How to Replace a Broken Coupler
A great way for us to help you diagnose problems with your dental equipment is by sending us photographs (as we discussed in Practice Tips #101) or, when feasible, by sending us the damaged dental part. We frequently see photos of broken quick connect couplers. Rather than trying to replace this connector with the same fragile connector, you’re better off upgrading to a permanent brass connector.
In previous issues of Practice Tips, we’ve discussed quick disconnects, which are generally used so a single piece of equipment can be moved from room to room and to connect to the air or water supply. Ultrasonic scalers and etchers are two of the most common examples of equipment that are often connected with quick disconnects.
Similar to quick disconnects are quick connect couplers. These handy fittings allow quickly attaching air and water. Unlike a quick disconnect, these fittings are used to make more permanent connections. While they can be easily detached, they aren’t expected to be detached on a regular basis.
To simplify installation of new equipment, many manufacturers provide their equipment with quick connect couplers. They allow quick and easy connection of all the air and water lines in a delivery system’s umbilical tubing to the junction box. They can be great time savers when installing the equipment. These couplers are not used to facilitate disconnecting the lines in any way, however. These lines should be permanently attached. Having the capacity to disconnect the lines easily is not why these couplers are in place. In fact, having the lines come apart would cause your unit to cease functioning, so it’s desirable to eliminate that possibility.
As these couplers are made of plastic, it isn’t unusual for them to break. When they do eventually break, we recommend you replace these couplers with metal splicers instead. Practice Tips issues #5 and #32 have more information about these fittings and how to work with them.
It’s important to keep the function of a part in mind when searching for a replacement - Don’t get too hung up on appearances. Often when a part fails, it can be replaced with a superior component to provide the same function, while gaining a benefit, such as its longevity.