frozen pipework and disconnected components, even a trip to the van to obtain unexpected needed fittings can be a risk.
An electric pipe-freezing machine provides the complete solution. Simple to connect and to achieve proper freezing, it allows the installer as much time as is needed to carry out a first-class job. Should additional fittings be required, the machine can be left running while these are collected from the local stockist if necessary. After all, this is only like leaving a food freezer running and it completely overcomes any risk of thawing and flood damage on site.
Typically, a pipe freezing machine comprises a purpose built portable metal box that houses a condensing unit with liquid refrigerant, a cooling fan and storage space for hoses, freezing heads, clamps, protective gloves, connecting lead/plug and user instructions. The range of pipe dimensions that can be accommodated ranges from 8mm to 88mm typically. In addition, upgrade kits are now available for models purchased earlier.
In use, one freezer head is located on the pipework upstream, and one downstream, of the area in which the work is to be carried out. When switched on, two solid ice plugs can be formed within as little as 5 minutes allowing work to be carried out for as long as the machine is connected. Such machines are suitable for copper, iron, lead or plastic pipes.
Anyone selecting a pipe-freezing machine should seek maximum operational functionality. This includes features like an Electronic system that ensures consistent rapid freezing to both freezeheads regardless of pipe size or temperature differences. The high efficiency freezer heads also make access to the rear of pipework unnecessary, and detachable clamps allow pipes in awkward recesses or flush to the wall to be frozen quickly and easily.
The Patented Microprocessor Liquid Feed (in the Freeze Master) is the most advanced pipe freezing technology available. When you look at what fuel injection and electronic ignition has done for the motorcar there is no question in performance and reliability.
Armed with such equipment, installers can save time allowing exploitation of the growing plumbing and heating market that is now open to them.