Quality Standards are the Hallmark of this Sealing Subset
Plumbing and HVAC o-rings and other sealing solutions require stringent quality controls in order to be implemented in a variety of applications running from cooking and food preparation to heating, cooling, and refrigeration. Understanding some of these requirements will help you identify the right component providers to ensure the applications in critical industries are up to par and able to deliver long-term value.
Today we’ll explore some of the key standards and regulatory measures in place for plumbing and HVAC o-rings and seals. Whether it’s compatibility with potential refrigerants, standards to meet while working with drinking water, or manufacturing guidelines, there are a host of guidelines you’ll want your sealing solution provider to be able to reach.
First Article Inspection (FAI)
FAI is a process shared across nearly every type of manufacturing industry in the world. It allows suppliers to formally report measurements of the initial part (the first article) manufactured in cooperation with a customer who reviews and approves it.
Before a part or component goes into production at a CNC machine shop, it goes through an engineering review. Once a design is deemed manufacturable, and the necessary materials are received, the first article of the part is fabricated. Upon completion, the part will go through the FAI process which is designed to Verify, Document, and Confirm.
After the first article has been produced, passed inspection, and had all the specs verified, recorded, and confirmed, the part is ready for mass production. Adherence to the stringent processes in this step is necessary to ensure the heavily regulated plumbing and HVAC components are up to standards. You’ll want to work with a supplier that can guarantee any provided parts and seals will go through the FAI process.
Chloramine is an organic compound and is implemented as a disinfectant to treat drinking water. Typically formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat water, chloramines provide longer-lasting disinfection — or secondary disinfection — as the water moves through pipes and plumbing to consumers.
Rubber sealing components and water containing chloramine can be found in nearly every kind of consumer water fixture including showerheads, faucets, bathroom toilets, drinking fountains, ice makers, water pipes, water meters, irrigation systems, and fire suppression systems.
However, some standard formulations of rubber — like Nitrile, EPDM, and Neoprene — deteriorate quickly when in contact with chloramine. This leads not only to breakdowns of critical seals within these systems, but also contaminated water in portable systems.
No one wants to turn on the faucet and see flecks of degraded seals within the water. Specific formulations of the materials listed above, or upgraded material selections like silicone or fluorocarbon — can sidestep the issue. These formulations provide the needed resistance for plumbing and HVAC o-rings to continue to offer the desired performance without the threat of contamination.
Whether it’s in use for a freezing or chiller device at a restaurant, an air conditioning unit, or in any of a myriad of other applications where lower temperatures are needed or expected, seals in the HVAC industry will have display compatibility with the refrigerants used in those processes.
The most common type of refrigerants used today across the world are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Previously, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were more widely used, but were phased out following the introduction of the Montreal Protocol in 1987 as concerns about the environmental damage they caused became prevalent.
R-134a is one of the world’s most used refrigerants, widely embedded in automotive, commercial and residential air conditioning systems, across the world. The R-407C family of refrigerants — based on blends of R-134a, R-125, and R-32 — are suitable for use in refrigeration and air conditioning and have been introduced as lower-GWP alternatives to incumbent products.
All the refrigerants provide another variable to account for when designing plumbing and HVAC systems. You’ll need sealing materials and other elements to not react adversely when working with refrigerants to maintain their integrity. Elastomer formulations from FFKM, EPDM and Neoprene materials fare well in such circumstances.
Other standards also apply to sealing solutions used in regards to plumbing and potable water systems. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) develops the standards for testing and measures the amount of lead and other heavy metals, and organic materials that are released into the water supply when the product is used. NSF-61 is a standard addressing material certification related to the sanitary and potable water industry, including joints, seals, and custom molded parts. KTW (Germany) and WRAS (United Kingdom) represent other standards developed in Europe.
When looking for sealing solutions for plumbing and HVAC systems, you’ll want your supplier to provide confirmation of both refrigerant compatibility and compliance with the water standards.
Trust Marco Rubber for Plumbing and HVAC O-Rings and More
Marco Rubber and Plastics has decades of experience in supplying sealing solutions to companies across the world, including those manufacturing heating and cooling systems from the smallest window A/C unit to large industrial chillers.
Custom molding is available to address odd-shapes or large sizes found in industrial applications. Our expertise goes beyond elastomers as well; We offer custom plastic parts and components in a variety of materials.
Our diversified production network is connected with certified ISO/IATF manufacturers and distributors of highly engineered mechanical parts and precision metal components as well. Our expertise, experience, and expert engineer team can help you design and acquire products like seals, drains, vibration control, and insulation components as requested by our customers that are essential in plumbing and HVAC applications.
Marco Rubber & Plastics offers decades of application-specific material expertise backed by the world’s most extensive inventory and production network. Our industry-leading customer satisfaction and audit scores are built on our easy online ordering and inventory programs, adherence to quality standards, and a commitment to customer service and support.
Contact us today to learn more about all of our custom molded and engineered products and how their performance can lead to ideal plumbing and HVAC o-rings and other sealing solutions.