A Guide to Acetylene Torches to Get You Ready for HVAC SchoolJanuary 23, 2020
Acetylene torches are to HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technicians what calculators are to mathematicians: an essential tool with many uses. Providing one of the most powerful methods of welding and cutting metals, this tool is widely used in the industry to fix leaks and solder line sets.
But like any gas-powered tool, if you want to use it properly, there are a few key things you’ll need to know and some safety regulations you’ll need to follow. Read on to learn all about acetylene torches and the role they will play in your HVAC career.
What is Acetylene & How Can You Use it?
As one would expect, the basis of an acetylene torch is the hydrocarbon compound called Acetylene. What you may not know is that this element can get really, really hot. In fact, acetylene produces the third hottest chemical flame, and can reach an astounding 3,300 degrees Celsius when mixed with oxygen.
Acetylene is a highly unstable compound. However, once you combine it with another chemical, you can use acetylene safely and easily while still benefiting from its thermal capabilities. Oxygen is the substance most commonly combined with acetylene – but it’s important to note that the term “acetylene torch” can also be used to describe any type of oxy-fuel torch where other gases such as propane and propylene are used.
Regardless of which chemicals are involved, the two gases are present in two separate gas tanks, which are connected to the torch by two metal hoses. The flame is produced when these two gases are passed through the hoses and combined. When this flame contacts metal, it produces a chemical reaction that initiates a process known as oxyfuel cutting.
Acetylene Torch Safety Regulations
As with any power tool, it’s important to know how to safely handle an acetylene torch before you put it to use. One advantage of HVAC school is learning the safest ways to handle the equipment you’ll encounter in your career. Graduates of North American Trade Schools will learn the safety regulations and precautions they need to take to operate an acetylene torch.
One procedure you will need to learn is how to check your acetylene torch before using it to make sure it’s functioning properly. Firstly, you should check that the torch is closed, and ensure that the pressure adjustment screws are blacked out. Then you can separately open the gas cylinder valves and adjust the regulator p/a screws to change the pressure settings. Next, you can open and close valves separately and make any other changes to the pressure settings on the regulators.
HVAC Technician Training 101: Using an Acetylene Torch
HVAC technician training will allow you to learn how to use these power tools through a hands-on approach, but it’s good practice to know a bit about the steps in using them before you begin your studies.
To use an acetylene torch, you’ll first have to light it by purging the oxygen and fuel gas lines – separately – and opening the fuel gas valve slightly. Next, using a striker, ignite the flame. You can then adjust the gas flow to make the flame form a sharp tip. Now your acetylene torch is ready to use.
Once you’re finished with the torch, you can shut it down by closing the oxygen and fuel gas torch valves. If you don’t plan on using the torch for a while, make sure that all the regulator gauges read zero.
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