June 2012 ESPCO Newsletter


I have never done this before but I think some of you may have missed this article from last month’s newsletter and I think it is worthy of everyone’s attention…or maybe a second look!

The HydroClaw by Storm King Enterprises

A couple buddies of mine have invented a new way to secure and safely mount a traditional diaphragm expansion tank on any structural member within the boiler room and / or on unistrut. The HydroClaw is the invention of Bruce and Jeff Perry, brothers from my home town in Orange County, NY. They were taught well by their dad, Mr. Don Perry, and there has been a Perry taking care of the community’s plumbing, heating and cooling needs since 1927.

You can tell how smart these guys are because they don’t work together…that seems to be a curse in our industry. I have seen too many family businesses ruined by feuding siblings. Bruce is the president / owner at Perry Plumbing, Heating & Cooling in Cornwall, NY and Jeff is the president / owner of Piedmont Radiant out of Charlottesville, VA.

These guys are not your average HVAC and plumbing contractors…each hold a college degree and each have talents and interests outside their ‘day jobs’.

The HydroClaw is truly a product born from ‘necessity being the mother of invention’. Bruce and Jeff are advocates of the new condensing boiler technologies where boilers have been taken off the floor where they were traditionally installed and now they are mounted on walls. Many of these boilers do not have integral expansion tanks and traditional air scoops for air removal have been replaced with low loss headers with integrated air removal devices. The problem the brothers faced…and I suspect many of us ‘wet heads’ do as well…is where and how to mount the diaphragm expansion tank?

The HydroClaw is an innovative and creative answer to this question…it securely grabs the tank within a steel clamp designed to mount to any structural member, (possibly right on the same wall the boiler is mounted), or to a piece of unistrut secured to structure. The HydroClaw is currently available in a size that accepts both #30 and #60 standard diaphragm expansion tanks of virtually all manufacturers as well as the ‘thermal’ type tanks for water heaters. The HydroClaw Jr. is soon to be released and it is designed to hold the smaller #15 tanks.

I think it is safe to say we all have unknowingly unthreaded what was a water-logged diaphragm expansion tank only to have it drop to the floor like a bowling ball because of the weight of the water…and if it hit your foot it was an experience you won’t long forget! A water-logged expansion tank creates a hazard of pipe breakage due to the excessive weight. The HydroClaw can prevent catastrophic damage resulting from a flooded expansion tank taking pipe and other system components with it as it tears from the system if not supported properly.

Now, before you suggest that Bruce and Jeff go on the show, ‘Shark Tank’, I have already suggested it and I wasn’t the first. I think the boys got something here that might, in time, even go beyond its initial intended use. I can see the HydroClaw being used to mount virtually any tank of any type… I also see a future for it as a seismic mount for water heaters and alike in areas prone to earthquake. You guys hear that in California?

I have posted two videos that the brothers have produced touting the advantages of the HydroClaw and how to install it properly. The videos can be seen under the tab ‘videos’. I have to tell you, I’m not only impressed with the HydroClaw itself but I think Jeff Perry has a future in ‘infomercials’…he is great in these videos and represents the product, himself and his brother very well.

The HydroClaw is patent pending and the boys are researching how best to bring the HydroClaw to the masses but for now you can buy directly from them at Storm King Enterprises. Call Bruce at 845-534-4270.



Go to the ‘training events’ tab and find an upcoming class near you!

SUBJECT: Mini Split Air Conditioning & Heating
DATE: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
CLASS SPONSORS: Comfort-Aire / Heat Controller & American Copper & Brass
LOCATION: Heat Controller
1900 Wellworth
Jackson, MI. 49203
CONTACT: 517-787-2100

SUBJECT: Mini Split Air Conditioning & Heating
DATE: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
CLASS SPONSORS: Comfort-Aire / Heat Controller & Style Crest, Inc.
LOCATION: Style Crest, Inc.
645 Hagerty Dr.
Fremont, OH. 43420
TIME: 2 – 5PM
CONTACT: James Zuehike

SUBJECT: Mini Split Air Conditioning & Heating
DATE: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
CLASS SPONSORS: Comfort-Aire / Heat Controller & E-Town WinAir
436 S. Mulberry St
Elizabethtown, KY. 42701
TIME: 9AM – Noon
CONTACT: Doug Kerr

SUBJECT: Mini Split Air Conditioning & Heating
DATE: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
CLASS SPONSORS: Comfort-Aire / Heat Controller & Trane
103000 Springfield Pike
Cincinnati, OH.  45215
CONTACT: 513-771-8884

SUBJECT: Mini Split Air Conditioning & Heating
DATE: Thursday, June 21, 2012
CLASS SPONSORS: Comfort-Aire / Heat Controller & Trane
2300 CityGate Dr.
Columbus, OH. 43219
CONTACT: 614-473-3500



I did a swing through the lovely state of Vermont last week with my mini split class and I ended the trip at the FW Webb location in Fitchburg, MA. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Witti and his crew and they filled a room for me with some great HVAC installers and service technicians and we spent the afternoon talking Comfort-Aire mini splits.
While I was there Chris showed me his collection of antique plumbing fixtures. He showed me a toilet that was actually manufactured and sold by FW Webb back in the day. He had a shelf full of beautiful faucets and a urinal flush valve that looked and felt like the handle on a Vegas slot machine…how cool!
Check out the offer for a ‘free case of beer’ with purchases of $250.00 or more…pre-politically correct era for sure!
You can see all these great items at www.ESPCOtraining.com under the ‘media’ tab and then click on ‘gallery’ and scroll to the pictures titled ‘FW Webb, Fitchburg, MA fixture artifacts’.


I posted some video taken at the April 24, 2012 Comfort-Aire mini split class held at the FW Webb location in Newburgh, NY. The video captured a portion of the class that highlights the advantages of inverter compressor technology as well as a comparison of ductless inverter systems vs. ducted conventional systems.
You can see the video at www.ESPCOtraining.com in the ‘media / video’ section.


I get asked quite often if I think mini splits should be used as a heat source and my answer is always a resounding YES!
Now, before you start writing your email to me to counter my position let me complete the thought…yes, mini splits should be used as a heat source but they should NOT be the sole heat source in cold climates such as the northeast.
I have never seen the logic in installing cooling only mini split models in cold climates…the equipment cost difference between cooling only and heat pump models is minimal and the benefit of a secondary heat source can be invaluable.
Equipment such as the Comfort-Aire V series inverter single and multi-zone systems can heat down to 5 degree outdoor air temperatures. Now, we do need to discuss this a bit…at 5 degree ODA the heating capacity drops off significantly from its full rated capacity at 47 degree ODA. That understood, the benefit of having a secondary heat source should a boiler or a furnace go down on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Eve far outweighs any concerns about performance…in my opinion.
Again, understand that we’re not going to get ‘rated performance’ at 5 degrees but we are going to get heat…and that my friends is the benefit! I’m gonna say it one more time to be clear…I am NOT promoting mini splits as sole heat source in cold climates and we do need to sell these systems by educating our customers of their limitations.
I am very confident that given the choice of a cooling only mini split or a heat pump model that will provide secondary and / or supplemental heat, Mrs. Gillicuddy will gladly pay a little more for the heat pump.
How about the radiant floor heating project that requires supplemental heat? Many of us ‘wetheads’ have found ourselves in need of supplemental heat in rooms where we just plain couldn’t put enough tubing in the floor…the mini split heat pump might just be an economic alternative to a hydronic fan coil and / or kickspace heater. Low cost and ease of installation makes the mini split heat pump a winner!


I have been telling attendees of my Comfort-Aire mini split classes how I have become addicted to a television show on the Home & Garden Network (HGTV). The show is called ‘House Hunters International’. My wife turned me on to the show…the premise is they have a couple who is in the market to buy a home and show them three homes, at the end of the show they choose one. My wife likes the show because she tries to guess which house the couple will buy. I like the show because in showing the couple each home they usually show the ‘mechanicals’ of the home like the heating, cooling and water heating systems.
It is so cool to see how guys just like us are conditioning air and heating water in other parts of the world!
Don’t be afraid…check out the show…no one is going to know and I bet you find it as interesting as I do.


Lou Rasmussen of Heat Controller, Inc. was named President of HCI on June 1, 2012. Lou joined the HCI team about four and a half years ago as Vice President of Sales. In January of 2011 he was promoted to Executive Vice President and joined the Heat Controller Board of Directors. In his new position Lou is responsible for the operations of the company’s two divisions: Heat Controller, Inc. Jackson, MI and Aiton’s Equipment, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Congratulations to Lou!


I am sad to report that Bob November, owner of McKenzie River Music in Eugene, OR. passed away May 21, 2012. I met Bob this past March and wrote about him and his wonderful store in the April, 2012 newsletter.
I have been in guitar shops from Manhattan to Sunset Boulevard in LA but I have never seen a better selection of premier vintage guitars in one place like what Bob assembled at McKenzie River.
I met Bob just the one time but he and his wife Susan shortly thereafter sent me a McKenzie River tee shirt which I appreciated receiving, and since Bob’s passing, I now cherish.
See you all soon!