December 2011 ESPCO Newsletter


Well, it’s been one year since I created ESPCO, Inc. and started on this journey of self employment and personal growth. It has been a wild ride at times, definite highs and lows but most importantly, constant learning and adjustments.

I do my best not to give advice but if I were to say one thing to new business owners, and even people who may feel that they are fairly well established… be flexible! ESPCO as it is now is not what I envisioned 12 months ago. My initial concept, quite frankly, didn’t work. I gave it a good try but quickly realized that I needed what I now call “training partners”. I have been incredibly fortunate to have formulated several of these partnerships going into 2012 and I look forward to sharing them with you at the appropriate times, (I will be announcing one in this newsletter).

This crazy economy makes it necessary for business owners to loosen their grip on the wheel a bit and go where the business is…even if that is in an unconventional place and it takes a new road map to get there. This experience has humbled me and also encouraged me. Most of us like to think we “got the plan” and nothing will stop us from success. This is a good attitude, maybe the only attitude to have going into a new venture but what I have learned…the hard way in some cases…is to be willing to admit when your plan was flawed and re-assess and make adjustments. This may sound like I’m stating the obvious but often times our egos get in the way of adjustment. The shame is not in admitting a failure but rather in not correcting it and moving forward even if that means in a completely new direction and method.

I am proud of what ESPCO has become and I am thankful this adventure has caused me to evaluate, and constantly reevaluate, myself and my skills. When I look back at the first post I made on my website; “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” from March of this year I see the following quote; “education should never stop…..must never stop! The past seven years I have trained thousands of HVACR technicians and I neglected my own education. I was so busy doing what I was doing and enjoying a certain degree of success that I forgot to expand my own horizons by taking on new subjects and applications”.

So cool to look back a year later and see how I put that sentiment into practice and now find myself looking to 2012 with fresh ideas, subjects and partners! I’m no genius gang…you all know that, but I saw a need in the market, I recognized some deficiencies in myself and worked to eradicate them and I “loosened my grip on the wheel” and allowed myself and my business to grow, to prosper and to evolve!

Good luck to all of you in 2012 and remember we, (and that means you too), are a community here at ESPCO. We’re all in this thing we call the HVACR industry together, ready to help when we can and share our experiences…both good and bad.


I have received a few phone calls from readers who are asking about upcoming classes and  / or questions about specific jobs or problems. I love hearing from all of you but I just want to suggest that the best way to reach me is via email. You can be as descriptive and detailed as you like in an email and I promise I will get back to you. In a couple cases I exchanged voice mails with readers and never hooked up so again, best to start with an email so we can establish a communication line. You can use the contact form here to get connected.


I have been involved with SDHV since 1984. I have it both in my home and in my shop. I was in Columbia, SC last week talking mini-split air conditioning when in the course of my presentation I mentioned SDHV. I was surprised to learn that my audience had little experience with SDHV but as I described it’s attributes I could see light bulbs turning on all over the room!

I have teamed up with the Comfort-Aire brand of SDHV, (as well as mini-split), for 2012 and will be conducting classes on their behalf on a national basis.

I wanted to take some time this month to give everyone a general overview of SDHV and what makes Comfort-Aire special.

SDHV’s claim to fame has always been it’s prefabricated duct system…no duct sizing no matter what the tonnage, (1 – 5 tons over 5 models). A variety of plenum materials can be used but 9″ round metal is the most common. Installations where the total plenum length is less than 150′ can use smaller 7″ round. Rectangular metal is also an option.

The plenum will always transition to either 2″ or 2 ½” supply tubing which will bring you to the room being conditioned. When utilizing the 2″ tubing the rule of thumb is 7 registers, (Comfort-Aire calls them outlets, I call them pucks), per ton and when installing the 2 ½” tubing use 5 pucks per ton.

I love the option Comfort-Aire gives with the two sizes of tubing…being able to reduce the number of pucks when 2 ½” tubing is used saves time and material costs!

I have been preaching the benefits of single cabinet fan coil construction for years. My position has always been there can be no air leakage from a single cabinet…air leakage kills efficiency! The Comfort-Aire SDHV fan coils come in five models…1 – 4 ton are the single cabinet design…the 5 ton unit comes in a modular design and is field constructed from two modules. I like this! The 5 ton being the heaviest and physically the largest of the five models, it makes sense to split it up for ease of installation. The 1 – 4 ton cabinets weigh about 100 lbs. or less so a single technician should have no problem maneuvering them during the install. The 5 ton fan coil has a combined weight of 183 lbs. so for us spindly types it is nice to be able to essentially split that weight over two modules.

Possibly my single most appreciated feature of the Comfort-Aire system is the return air options. The return air connection, (flange if you will), is round, oval or a return air plenum module is available which allows for multiple returns. The SDHM, as it is called, comes with no return openings so the installer can cut whatever openings are necessary for any number of returns…how cool is that!

After 27 years with SDHV I feel I have found the system with the best product features, accessories, installation aids and overall factory support with Comfort-Aire.

I can go on and on about the advantages and SDHV and specifically the Comfort-Aire product but I’m going to stop for now and invite all of you to keep an eye on the “training events” tab of my website where I will soon be posting dates times and locations of Comfort-Aire SDHV design, installation and service training classes coming to a location near you in 2012! Please go to the Comfort-Aire website at:

Click on “residential” and “small duct high velocity” to get more details and find a Comfort-Aire distributor near you.


Check out this article in Solar Thermal Magazine about a buddy of mine, Sal Iacono of the Community Environmental Center who was influential in installing a thermal solar system on a Jewish Community Center on Staten Island, NY. Sal and I met when he came to my home to view my TSS. You can read the article here.

PV solar is not my thing but I love this idea…wiring new homes for electric car charging utilizing PV solar systems. Check out this article in Thermal Solar Magazine about a joint venture between Nissan and a California home builder. You can read the article here.

Here is some wild technology…creating natural gas using solar power! A company from Santa Barbara, CA. has filed for a patent on this technology…check it out in the TSM article here.

You can thank a TSS for your beer this winter! Check out how Anheuser-Busch in Baldwinsville, NY uses a TSS to clear the snow from the trucks delivering beer…you can read about it in TSM here.


In the November geothermal section I mentioned how a homeowner in Ohio found me on the internet and was having problems with a geothermal system installed in a new home he purchased. Among others things, he was concerned that the system was not sized correctly as he was experiencing insufficient heating on the first floor and insufficient cooling on the second, (two separate systems). When I asked if a proper design had been done utilizing ACCA manual J calculations the owner was only able to say that he “thought yes” but had never actually seen the design calculations.

He explained to me there had been an attempt by the builder and installer to resolve the issue by installing more pipe in the loop field…but no positive results were gained.

The last correspondence with me he suggested he was going to change the heat pumps and increase their capacity to see if that would give him the comfort he was looking for…I told him to STOP!

I strongly suggested before he does anything else that he have a proper manual J calculation done for the structure. I suggested he contact my good friend, Tracy at Savoy Engineering. Savoy offers ACCA manual J design services at very reasonable prices! I have used their services in my efforts with SDHV for years and the comprehensive designs they provide are invaluable both in equipment selection and in the sales presentation to the homeowner.

This is elementary for most of us but some times it is a good idea to review the basics…the successful project…whether it be geothermal, SDHV or any HVAC install, begins with proper heat gain and heat loss calculations. THERE IS NO SHORT CUT!

You can see Savoy Engineering at
(Also, on the “Links” page here, under the heading “Resources”.

If you do your own calculations then check out this article in HeatSpring Magazine by my good friend Chris Williams at The HeatSpring Learning Institute. Chris has assembled a list of “tips” when doing your own calculations. You can read the article here.


Back in October I asked all my geothermal friends to let me know if they had an upcoming installation with vertical bore hole drilling for the ground heat exchanger. I am looking to film the drilling process for my website and for a future article to be published in one or more trade journals / magazines. The offer still stands! I will be sure to give your company as much “good press” as I can wherever the video and / or pictures are used. Ideally, I’m looking for a project in the NY / NJ metro area that I can commute to each day during the install.


Check out this story of an HVAC tech in Florida who found $20K in an air conditioning duct. You can see the story here.