Read this story to learn more about freeze kits, a great way to get work done on active pipes without turning off the water supply.
What is a freeze kit?
When conducting a modification on a live pipe, the first thing to do is shut off the water supply. Right? Not always. There are several scenarios when shutting off a main water supply isn’t an option:
- Tenants need water kept on in another part of the building
- No access to the shut-off valve
- Risk of damaging old shut-off valve
A lot of plumbing tool companies have come up with gadgets to isolate a water lines. Some work okay, but none of them work as quickly and efficiently as a “freezing kit”. A freezing kit is a mini-refrigerant unit that circulates self-contained refrigerant to aluminum freeze-heads, creating a freeze plug on both sides of the repair and giving you time to do what needs to be done.
The one above is a SuperFreeze made by Ridgid. It will freeze from ½-in. to 1in. steel pipe and ½-in. to 2 ½-in. copper lines. It runs on 115v and can form an ice “plug” in as little as six minutes.
The SuperFreeze kit includes:
- Refrigeration unit with two freeze-heads
- Two Velcro straps to secure the heads to the pipe
- Quickgrip clamps used when working in tight quarters
- Freeze gel
- Water spray bottle
- Bushings to fit the heads on either steel or copper as they have different outside diameters
(Kit packages vary)
How to use a freeze kit
Using a freeze kit is easy. You should always read the instructions, but here are the basics: Start by applying cool gel on the surface where the clamp will be placed. The cool gel fills any voids space between the heads and the pipe you are trying to freeze and creates a plug much quicker than if not used.
Strap the freeze-heads on either side of the area that needs to be modified. If you are using this device on a hot water line, make sure not to install the freeze heads near a circulator because it may cause the plug to fail.
With the heads secure, turn the machine on. You’ll see the heads starting to frost up, which tells you that’s it’s working. You should be ready to make those needed modification after about 6-8 minutes. When you’re all finished, shut the machine off, and let the heads thaw (NEVER use a torch to speed up the thawing process). What a simple, but effective tool!
The Ridgid model SF-2500 runs for approximately 3200$. Freeze kits can be rented for about 60$ a day.
Ridgid has a great video that explains in detail how the machine works:
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