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Thread: Refrigerant copper vs plumbing copper?

  1. #1
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    Refrigerant copper vs plumbing copper?

    I have a friend with a system where i am very close to certain there is a leak in the wall which goes up 2 stories to the attic.
    Ive leak checked the system in all accessible locations and im sure its in the wall.

    At the exit of the wall near the outdoor there is 1" plumbing copper which continues into the wall with a 90. In the attic a 7/8 lineset goes straight from the coil and over and down the wall so there must be at least one joint that is inside the wall going from the lineset to the plumbing copper, if not even more joints.
    Its my understanding that not only is plumbing copper oxidized on its interior, but also that it is not annealed which makes it harder and more prone to cracking and leaks.

    Am i correct in that thinking and only offering to run a brand new linset exposed on the exterior of the house?

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    Annealing is same, ACR is not oxygen free copper, nitrogen filled inside its inner volume. It is super clean while sealed, and dry for a very short time after uncapping.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...K2C_SeZwvUwZ-g

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    Plumbing copper also comes in 4 different grades:

    DWV for drainage very thin

    M for some heating thin

    L general potable water regular (same thickness as ACR i believe)

    K potable water thickest

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    How did you determine that it was "plumbers copper" and not ACR copper?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TechmanTerry View Post
    How did you determine that it was "plumbers copper" and not ACR copper?
    Good point. ACR can be sold as hard drawn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crispE View Post
    Its my understanding that not only is plumbing copper oxidized on its interior, but also that it is not annealed which makes it harder and more prone to cracking and leaks.

    Am i correct in that thinking and only offering to run a brand new linset exposed on the exterior of the house?
    No, you are not correct in your thinking. Plumbing copper does not come oxidized on the inside and just having the word "plumbing" in front of the word "copper" does not tell you if it's​ annealed or not. Refrigeration copper comes in both hard and soft, just like plumbing copper does.

    ACR copper is usually marked as both "ACR" and "Type L" on the outside of it, as they are both exactly the same with the exception that ACR comes with a small charge of nitrogen and plugs on the ends. I have my doubts about ACR actually being any cleaner than plumbing copper, although I have heard that too.

    My theory is that they are both "super clean" on the inside. If plumbing copper meets the standards to be able to carry drinking water through it, why would it be any dirtier than refrigeration copper?

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  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechmanTerry View Post
    How did you determine that it was "plumbers copper" and not ACR copper?
    Honestly im not 100% sure i just know that it is the copper you get in straight lengths. Which i have never used before in residential. I always assumed that copper of that kind was not to be used as refrigerant pipe.

    When i say "refrigerant pipe" im referring to soft copper that comes in rolls as a lineset.

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    OH! ACR copper comes in hard/straight/not easily bendable copper just like "plumbers copper".

    But then again, "plumbers copper" comes in "rolls" just like ACR. Just not in ALL of our ACR sizes.

    But then again,"WE" ACR people use mostly "L" copper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crispE View Post
    Honestly im not 100% sure i just know that it is the copper you get in straight lengths. Which i have never used before in residential. I always assumed that copper of that kind was not to be used as refrigerant pipe.

    When i say "refrigerant pipe" im referring to soft copper that comes in rolls as a lineset.
    We used to run hard copper in residential walls all the time; it was a lot easier than trying to unroll a 50' lineset and feed it through.
    And it's what you'll find when you're running large commercial split systems.
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    Annealing is the process of softening copper and other metals by heating and slow cooling. I did it a lot when I wanted to use a bender on hard copper. Heat to cherry red then cool.
    Hard copper is not annealed. That's why it's hard.
    The important thing about ACR is it's clean and pressurized. If I was to use plumber pipe I'd run a piece of cotton waste with Virginia 10 and a fish tape. That stuff can be dirty.
    Soft refer copper is also clean. A pipe manufacturer might add more differences I don't know about. Refer copper always seemed more substantial but that's just me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hvacker View Post
    Annealing is the process of softening copper and other metals by heating and slow cooling. I did it a lot when I wanted to use a bender on hard copper. Heat to cherry red then cool.
    Hard copper is not annealed. That's why it's hard.
    The important thing about ACR is it's clean and pressurized. If I was to use plumber pipe I'd run a piece of cotton waste with Virginia 10 and a fish tape. That stuff can be dirty.
    Soft refer copper is also clean. A pipe manufacturer might add more differences I don't know about. Refer copper always seemed more substantial but that's just me.
    True that, a solvent & rag followed by N2 or CO2.
    But annealing is a hardening process, by quenching or vibrational action.
    Once I bought a 1.125 roll of L at a supply house next to RR tracks. It was like hard pipe, trash & very old. Took it back.

    Hard Cu is annealed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skwoodwiva2 View Post
    True that, a solvent & rag followed by N2 or CO2.
    But annealing is a hardening process, by quenching or vibrational action.
    Once I bought a 1.125 roll of L at a supply house next to RR tracks. It was like hard pipe, trash & very old. Took it back.

    Hard Cu is annealed.
    My bad, as hvacker said, copper is work hardened as it is formed,
    Annealing is a softening of the copper.

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    To the original question, there is no problem with hard copper being used as part of a lineset. For reference, all grocery store refrigeration piping is installed using hard ACR tube, which is a bit stronger and appropriate for use in hangers. Also, plumbing tube is perfectly clean when produced but has exposed ends, which can allow for dirt, debris, or oxidation during distribution and storage. I've seen huge bugs crawl out of 20-foot tube that was stored with open ends. Linesets, refrig coils, and ACR tube all have some level of protection to keep the inside clean - boxes, caps, plugs, etc.

    As to whether you need to run a new line, that should depend on the most cost effective way to address the leak...not a concern for the wrong tube having been used in the first place. Good luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by crispE View Post
    I have a friend with a system where i am very close to certain there is a leak in the wall which goes up 2 stories to the attic.
    Ive leak checked the system in all accessible locations and im sure its in the wall.
    Are you prepared tp be embarrassed if you replace the lines in the wall and the problem or the leak turns out to be elsewhere? What is the metering device and subcooling? Give us some operating data. How much refrigerant has been added and how often?
    (At this point, when no leak has been found, I'd have to consider that a restriction is a possibility.) Even if I thought that a restriction was eliminated, I would replace the drier and then use dye before I would give up and replace the lines in the wall.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynn comstock View Post
    Are you prepared tp be embarrassed if you replace the lines in the wall and the problem or the leak turns out to be elsewhere? What is the metering device and subcooling? Give us some operating data. How much refrigerant has been added and how often?
    (At this point, when no leak has been found, I'd have to consider that a restriction is a possibility.) Even if I thought that a restriction was eliminated, I would replace the drier and then use dye before I would give up and replace the lines in the wall.
    Initial pressures were 145hi 40 lo with subcooling of 0 degrees and superheat of about 65. Idwb 74 and oddb 79. Added 4lbs r22 then 170 hi and 70 lo with 9 subcooling and 14 superheat, slightly over charged, same idwb and oddb. 4 days later it froze up again. This time idwb was 71 and oddb was 95. Readings of 180 hi 55lo with 6 subcooling and 34 superheat. I recovered the charge and weighed out 7lb 1 oz. Factory charge is 9lb and it has roughly 40ft linset 7/8- 3/8. Im assuming it should have had roughly 10lbs after i charged it and it lost roughly 2.5 lbs over 4 days. This is a 5ton with an orifice.

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    Something that has not been mentioned ACR copper is typically what is called "Nominal" sized tubing Meaning an ACR 1/2" nominal tube meassure 1/2" on the outside diameter. Plumbing copper, 1/2" tube meassure 5/8" outside diameter and the inside diameter is no less than 1/2".

    The second typical thing as it has been mention several times is ACR has been cleaned & capped. I don't know how long the nitrogen lasts that's supposed to be in it. However I carried hard lengths of both plumbing copper and ACR copper up top of the truck year round. Both are made from the same material UNS C02300. Anything the truck can get covered in can get on and inside the plumbing copper. Yes the black patina on the copper is a protective form of Oxide (Called Passivation). It is not something that can be wiped off but must be chemically or mechanicaly removed (wire brush and emery paper). The ACR copper stays clean, at least on the inside Back in my factory days we used to soak our copper fittings in a heated bath with borax powdered soap took those old black cruddy looking parts and made then nice bright and shinny

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  24. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by crispE View Post
    Initial pressures were 145hi 40 lo with subcooling of 0 degrees and superheat of about 65. Idwb 74 and oddb 79. Added 4lbs r22 then 170 hi and 70 lo with 9 subcooling and 14 superheat, slightly over charged, same idwb and oddb. 4 days later it froze up again. This time idwb was 71 and oddb was 95. Readings of 180 hi 55lo with 6 subcooling and 34 superheat. I recovered the charge and weighed out 7lb 1 oz. Factory charge is 9lb and it has roughly 40ft linset 7/8- 3/8. Im assuming it should have had roughly 10lbs after i charged it and it lost roughly 2.5 lbs over 4 days. This is a 5ton with an orifice.
    Your data agrees with, "this is a leak."
    Were you leak testing with an electronic detector that you trust? Losing 1/2# + per day is a sizeable leak. Did you sniff the wall space where the SL enters the wall outside? The wall space should have been rich in refrigerant vapor if the leak is inside of the wall. I would consider inserting a short 1/4" tube into the wall space to make an easy pathway for the vapor to vent out from and to test. Leaks can occur in unusual locations. How about the base or the accumulator (if any)? How about the spot welds on the side of a scroll compressor?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Answer-Man View Post
    Something that has not been mentioned ACR copper is typically what is called "Nominal" sized tubing Meaning an ACR 1/2" nominal tube meassure 1/2" on the outside diameter. Plumbing copper, 1/2" tube meassure 5/8" outside diameter and the inside diameter is no less than 1/2".

    The second typical thing as it has been mention several times is ACR has been cleaned & capped. I don't know how long the nitrogen lasts that's supposed to be in it. However I carried hard lengths of both plumbing copper and ACR copper up top of the truck year round. Both are made from the same material UNS C02300. Anything the truck can get covered in can get on and inside the plumbing copper. Yes the black patina on the copper is a protective form of Oxide (Called Passivation). It is not something that can be wiped off but must be chemically or mechanicaly removed (wire brush and emery paper). The ACR copper stays clean, at least on the inside Back in my factory days we used to soak our copper fittings in a heated bath with borax powdered soap took those old black cruddy looking parts and made then nice bright and shinny

    Borax is the primary component in silver solder flux. Probably why it worked.
    I've got to try that because I have a bunch of large copper fittings I wanted to cash out at the supply house.
    Give me a relay with big enough contacts, and I'll run the world!

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    If a person wants to create a machine that will be more likely to fail...Make it complicated.

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    ID?:-OD?-Nominal?- Not Nominal??????? I gotta think about this! I don't want to think about this!

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  28. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechmanTerry View Post
    ID?:-OD?-Nominal?- Not Nominal??????? I gotta think about this! I don't want to think about this!
    Have a drink!

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