Friday, September 23, 2011

Budget Stretching Ideas

Schools face a serious budget crunch these days created by expanding enrollment and shrinking resources. There are many small things that you can do to stretch your budget and still provide a reasonable level of training for your students. Refurbishing tools that have become shop worn rather than replacing them is one small possible savings. Tools that normally last for years in the field sometimes only last a few semesters in our lab due to the harsh treatment they sometimes receive as well as the constant use. The seals and depressors in hoses are one example. If you have refrigeration hoses that leak, often the leak is in the seal on the end. The seal in most hoses is a small rubber tube that slips into the end of a brass cup in the end of the hose. The core depressor is either held in place by the seal or screws down into it. Replacement seals and depressors are available for most brands of hoses. If the hoses you have are used for connecting to refrigerant cylinders, vacuum pumps, or recovery machines, there is really no reason to have the core depressor. Removing it will speed up all those operations by removing a restriction. A larger savings can come in the type of brazing rod you keep. While I prefer 15% silver, it is now over $100 a pound and we use several pounds a semester. I hate to have students braze any less because brazing is one of those skills that must be practiced. 0% copper-phos is just over $10 a pound and does the same job. No, not as easily, but I can buy a semester’s worth for less than one pound of the 15% silver. Another savings for many programs is to reduce the paper you hand out. I have always been fairly liberal with the handouts, believing that it is important to disseminate information. I still believe that, but I have modified the way I share information. I started by writing a book that had more of what I wanted in it. But there will always be new information you run across that you want to share. Increasingly, I do this electronically by sharing web addresses. Finaly, let the supply houses and contractors in your area know you need help. They can keep their eye out for opportunities to help you. This past year we have received several donations from contractors and supply houses of “stale” stock or equipment with issues. They receive a tax deduction and we receive equipment. A unit with an issue may be a problem for a contractor, but it is an opportunity for my students . We have received two new packaged heat pumps this past year that had leaks on the pilot tubes of the reversing valves. Students patched the leaks and the valves worked. Now we have two new packaged heat pumps.  


  1. Refrigeration Technologies "Big Blu" leak detection soap sends me copies of their leak detection manual for students free. Viewable at

    NIOSH has safety booklets free.

    Hart & Cooley will send free copies of most all of their products that contain information. Venting vent sizing procedures. Registers and grilles air flow throw, fpm and cfm capacity.

    There are many sources out there that are willing to share their information. You just have to ask.

    Our students had the opportunity to visit the AHR Expo last year. Unknown to the instructor with the group the students asked about equipment donation. A couple months later we were contacted and 5 pallets of equipment arrived free donated by the manufacturer.

    The sources are out there you just have to ask.

  2. Wow. Sorry to hear about the stretching. Best of luck to you!

  3. We use 5% because that's what their boss is going to give them to use hired. On the hoses and gauge manifolds, I tel the students to only tighten them "two finger tight." In other words, don't use your whole hand to close the manifold. The pressure from two fingers is sufficient.

  4. Local wholesalers many times have warranty parts that they hold for disposition by the manufacturers. Many times these parts are scrapped. But if you contact them they are more than willing to give them to you for training. The wholesaler that I have a working relationship estimates that probably 50% of returned parts have nothing wrong with them Yes some contractors become remove and replace troubleshooters and good parts get replaced with good parts. We had an integrated control board for an ECM motor system that got smoked. He had given us several boards and one of them was a match worked. All facets heating and cooling. A forced fan humidifier only had a bad humidistat. On several steam humidifiers we have been able to swap parts to make a couple of working steam humidifiers and use the remaining one for class room display of the parts. Our lab even received a two week old working 90 percent efficiency furnace that was changed under warranty because the pressure switch would trip. But that wasn't the problem.