Plumbing Pressing Tool Replaces Conventional Soldering Method

Nestled in the rolling countryside in South Hadley, Massachusetts is the campus of Mount Holyoke College, the nation's oldest institution of higher learning for women. With many campus buildings more than 150 years old, the on-site facilities management department is challenged with the task of keeping the facilities in service and comfortable for the students, faculty and staff.

Jim Moynihan, plumbing supervisor for the department, is responsible, along with his staff of two plumbers, for the water, gas and sewer systems for the entire campus' facilities, which includes 20 dormitories and 40 academic, administrative and miscellaneous buildings that sit on 800 acres. "We are responsible for upgrades, maintenance and some major projects," explained Moynihan. "It's our job to keep the water, gas and sewer systems running."


An Innovative Maintenance Tool
Moynihan added an innovative maintenance tool – the RIDGID CT-400 pressing tool to his capabilities, which has helped Mount Holyoke's plumbing department work more efficiently and effectively. RIDGID Pressing Technology™, which includes a pressing tool, jaws and special fittings, joins copper tubing more easily, quickly and safely than the traditional time-consuming soldering method. It is designed for potable water and hydronic heat applications.

Pipe joints can be easily connected using Ridgid's pressing tool and fittings.

Fast and Efficient
Initially, Moynihan began using the pressing tool just for maintenance. "We immediately saw that we could do a job two-thirds faster," noted Moynihan. "It allows us to do our maintenance jobs quickly, freeing up the department to take on more projects."

RIDGID Pressing Technology™ is  faster than traditional soldering because it takes only about four seconds to press one joint and because users can join tubing that is wet. These two advantages combined accelerate maintenance procedures and minimize overall downtime.

Moynihan estimated it would require an eight-hour shut down of the water system to fix a water storage tank in the campus' student center. Using pressing, he was able to get the water up and running much quicker than anticipated – within two hours. "In a situation like this, everyone benefits from the pressing system, from the maintenance staff, to the administration, to the students and staff," added Moynihan.

Mount Holyoke's facility management department took on the renovation of all the bathrooms in a four-story residence hall on campus. Built in the early 1950s, the building had the original showers constructed of a layered system of concrete safe pans and one main drain. In the event that one shower drain backed up, all of the showers on the floor backed up, causing an interruption in the students' lives. In addition, some of the old safe pans were leaking, which caused deterioration of the building. Moynihan's crew gutted each of the bathroom areas, installing all new showers, sinks and toilets. All of the water piping was done using the CT-400 pressing tool and special press fittings.

"We found that we ran three weeks ahead of our projected schedule with the renovation due to the pressing tool," said Moynihan. "And in this particular project, it was critical that we stayed on track, since students were returning to occupy the dormitory by the end of the summer."

Hydraulic power Pressing Technology™
can join copper tubing that is wet.

Hydraulic power Pressing Technology™ can join copper tubing that is wet.
According to Moynihan, his plumbing staff is very comfortable with using the CT-400 pressing tool. "It's as easy as lining up the jaws on the fitting and pulling the trigger. Changing the jaws for different copper tubing sizes is also  a quick process."

For Use With Water in the Lines
In addition to all the time-saving issues, Moynihan found it was a huge advantage that the tool could be used with water in the lines. "Often in old buildings such as the ones we have on this campus, the valves are not working perfectly, and it can be impossible to shut the water off completely," he explained. "With this pressing tool, we can actually press a joint with water remaining in the line."

No Hot Permits Needed
"Our insurance company also loves the fact that we are using this technology," added Moynihan. "Especially because we are dealing with so many older buildings where there is a fear of a spark that could smolder. Pressing eliminates this possibility."

Not only does it help eliminate the chance of a potentially dangerous fire, the pressing tool may eliminate the need for hot permits, if required. "Anytime we need to solder, we are required to obtain a hot permit, which necessitates extra time for paperwork, signatures, postings and fire watches," he continued. "With pressing, none of this is necessary."

RIDGID Pressing Passes the Test
Prior to using RIDGID Pressing Technology, Mount Holyoke received approval from the Massachusetts Board of Examiners. "New England is notorious for being tough and conservative, but the local inspector was actually quite taken with the technology," said Moynihan. "We also presented the system to Mount Holyoke's administrative organization, and both the superintendent of facilities management and the director of facilities were very supportive."

When the piping and joints were tested in the resident hall bathrooms that were renovated, the staff was pleased with the results. "Other than a couple of joints that were caused by "pilot error" and are part of the learning curve, we had great results. Traditionally, on a job of this magnitude, the percentages are such that we would end up with a half dozen small leaks if we were soldering conventionally," said Moynihan.

The Professional Tool of the Future
"Originally, when we purchased the first CT-400 tool, we thought if we used it three times in the year, it would be worth it, said Moynihan. "Within three months, we bought two more tools because we saw the value of it, and we were using it every week. It's a terrific tool…it's quality-built, quality-engineered and it's incredibly efficient."

"Pressing has become a part of what we do," said Moynihan. "Now, the pressing tool is the way we do our job."

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