Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Water Fountain Dilemma

I have written a few blogs about learning the HVAC/R trade at Erwin Technical College.  It has really opened my eyes as to what needs refrigeration and cooling.  I have also had to learn not only the refrigerant cycle, chemistry, electrical, and piping, but also how to put them all together. 

Our class had something interesting happen that really made me think about using all our skills and putting them to use on one project.  Case in point.  We were told to come over to the dental tech's office to look at a water fountain.  You know, just a standard water fountain. 

We were told that the water was shooting too far, and it wasn't cooling.  When it came to the water shooting too far, all it needed was for the cap to be cleaned out.  You know, the little piece where the water exits from?  It was clogged up with lime.  So that was an easy fix.

The cooling part?  Not so much.  See, this is where it gets tricky.  We need to remove the parts that cool the water.  But to do that we needed to shut down electricity to the water fountain.  Legally speaking it takes a friendly electrician to do that. 

Here's the catch 22.  Yes, you are allowed to flip the power breaker switch.  Yes, you are also allowed to flip it back on.  But if something was repaired it needs to be repaired by an electrician.  So "technically/legally" the water fountain at the school needs to be shut down by the electrician. 

(Sidenote:  This also depends on your city/county/state ordinances.  Things can very greatly depending upon where you are.)

Now, the internal parts of the water fountain were ready to be removed.  Well, not quite.  You see, the piping that fed the water to the water fountain is coming from the City of Tampa.  That means that is City of Tampa water, and if you want to mess with that you need to be a certified plumber.  So call in your friendly plumber.

Now the plumber has the authority to shut off the water.  He also has the training to work on the piping, but so does the HVAC technician.  Either way, we now come to the friendly HVAC tech.

Now our class could get busy repairing the unit.  It needed a good cleaning out, some refrigerant, and elbow grease.  Now we do everything in reverse.

We installed the parts back into the water fountain.  Then the plumber turned the water back on.  And finally, the electrician turned the electricity back on.  We let the unit run a bit, and it was running good as new. 

So, remember when you see a water fountain, ask yourself, "Just how many people did it take to get that thing running?" 

The answer is, "A lot."

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