Home Appliances II
math, and how to drive yourself nuts connecting home appliances
in a two-part series on connecting home appliances such as gas
ranges, dryers, and why what seems to be the real measurement is a
figment of your imagination.
week we were talking about how to connect home appliances using
adapters and flair nuts, and why such a
simple thing, such as connecting the ice maker in your
refrigerator to the water source, can become so confusing.
Not to veer
off course, but today, in high schools, students are discouraged
from cigarette smoking. Back when we were in high school there
wasn’t such a concerted effort to keep anyone from smoking; as a
matter of fact, it wasn’t so unusual to see a teacher or two
standing outside the building, having a quick one between classes.
students frequently would skip class to have a cigarette. Nobody
skipped stuff like social studies – slept through it anyway. If
they were going to skip, they skipped something like math.
If that was
you, pack it in now. Just call somebody to do whatever
installation you’re working on right now, or get someone at
Frentz to s-p-e-l-l i-t
o-u-t for you, because without some working knowledge of numbers,
you can’t do something like connect your icemaker.
Years ago, when piping was made, it was made primarily of
steel, for strength. But then a few years later alloys came along
– mixtures of metals that were stronger and often lighter than
steel, which meant you didn’t have to use as much of an alloy to
make that same piping.
So when you
use less of something, its measurements usually change -- but they
didn’t change in the world of pipes. When steel was given the
heave-ho in favor of alloys, the measurements used for steel
stuck, even though the alloys had different dimensions.
in today’s world, piping – either alloy or copper – is
ordered and sold according to the measurements attributed decades
ago to steel. The measurements never changed along with “the
evolution of hardware,” as Mike Frentz calls it. The reason:
People became accustomed to a certain way of describing something
and that particular way worked, so they went with it.
It took Mike
and his brothers years to figure out this system and they used to
feel ridiculous when, as teenagers, they’d help their dad in the
store after school and on weekends.
say, ‘Dad, this guy wants half-inch pipe and I can’t find
it,’” Mike said, “and my dad would say ‘That’s OK, but
it’s right over there.’ It took us a long time to get the
system down correctly.”
Example: All piping is measured by its inside diameter. The best
way to think of this is like French class, where they gave you an
absolute rule and told you the rule never changes, except when it
does. If you went into Frentz Hardware to order piping, you would,
for example, need to know that:
measures seven-sixteenths on the inside, then you’re probably
looking for three-eighths inch piping.
make sense, does it? Let’s try again:
piping, measured by the Inside Diameter (ID), equates to a
half-inch pipe, measure by the Outside Diameter (OD).
When you get up
to sizes such as three-quarters ID, you’ll find it’s the same
OD, but this rule is not always
In English, what you’re dealing with here is called a nominal
measurement. That is different from the actual
measurement, which means you can trust your ruler and you don’t
need a translator.
Frentz, this stuff can get so tricky that Mike and John actually
use calipers to measure the ID and OD, to make certain that when
they go in the back room to cut 35 feet of pipe, they’re cutting
the right size.
tubing can be even more confounding, because if you look at it,
hold it right there in your hand, you’ll see that the dimension
is marked on the pipe. It might say half-inch. But the OD on that
is five-eighths, and the ID is nine-sixteenths.
example: three-quarter-inch copper pipe. Says so right there. But
the OD will be seven-eighths, and the ID will be
is why you need a Hardware Guy.
after all these years, neither Mike nor John will just take a
guess at a piece of pipe someone brings in to match, although
after all these years they’re pretty good at it. But that
doesn’t matter -- they always
that’s what you should do. These appliance installation jobs
aren’t that hard, but getting the right materials to work with
is the secret. So when you’re about to swap out a gas range, or
connect to an icemaker with a new refrigerator, bring a piece of
the pipe in to Frentz so they can measure it for you.
you’re installing a gas dryer, you want to vent with aluminum
duct work. Mike says hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homes in the
Royal Oak area have vinyl duct connections on gas dryers.
can collect in the creases and corrugations on the inside of the
vinyl duct work and gas dryers, in many cases, can kick out enough
heat to ignite the lint, which melts the vinyl and can start a
home fire. Take a look at your connection. If it’s vinyl, you
might want to consider moving to one of two fairly inexpensive yet
infinitely safer options:
aluminum duct work is smooth on the inside, so the lint has
nothing to attach to, and thus, no problem.
aluminum duct work, which is a little easier to handle, but
still has creases inside where lint collects. The difference,
though, is that even if the lint collects and ignites, it
won't burn the aluminum duct.