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There wasn’t an empty seat in sight at the May technical meeting for SAIRAC Johannesburg’s centre when visitors were treated to useful practical demonstrations, in addition to the usual presentation.

The monthly technical meeting of the Johannesburg centre of the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (SAIRAC) took place on 17 May at the ACRA training centre in Kempton Park.

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A packed class room for Charel Marais’s talk on refrigerant piping installations.

The presenter was Charel Marais, ACRA lecturer and SAIRAC Johannesburg centre vice chairman. His topic for the night? Refrigerant pipe work installation for split air-conditioning units. The classroom at ACRA was packed with eager visitors, ready to learn from Marais’s extensive hands-on experience.

But before the presentation ensued, there were a few formalities to be taken care of. Everyone in attendance was invited to the FRIGAIR show and told about the various events worth diarising. Then the certificates were read out for new members and everyone who recently completed SAIRAC courses.

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Hands-on practical demonstration of how to correctly bend refrigerant piping.

Marais’s talk was very interactive and exciting, keeping visitors engaged throughout as he showed pictures of examples he took on site – the good, the bad and the ugly. The title of his talk was ‘Refrigerant piping installation – do you really know or do you think you know?’ He explained that the full course usually takes about nine weeks to complete so what he presented that night was merely a summarised version.

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A captive audience at the SAIRAC technical meeting, taking notes on how to do the basics the correct way.

Marais’s talk covered the following, among others:

  • various support methods for copper piping
  • how to insulate refrigerant piping
  • how to bend copper piping by using pipe benders
  • brazing of copper pipe
  • pressure testing of refrigerant piping
  • leak testing of refrigerant piping
  • evacuation of system
  • oil traps installation
  • quality of work, correct / incorrect methods

Marais spent some time on the tooling section. “It’s no use you have all these fancy tools but you don’t know how to use them,” he said. He also reiterated the importance of taking pride in your work on site. “Your life time of your equipment depends on your workmanship. Do it right the first time.”

He gave some practical tips on how to improve installations and avoid damage to Armoflex in particular. His number one tip – never use cable ties!

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Charel Marais was the speaker for the evening.

Marais shared some interesting videos to show how things should (and shouldn’t) be done and ended off with some dreadful ‘final fixes’ of things he’s seen on site. The video he shared of a snake inside a split somewhere overseas, got quite a reaction as well!

Once the presentation finished, everyone gathered in the workshop area for some live demos to show how to do the basics. This included showing how to do pipe bending accurately and how to get a good seal while brazing refrigerant piping.

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One of the demonstrations showed guests how to do brazing properly.

Afterwards, guests were invited to try for themselves before enjoying some snacks and refreshments.

There was a great energy in the room and everyone in attendance was very curious and willing to learn.

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