Category - News




American Airlines says I spent 164 hours in the sky and traveled the equivalent of 2 ½ times around the globe in 2017!















Seven years ago, when I decided to take my training “on the road” sort of speak and go “national,” I was concerned how an old, broken-down HVAC contractor from New York…with an admittedly strange sense of humor, would be received outside of my home area.

The last seven years have done nothing but reinforce what was my already strong love and appreciation for this GREAT country of ours and the GREAT people of the United States.

I have now conducted HVACR training events in 41 states and I can say that in each state I have been warmly welcomed and ultimately accepted…in fact, I can say that I have friends in 41 states and that is a VERY special feeling…profound and special.

No matter where I go in this great country, I meet people who may look and sound different than me but all have similar needs, hopes and goals. Those who know me and have attended one of my training events know that I don’t avoid the tough subjects if they come up…politics, religion, history…and yes, even football.

What I have found without exception, is that people of different opinions and beliefs CAN converse when each has a respect for the other’s foundation…their background, their intelligence and their experiences. One guy from New York has a different foundation than a guy from Texas, or California, or Georgia…not a better foundation, just a different foundation.

Possibly the greatest joy of my job is how it allows me to meet people all around the country and simply talk with them…obviously my primary mission is to share my experiences within the HVACR world but that platform allows me to meet with, speak with…and so often, become friends with people who in turn share their experiences, beliefs and knowledge with me…and that is what makes my job so powerful in my life.

My platform has allowed me to share the story of the man I call my father, Elwood Weaver, who at the age of fifteen, so infuriated by the attack on Pearl Harbor, ran away from home to join the Marines and ultimately fight in the battle of Guadalcanal. I told Elwood’s story, as I do to virtually every group I’m in front of, in Hopkinsville, KY just this past December. At the end of the class a young man named Ty Heltsley came up to me to tell me how his grandfather was with Elwood in the First Marine Division at Guadalcanal…WOW!

Elwood passed away 17 years ago but in that moment when Ty and I were speaking, Elwood was right there…how powerful!

I would have never met Ty if not for my job. I would have never known about Ty’s grandfather if I didn’t share Elwood’s story.

One young man from Kentucky with seemingly nothing in common with an old guy from New York other than our chosen profession, because we spoke to each other, respected each other’s foundation, we discovered a bond that each of us going into that meeting room in Hopkinsville, KY could have never predicted.

As I say at the end of Elwood’s story when I tell it…that was America in 1945 and that is America in 2018!

God Bless America!

IT’S A GREE THING!  The algorithm of the GREE inverter compressor feature for Compressor Discharge Protection was developed so as NOT to cause or allow repetitive, nuisance callbacks…this is music to the ears of HVAC business owners!

Let me explain…

I always say in my GREE Mini Split Troubleshooting class that when we have to go back repeatedly to Mrs. Gillacuddy’s house because of a repetitive error code, such as E4 COMPRESSOR EXHAUST, (DISCHARGE) HIGH TEMPERATURE PROTECTION…and we can’t charge Mrs Gillacuddy because this is an ongoing issue with no resolution in sight…well my friends, that’s is the devil’s work!

Repetitive, nuisance callbacks make the installing company’s profit evaporate and also makes them, and Mrs Gillacuddy lose faith and confidence in the product.

The title of this article is, “IT’S A GREE THING”…it’s also a man thing to not read the installation or service manual…and that’s a shame because there are so many hidden gems in the GREE product manuals…here is an example.

On page #13 of the service manual for the Multi21+ 18 & 24K systems, it states the following…

What the above is saying is…because this system utilizes an inverter compressor, the compressor can adjust it’s speed, (RPM) accordingly when the compressor discharge temperature is too low or too high, (too low, it speeds up / too high, it slows down).

The real gem here is the last sentence… “if the running time of the compressor is longer than 7 minutes, the protection record will be cleared.

WOW! That is music to my ears and the ears of any installing contractor and / or service company!

What that sentence is saying is…after an initial E4 error, should the compressor then run for 7 minutes without another E4 error, the system has the ability to essentially say to itself… “well, we have run for 7 minutes without another E4 error so it appears whatever caused that initial error was resolved internally to the system so lets wipe the fault record clean and simply move on…”


Instead of repeating the E4 error, ultimately causing us to return to Mrs. Gillacuddy’s home, the system resolved the issue itself and determined it not significant enough to inform us via another E4 error.

People, I can’t stress enough the significance of this…

The dictionary states the definition of algorithm as the following…

We always need to be conscious of the fact that inverter based equipment is indeed “computer based” equipment…I stress this in Section X of my troubleshooting curriculum where I speak to the need to check for proper ground in the electrical service of the home / building where we are installing a GREE mini split.

In the 1980’s when computer logic was first being introduced into HVACR equipment, it was scary for us to think the equipment we would be installing and ultimately repairing had micro processing ability. Today, we all have a microprocessor in our pocket with more power than many of the computers that landed man on the moon in 1969…its our smartphone!

GREE uses the computer logic of their systems in ways that are unmatched in the HVACR industry…the example I gave of the COMPRESSOR EXHAUST, (DISCHARGE) HIGH TEMPERATURE PROTECTION is just one example.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming “IT’S A GREE THING” article going into more detail about the unmatched onboard diagnostic capability of the GREE inverter mini split.

See you soon!


The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.





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Q4 2017 ESPCO Newsletter

IT’S A GREE THING! If you have attended one of my GREE product training events you have heard me say those words when I come to a feature and / or component that is unique to the GREE mini split product. One of those unique components is the second accumulator…yes, that’s right, a SECOND accumulator, in the multi-zone ODUs.

The fact that the GREE multi-zone ODU has a second accumulator gives it several unique characteristics when it comes to installation and performance.

First let me show you what I’m talking about…

Here we have the exploded view of the MULTI24HP230V1BO from page #6 of its parts manual…

Part #7 is listed as the “gas- liquid separator”, (accumulator) and part #8 as the “compressor and fittings.”

Here is an actual GREE 24K compressor for a 2 ton multi-zone ODU…

I cut the window in the suction accumulator with a Dremel tool…got to love the Dremel tool!

Now, the secondary accumulator is equal, or even larger, as you can see next…

The use of the secondary accumulator is what allows an installer to install the minimum allowable lineset per evaporator (10’), and not have to remove refrigerant from a system which came pre-charged for 98’ of lineset…BRILLIANT!

One less thing an installer has to worry about when commissioning a new system!

Another very interesting effect of having the second accumulator is what I demonstrate in Section XII of my troubleshooting curriculum.

Even when grossly overcharged, the GREE multi-zone system sees very little increase in pressure when in the cooling mode…and I’m talking GROSSLY OVERCHARGED!

In my curriculum I show that even with twice the system pre-charge (154 oz), and only 20’ of total lineset the system only gains 15 PSI from the factory charge (77 oz.), or what I call the baseline (130 PSI).

Now the heating mode is a different story! Again, as I demonstrate in the troubleshooting class, when I place the double charged system (154 oz.), into the heat mode the pressure jumps to 615 PSI…just 23 PSI from opening the high pressure switch…but then something magical happens! The inverter kicks in, slows down the compressor in turn lowering the pressure to 415 PSI and the system runs…and runs…and RUNS!

This my friends is a GREE thing!

DO NOT consider this an endorsement of over-charging GREE multi-zone systems…IT IS NOT! Purposely over-charging a system for ANYTHING other than experimental reasons is just plain stupid…yeah, STUPID!

Refrigerant ain’t cheap…don’t use any more than you need too.

Yeah, my little experiment worked great in a very specific environment, (approximately 70°F ODAT)…at 30°F ODAT the results may be VERY different!

Yeah, the inverter saved the compressor from catastrophic failure by slowing it down, thus dropping the pressure BUT, in doing so, the system lost approximately 1/3 of it’s capacity…again, on a 30°F ODAT day, that can be VERY significant!

Re-visit an article from October 2013: I thought with North Korea in the news of late, it might be interesting to re-visit an article I wrote four years ago about the USS Pueblo which remains hostage in North Korea to this day…

Bring the USS Pueblo home: I was seven years old on January 23, 1968 when the USS Pueblo came under attack by North Korean forces in international waters. The crew of the Pueblo staved off the attack for two hours as she was pursued by no less than four North Korean torpedo boats, two sub chasers and two MiG-21 fighters. The Pueblo was an ‘intelligence gathering ship’ and as a result she was armed with only a single .50 caliber machine gun and only one crew member was trained in its operation.

One of the sub chasers opened fire with a 57 mm cannon killing 21 year old Petty Officer Duane Hodges from Creswell, Oregon.

The USS Pueblo was boarded by North Korean forces and the crew would serve 335 days as prisoners, enduring brutal physical abuse and mental torture.

Why am I writing about this in my newsletter? Well, for the following reasons…

If you are younger than me, (and everyone is younger than me), chances are good you aren’t aware of what has become known as the ‘Pueblo Incident’. Although I was seven years old, I do have a vivid memory of the news reports and the images of the crew when they were freed on December 23, 1968.

The images and later interviews with the Captain of the USS Pueblo, Commander Lloyd Mark ‘Pete’ Bucher, affected me…I just had a sense that this man was a true hero…it turns out I was right. Cmdr. Bucher is credited, (by his 81 crewmembers), for leading his crew through the 11 months of captivity…leading by example, displaying courage and giving hope as they endured unimaginable brutality.

This is just one example of the brutality Cmdr. Bucher endured;

Cmdr. Bucher describes how he was about to be executed by his North Korean captives when a gun was placed at his head…he wanted his last words…his last thought…to be that of his wife Rose. He shouted out her name just as he heard the click of the gun’s trigger…the gun was not loaded. You can hear Cmdr. Bucher recount this experience in his own words in an interview at this address:

ABC 1968 30th Anniversary Interview with Pete Bucher by Diane Sawyer

Cmdr. Bucher died on January 28, 2004 at the age of 76. His death was partly attributed to injuries he sustained while a prisoner in North Korea 36 years earlier. Rose Bucher passed away just weeks ago on September 4, 2013.

The main reason for this article is this…the USS Pueblo remains to this day, a prisoner of North Korea. I find this both disgusting and unacceptable. The USS Pueblo is the second oldest still commissioned ship in the US Navy fleet…second only to the USS Constitution which was commissioned in 1797 and moored in Charlestown, MA today. Think about that…the second oldest actively commissioned US Naval ship sits in captivity today in the waters of North Korea’s Botong River in Pyongyang as an exhibit of the ‘Fatherland Liberation War Museum’. ..are you kidding me? This is an outrage!

Here’s what we all can do…write to our representatives in Washington DC and let them know we haven’t forgotten the USS Pueblo. BRING THE PUEBLO HOME!

Look, I know this is not the most pressing issue in today’s international political scene but 45 years have passed and if something is not done soon, the remaining surviving crew members will go to their graves with their ship…our ship…still in captivity.

Please go to the following address for a comprehensive history of everything related to the USS Pueblo and the brave men who served her and their nation.

May I suggest when at the above website, go to the ‘Ships Store’ and purchase a ‘Return the Pueblo’ bumper sticker and put one on each of your trucks.

See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.








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Q1 2017 ESPCO Newsletter


WHY NO HIGH-SIDE SERVICE PORT ON A MINI SPLIT? This is probably the most common question I get in my mini split training classes and one that the industry…and myself for that matter…hasn’t done a great job answering. I’m going to attempt to change all that right now…

First, we have to review what some may think is elementary and rudimentary, but I feel strongly that I need to lay a basic foundation so I can eventually get to the bottom of this.

Let’s take a look at what the expansion valve does to system pressure…

The expansion valve…in the case of a mini split, an Electronic Expansion Valve, takes in high pressure liquid refrigerant and discharges low pressure liquid / vapor refrigerant.

OK…now let’s see how this works in a “standard” refrigeration system where the expansion valve is located in the fan coil unit / evaporator.

In this case, the system has a clearly defined high & low side which can be accessed at the TWO service ports (suction & liquid), of the outdoor unit. Because the expansion valve is in the fan coil / evaporator located INSIDE the home, the suction service port will display low pressure and the liquid service port will display high pressure.  This is why standard outdoor units have TWO service ports.

The mini split however, places the expansion valve in the outdoor unit and that changes EVERYTHING!

It shifts the low pressure / high pressure border to WITHIN the outdoor unit. The high pressure side is now ONLY represented by the internal piping between the compressor discharge and the expansion valve inlet.

You know what this means don’t you?

Now, what has commonly been known as the suction (low pressure gas), valve and the liquid, (high pressure liquid), are now BOTH low pressure gas. Even if the mini split had a second service port on what is commonly called the liquid, it would display essentially the SAME pressure as the suction service port because it is located downstream of the expansion valve outlet.. which as described earlier…takes in high pressure liquid and discharges low pressure liquid / vapor.

I had a gentleman in one of my recent classes say to me, “look, the compressor still has a suction and discharge so there has to be a high side.”

He is right…the problem however is that the high side discharge tubing coming off the compressor is internal to the outdoor unit and only about a foot or two in length between the discharge of the compressor and the inlet of the expansion valve (of course the condenser is between the two).

Remember, the connection on the outdoor unit for the liquid, (although it’s not liquid), is downstream of the expansion valve outlet…so its LOW pressure gas / liquid!

I have seen a mini split outdoor unit that did provide a Schrader valve on the high side piping internal to the outdoor unit’s cabinet…only accessed by removing an outer cabinet panel.

I consider this a novelty at best…

If you want to see the high side pressure on a mini split it’s really easy to do…simply place the system in the HEAT mode…COME ON!


MONEY IS NOT THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL…JEALOUSY AND ENVY ARE! If you’re looking for more technical HVAC stuff…this article ain’t it. One of the benefits of creating this newsletter is it gives me an outlet for more than just my HVAC life…this article is about life in general.

My 55 years has given me many insights and one that I feel strongest about is jealousy and envy are the root of all evil.

Let me explain…

The nature of where my career has taken me in the last couple decades has put me out in the public eye a bit more than the average guy…maybe the HVAC industry’s eye is a more accurate description. As a result, some years back, I had been the object of someone’s jealousy and envy that, for a time, caused me to have to address what was a completely fabricated and inaccurate statement made about me.

Look…I’m not going to relive that very uncomfortable event with you here…that’s not what this article is about. What I do want to address is the root cause of the event… time has given me the clarity and wisdom to now see that its roots were in jealousy and envy.

I have a dear friend going through a very different type of episode right now yet still based, I believe, in someone’s jealousy and envy of him.

I admittedly have had difficulty understanding why some people become so interested…and ultimately, angered and consumed by someone else’s success and / or possessions. I have not been jealous or envious of someone, or their possessions, since I was a child. As an adult, I certainly admire others and their success and I can certainly admire someone’s car…their home…their business…but it is just that…ADMIRATION, not jealousy or envy. I am truly happy for the person and if anything, I want to talk to them and possibly learn from them.

My buddy who is in the depths of a very unpleasant situation is a very successful young man…VERY successful. The nature of his work puts him in the public eye…the overall public eye.  Someone has questioned his success and questioned his integrity, in my opinion, clearly out of jealousy and envy of his success, happiness and possessions.

The electronic world we live in where blogs and websites allow for anonymous judgements and attacks on character only gives these people a vehicle to propagate their attacks and accusations. I am always blown away how some find it so easy to call for someone’s firing or leave derogatory and often false statements about people they don’t even know, seemingly without any thought or concern that the subject of their post is a human being with a family and bills to pay just like everybody else!

The old saying that “money is the root of all evil” is just wrong on so many levels.

Money is a good thing…I believe what the character, Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street said is true…”greed is good.”

I say that somewhat tongue in cheek but I do believe a healthy desire for success and all that it brings is a VERY good thing…it motivates…it inspires…it drives!

In my own experience and in what my friend is experiencing, money DID have something to do with it for sure…it was the jealousy and envy of my and my friend’s money, our success, possessions, etc.

And in my case, it was someone’s perception of my success…they didn’t really know me, they didn’t know how I EARNED my success and the fruits of that success…but they were jealous and envious of it and it consumed them. Instead of my success motivating them, it angered them…and this obviously says much about the character of my protagonist.

My success, or again, perceived success, only brought into light this person’s own failures and unhappiness and if I was successful and happy, well, in that person’s mind, I must have done something wrong to get it. I believe this is a common trait in all who become angered and consumed by jealousy and envy of someone else.

How sad…

I have purposely not used the word victim in describing myself or my friend…although the word’s definition does have some meaning in this context, I will not allow myself to be a victim. My life…my character…my integrity is what ultimately prevailed in my case and I’m sure the same will be true for my friend.

Why did I write this article? What purpose does it serve?

Admittedly for me this might be what some call “closure.” I have been thinking about addressing this subject in some way for years now so it may simply be that for me…closure.

I never for one moment thought this article could save someone else from what I experienced …I got a pretty good ego but it ain’t that big. My goal here is completely self-awareness and self-improvement. I don’t EVER want to be the person on the other side of the story…the one that is jealous and envious.


See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.








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Q3 2016 ESPCO Newsletter


If you are under the age of 40, you probably don’t know who Archie Bunker is…keep reading, I’ll get to it.

I have been talking and writing about this subject for over 20 years now…this article is my attempt to wrap up 20+ years of sentiment, emotion and effort into one tight, neat package…here goes.

We ARE professionals…

I need to stop here for a moment and clearly define for you what I believe a “professional “ to be…better yet, let me give you the definition that my grandparents gave the word…your grandparents, the general population of the United States circa 1900.

When Edward McDarby came to the United States from County Kildare, Ireland on the ship Arabic and his soon to be wife, Helen McCarthy on the ship Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1909 and 1910 respectively, they had big dreams not only for themselves, but for the family they were about to create.

As their family grew, eventually to eight children, they saw those in their community who held the highest stature and wanted that for their children. My grandparents told my mother, my aunts and uncles, that they wanted them to become “professionals.”

What did that mean in the early 1900’s? It meant a lawyer, a judge, a doctor…and a pipefitter…yes, a tradesman was held in that regard. A pipefitter at that time encompassed many trades…plumbing, heating, air conditioning…the later of which was still in its infancy.

Proof of this cannot be better exemplified than in a poster created for an ad campaign for the American Standard Company back in 1924.

This was NO joke…the tradesman literally on a pedestal, the thankful and reverent public below.

We must not forget that the trades, OUR trade, built this country…this is NOT an overstatement but rather a reality. The health of this nation was / is protected by the plumber… if you doubt that just look at under developed countries today ravaged with disease because of little to no sanitation and clean drinking water.

Central heating and eventually, cooling systems as well as ventilation systems not only brought comfort to the lives of the general population, but provided healthy living and working environments that staved off bacteria and airborne contaminants.

The DNA of our trade…our DNA…is rooted in the development of the GREATEST nation in the world…the United States of America!

So, here we are in the year 2016 and I find it necessary to inform the young people of our trade of this history…a history lost to many and just a distant memory to a few.

What happened? Why is our trade no longer held in this same regard?

Here’s my take…

This didn’t happen overnight…I will start where the trades came into my own consciousness…the 1970’s.

In 1971 I was 10 years old. A new TV show was premiering on CBS called, “All In The Family”.

Now, I’m not going to get into the premise of the show…you young guys can Wikipedia the title and read all about it on your own…this show was my first exposure to a tradesman being ridiculed, minimized and characterized in a less than flattering manner.

Archie Bunker, the main character of the show, had a wife named Edith and she had a cousin Amelia whose husband, Russ DeKuyper, was a plumber. Russ was depicted as a boisterous, wealthy braggart who took over his father in-law’s successful plumbing business. Archie despised Russ and would say things like “Russ made his money ripping off his customers” and that he “has his hands in toilets all day.”

In 1986 I was 25 years old and a movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long premiered called, “The Money Pit.”

The movie depicted a couple who buy their first home and subsequently endure one home related disaster after another. NO trade was spared in the movie…construction, plumbing, electrical, HVAC…all depicted as thieves and idiots who do nothing but require huge sums of money and do shabby work if they do any work at all.

Let me try and go back before my time…how about a painting by Norman Rockwell called “The Plumbers”, circa 1951.

It depicts two Laurel & Hardy type characters as plumbers. I think the image speaks for itself.

This Rockwell work first appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on June 2, 1951. The US Postal Service in the 90’s used this Norman Rockwell image to create a framed re-issue of three stamps dedicated to the trades and water conservation.

Need I say more? Are you getting where I’m going with this?

Look, I’m not so naïve to think a television show, a movie or a painting is the cause of the lost reputation of our trade but I will more than suggest that the culmination of all the above and more, attributed to the decline of our reputation.

We didn’t help our own cause either…

I was somewhere recently on my way to an airport…a typical day for me…and passed a plumbing firm’s location that was named, “The Honest Plumber.”


Seems innocent enough but can’t you see what calling yourself “The Honest Plumber” implies? It implies all the other plumbers are dishonest!

Am I over sensitive about this…maybe.

Here is my bottom line…

We need to work toward regaining the stature our trade rightfully enjoyed almost 100 years ago.

We ARE professionals. We deserve to be treated like professionals. We deserve to earn professional wages.

There is responsibility that comes with this…if we want to be seen and treated as professionals we must act like professionals.  I make this statement in every mini split class I conduct. I weave this mission of mine into the discussion of proper equipment sizing. A “professional job” starts with proper sizing…a proper ACCA Manual J calculation.

I’m speaking to the young people of our trade directly here…

Whether you made a conscious decision to enter this trade or you fell into it by accident, you ultimately made a wise decision.  While all your buddies who thought they were so smart going into “computers” sit at home waiting for a job offer, you are out making good money, using both your mind and your hands and continuing in the tradition of an honorable trade. ..a profession!

I charge the young people of our trade to work tirelessly and endlessly to regain what once was…YOU CAN DO IT!

I challenge my contemporaries to keep up the good fight and remember…OUR trade helped to build the GREATEST country on earth!


If you haven’t already, you need to check out a new show on the Velocity channel called, “Iron Resurrection”.

The show features Joe and Jason Martin of Martin Brothers Customs, Johnson City, TX.

These guys are super talented bike and car builders and what I like about the show is that I learn something when I watch it…these guys actually create stuff, not just bolt on stuff if you know what I mean.

You can see the entire first season here.

You can see their website here.

The best part is the Martin brothers and their buddy Shag Arrington are really cool, nice guys and it comes out in the show. NO drama…just a great custom shop with nice people!

See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.
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Q1 2016 ESPCO Newsletter

HVAC contractor liability insurance for acts of terrorism?

It’s that time of year again, when my insurance carrier informs me that they will renew my contractor liability insurance policy and in doing so, send me a copy of the policy along with charges for the same.

This year I looked at the policy a little closer than I normally do and I noticed an item that really jumped out at me. On the very first page with the policy’s total premium was an itemized adder that I never noticed before…a $26.00 charge for something described as follows…



Well, as you could expect, the form was legalese and virtually incomprehensible to anyone but a lawyer…I could tell my own insurance agent wasn’t sure what all of it meant.

Let me just say now that this article is NO indictment of my insurance provider or my agent. If you read my newsletter of July / August 2013 you know what a great job these people have done for me in the past and I trust them completely.

OK, back to the point of this article…

After reading the legalese a few times I thought I had a sense of what the policy was saying but I wanted to get my agent’s take on it. I emailed Scott and at first he gave me what I will call legalese-ease…slightly less mumbo-jumbo.

I wasn’t satisfied with that and I told him I really need to understand the policy because I found the inclusion of a rider for an “act of terrorism” for an HVAC contractor’s policy to be interesting…so much so I wanted to write an article about it.

I emailed Scott my take on the policy as I understood it and ultimately he agreed with my assessment. Here it is…

Should my HVAC business be the victim of an “certified act of terrorism” as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security, and the total of all claims for that single act are not greater than $100 billion and my single claim is less than $5 million, then, and only then, would my claim be considered for payment.

So, this is where I feel the conversation gets interesting…

What are the chances of an HVAC contracting business being the target of a terrorist attack? I think we can all agree my little heating and cooling business has little to no chance of being targeted by a terrorist or terrorist group…and think the same is true for your business.

That said, I imagine my business could be what they call “collateral damage” in a terrorist attack but if that were the case I’m probably not going to be around to make a claim. Frankly, we’re probably talking about an event of unprecedented scale.

So, what has the $26.00 bought me? In my humble opinion…NOTHING.

Keep in mind, I do not have the option of declining this additional insurance…if I don’t pay it, my policy is simply not renewed and I can’t operate my business and maintain my license without the insurance.

My agent says my policy has had this rider in the past, I just didn’t notice it before…I’m sure he is right. He also says all insurance companies are adding this to their polices…again, I’m sure he is right.

So, what did the $26.00 get the insurance industry? Approximately $26.5 million!

According to IBISWorld™, one of the world’s leading publishers of business intelligence, there are approximately 102,623 HVAC contractors in the US. If all of them are paying the $26.00 the net result for the insurance industry is approximately $26.5 million!

There should be no surprise to you that there is a federal government ingredient to this…

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act TRIA of 2002, as I understand it, created a shared public and private compensation for insured losses resulting from acts of terrorism. This was done in response to insurance companies refusing to cover acts of terrorism post 9/11 because of the unprecedented damages, ($40 billion), resulting from the attacks of 9/11. The TRIA required insurers to offer terrorism coverage…the key word there being “offer.”

I admit to you that I’m struggling with this. Is this the price we pay post 9/11 to conduct business in our communities? Should I be glad that such insurance exists and just accept it and move on?

It would be easy to vilify the insurance industry and maybe they deserve some skepticism…maybe they have earned it. I don’t think that is what’s bothering me here however…it feels like something much bigger yet less tangible.

Post 9/11 my wife and I haven’t been to an Army football game because getting onto the US Military Academy campus at West Point has become such a hassle. I am in an airport at least twice a week, 7 months out of the year and I am reminded each time of what happened to air travel post 9/11. Watching or reading the news has become a daily lesson in the global consequences of a post 9/11 world.

…and now $26.00 for terrorism insurance.

One more thing which I will absorb and bury into my subconscious and move on from.

There it is…there is the root of why this $26.00 charge is bothering me so. It made me examine how I have changed in the last fifteen years and how much I have unconsciously adapted, absorbed, buried and it saddens me.

No tying this in a nice knot…

The five most common statements you hear about Variable Refrigerant Flow VRF systems….truth or urban legend?

In my April / May 2015 newsletter I started a five part series addressing what I believe are the most common perceptions and misconceptions about VRF systems.

  • VRF is strictly for commercial applications…
  • VRF requires special training…
  • VRF needs to be installed by big contracting companies with an engineer on staff…
  • VRF equipment is very expensive…
  • VRF is new to the U.S. market…

OK…let’s continue with “VRF requires special training”


Virtually every VRF manufacturer has established a prerequisite training program required before one can purchase the equipment…or at least that is how it was supposed to work. The reality is in each of the six VRF trainings I have attended myself, I would estimate that 90% of the class was techs and installers who had already installed a VRF system and / or were servicing a system they inherited. The manufacturers were all well intended but the reality was that commercial systems were specified, jobs were awarded and deadlines had to be met and a “we’ll get the training later” attitude prevailed.

The bottom line is special training is required for VRF to be installed correctly.

Joseph Runyon, former president of the Tennessee Valley ASHRAE chapter, had a great post this past August in the VRF and Ductless HVAC Technology group of LinkedIn titled, “Consulting Engineers’ Increasing Reluctance to Design with VRF/VRV.”

Here is an excerpt from Joseph’s post…

“As the outgoing president of our local ASHRAE Chapter, I recently attended the Regional Conference serving as the Delegate. Our region is comprised of chapters from 7 Southern states. During the 3 days of the Conference, I made it a point to talk with consulting engineers during breaks and social settings. I repeatedly asked the same question and received basically the same answer.

Question: ‘How many projects are you designing using VRF/VRV?’

Answer: ‘I have only used it 2 times.’

Follow up question: ‘Why?’

Common answer: ‘It is more than obvious that contractors do NOT know how to install these systems. Now I have very unhappy client with a system that either does not perform as it should.’

Let me repeat their common answer as to why they are no longer designing with VRF/VRV. ‘It is more than obvious that contractors do NOT know how to install these systems.’

Because we are often called in to work on many disasters, I can vouch for these frustrated engineers.

Regardless of the quality of the product, it is only as good as the installing contractor. Let’s face it; quality sells! Manufacturers provide a reliable Product… But the quality of that Product is determined by the last hand to touch it”.

You can see Joseph’s post in its entirety along with comments from other group members at this address…

I think I have uncovered one of the problems with VRF training that may be keeping installers from attending classes. Most industry VRF classes are multi day affairs. As business people, it’s hard for us to get away for one day nevertheless two or three.

Having attended several industry VRF classes to date, one common theme which keeps coming back to me is this…”why do manufacturers have multi day training classes that if they were conducted efficiently and courteously, they could be done in a single, full day of instruction?”

Virtually all the VRF manufacturers are guilty of this.

By “conducted courteously,” I mean that I find it highly discourteous when anyone wastes an installer’s time under the guise of “training.” I take the time you spend with me VERY seriously and I do everything in my power to make the 3 – 4 hours I have with you productive…and have a little fun while we do it, of course!

I am determined to create a single, full day curriculum for my VRF class. I am convinced four hours in the morning with one break and four hours in the afternoon with one break is all that will be required.

The last VRF class I attended was billed as two full days of instruction, (8:30AM – 5:00PM for two days). The reality was 9:00AM – 2:00PM with a half dozen breaks each day.  NOT cool…not cool at all!

AHR Expo, January 25 – 27, Orlando, Florida:

I will be attending the AHR Expo in Orlando at the end of the month. I will be in the GREE booth #2474 …

Monday, January 25 from 2PM – 6PM
Tuesday, January 26 from 10AM – 2PM
Wednesday, January 27 from 1PM – 4PM

Please drop by the booth and say hello if you’re at the show.

New class dates posted:

Please keep an eye on my website for new mini split class dates and locations being posted. I am booked through the end of May 2016 covering 8 states working with my friends at Baker Distributing and Gemaire. The class has been completely retooled for 2016 covering all new products and features!

Congratulations to the 2015 ACHR The News Trainer of the year:

As the 2014 trainer of the year as awarded by the ACHR The News magazine, it brings me great joy to congratulate the 2015 recipient…John Barba of Taco. John is a great friend and a great trainer. You can read all about John at this address…

A great website for car guys / gals:

If you’re a car guy / gal, I strongly recommend you check out the website, and sign up for their daily emails. I’m a big time car guy and my wife actually discovered this site, (she is a big time car gal). I pride myself in knowing a fair amount about fairly obscure autos from around the world but BAT each day turns me onto something I have never seen before and that is so cool!

See you soon!


The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.

Posted in News | Comments Off on Q1 2016 ESPCO Newsletter

August / September 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

A lesson learned from a recent multi-zone mini split installation.

I recently installed a two zone mini split heat pump in my auto mechanic’s shop, (see the next article about what I call “trade bartering”). It was a fairly straight forward job…one 9K evaporator in a small customer waiting area and one 12K evaporator in an office with three desks. The waiting room evap is mounted on an outside wall so lineset, cord and drain runs were quite easy. The office evap was on an interior wall and required the installation of a condensate pump…I used the Aspen Mini Blanc, (see a following article for more detail). Lineset, cord and drain runs were made somewhat easy as I had access to an attic space above the office which had direct access to the same outside wall that the waiting room evap was on and the outdoor unit ODU was just below.

When I went to my local supplier for installation accessories like the linesets, disconnect and whip, I was given a non-fused disconnect. I have always been a “belt and suspenders” guy so I have preferred using a fused disconnect but when I requested one, I was told that my supplier only had the non-fused type. I shrugged my shoulders, accepted what they had and didn’t think much of it again.

The equipment installed with little trouble and I was ready to power it up. This was the week of 7/26/15 and the local New York weather report for the week was calling for record heat by mid-week so the installation of the AC could not have come at a better time.

Well, everything went downhill when I powered up the system for the first time.

I placed the pull-out head in the disconnect box and the system began operating…but not for long. The evaps powered up, fans were running and the indoor unit IDU LED screens were indicating the compressor was ramping up, (inverter compressor)…so far so good.

Less than 5 minutes into initial start-up, the system shut down…EVERYTHING was off.

I checked for power at L1 & L2 of the ODU…I had 234 volts.

I pulled the disconnect head out and then back in to reset the power…I also pulled the top cover off the ODU so I could view the LED screen of the ODU to see if it was displaying an error code. Once the disconnect head was replaced, the ODU LED should 00 for exactly 30 seconds, then a P6 error code appeared just before the unit shut down completely. I again checked power to the ODU at L1 and L2 and once again it should 234 volts.

According to the equipment manufacturer, P6 error code represents, “IPM module protection”. The first step in the service manual’s diagnostic chart for the P6 error code was to check the ODU for correct voltage…220 – 240 volts. Once again I confirmed I had 234 volts at L1 and L2 of the ODU.

I consulted directly with the manufacturer in China, (I am lucky enough to have contacts within the major Chinese manufacturers of mini splits). I was told to replace the IPM…and if that didn’t work, replace the main board…and if that didn’t work, replace the compressor.


I kept at it, exhausting what I thought were all possible causes for this problem, less replacing boards and the compressor.

I was out of options when for reasons I can’t fully explain, when replacing the disconnect pull out head for now what was about the 50th time, I decided to hold it in place…putting pressure on the head as I held it.

The system ran!

As soon as I let go of the disconnect head, thirty seconds later the ODU displayed P6 and the system shut down.

The disconnect was the source of my problem…THE DISCONNECT!

I turned off power to the disconnect via the breaker and then began to disassemble the disconnect box. What I found was that when the box was assembled, the stationary portion of the disconnect was torqued so that when I placed the pull out head in it, it made a poor connection…it was loose!

I reassembled the disconnect without torqueing and now the pull out head was solidly in its place.

I powered up the system and voila…it ran like a champ!

In all my years I never had a disconnect be the source of such a problem!

There were clues right from the start that I should have paid closer attention too…

#1) I never felt the disconnect pull out head was seating properly…it always felt a bit loose.

#2) Each time I would replace the pull out head, I would hear a crackling noise…clearly and indication of a poor connection being made.

#3) One time, after pulling the disconnect head out, I noticed the copper tabs which make the connection in the box were now black…another indication of jumping voltage, (poor connection).

#4) The P6 error code was telling me what I needed to know but I wasn’t listening…neither was the manufacturer for that matter. The IPM was in deed being protected as designed. Remember what the service manual had me check first…voltage to the ODU!

Here is where sometimes it gets tough to clearly see what is right in front of you.

Remember every time the system would shut down, I would check for voltage at L1 and L2 of the ODU and every time without fail I had 234 volts. The problem is I was taking that reading AFTER the system had shut down…there was NO load and the system was pulling NO amps in that state! Once I reset the power at the disconnect, had I taken a reading at L1 and L2 during the 30 seconds that the system was trying to start, I would have seen the problem!

Something I call “Trade Bartering”.

I have completed two mini split installations at the shop of my auto mechanic, (and friend). In both cases NO money changed hands between us…we did a little old fashion bartering!

Let me first explain why such an arrangement with my auto mechanic would appeal to me…

My wife and I have a total of 8 vehicles. We are car people for sure and 5 of the 8 are hot rods, dune buggies and a British sports car. The other three are our everyday drivers…my Ford Transit Connect, an old Chevy Blazer that we use as a “beater” and affectionately call it “Murphy’s truck”, (Murphy is our 11 year old Basset Hound), and my wife’s Cadillac CTS.

I do most of the work on the 5 fun cars myself but every once in a while something comes up that is out of my wheelhouse and I need help from our mechanic who after more than 25 years of doing business is a friend as well as business associate.

Well, about a year ago I noticed one of those nasty portable AC units in my friend’s office…and I had a thought. I told him I would install a single zone mini split to cool, (and heat), his office in return for a mutually agreed “store credit” for my wife and myself…he agreed!

Well, a year went by and he was doing yet another renovation to his shop…an upgrade to the customer waiting area and a new office area where customers first come in and talk with an advisor, (this is the job I just wrote about in the previous article).

I love that skilled tradespeople can barter like this for mutually beneficial results. Think about this in your own world…we all have buddies who are electricians, auto mechanics, skilled construction workers…all who can benefit from your skills and vice versa.

I know what you thinking…”this is a good way to LOSE a friend”.

Yeah…maybe…but remember, no money is changing hands and all that is being exchanged is your skills and labor.

Think about it next time you need something done by a fellow tradesperson…I think it’s a cool alternative to writing a check!

A few new items I used on my latest mini split install.

I may have discovered the recipe for a flawless flare each and every time…

First, I use the Yellow Jacket 60278 deluxe 45 degree flaring tool. The 60278 is good for tubing diameters from 1/8” to ¾”. It is specifically designed for R-410A systems.

The best feature of the 60278 is the automatic tube height gauge which does not let you go beyond an integral stop, making sure your flare is perfect every time.

You can see the Yellow Jacket 60278 at this web address…

The next ingredient for a perfect flare is Nylog by Refrigeration Technology. Now keep an open mind here because what I’m about to tell you will run counter to everything you ever learned about making a flare.

Nylog is a gasket, thread sealant and assembly lube which is HFC refrigerant compatible. It is a viscoelastic liquid derived from refrigeration grade lubricants. You place Nylog directly on the face of the flare as well as on threads and the back of the flare. Placing anything on the face of the flare has been a big NO-NO but not with Nylog.

I use Nylog Blue for my R-410A mini split systems. It creates a seal that will never dry out and / or harden and will not clog.

You can see more about Nylog Blue at this address and click on the YouTube link to see a video about it…

I have been a big fan of the Aspen Mini Aqua condensate pump…you have probably seen the video I created on the installation of the Mini Aqua in a mini split evaporator on the ESPCO website and my LinkedIn profile.

My last mini split install, (the one in the auto repair shop I described earlier), called for one of the evaporators to be placed on an interior wall. I decided to try the Aspen Mini Blanc. The Mini Blanc does not integrate into the evaporator like the Mini Aqua does, but rather sits just below the evaporator. The kit comes with everything you need to install the Mini Blanc but the discharge tubing…you will need to provide ¼” diameter clear tubing.

The voltage requirement for the Mini Blanc is 100 – 250 volts so throw anything at it within that range and it will work…PERFECT for inverter systems!

Like the Mini Aqua, the Mini Blanc powers off L1 & L2 of the evaporator. The pump also has a normally closed switch that I placed in series within the communication cable from the ODU to the IDU. Now this too runs counter to what most mini split manufacturers will tell you about the communication cable between the ODU and the IDU…generally, they want an uninterrupted run of cable between the two. I can tell you definitively that as long as you make your connection on the pump and the communication cable with a butt type splice connector you will be fine…DO NOT USE WIRE NUTS! This wiring configuration will stop the IDU from operating should the pump fail…and that’s a good thing!

You can see the Mini Blanc at the following address and watch the video on the site as well…

A BIG move for me!

Approximately three months ago I accepted the position of Director of Training for Watsco, Inc. of Coconut Grove, FL. You may not know the Watsco name but they are the largest distributor of HVAC equipment in North America. Watsco consists of five major subsidiaries…

Baker Distributing
East Coast Metals
Homans Associates
Carrier Enterprises

Watsco also has several E-commerce based businesses such as Tradewinds and AC Doctor. Their stock is publically traded on the New York Stock Exchange, (WSO symbol), and have annual sales exceeding $3.9 billion dollars.

As the Director of Training I will be working with the training departments of each of the subsidiaries as well as developing corporate training initiatives…the first of which is based on Variable Refrigerant Flow VRF technology. It is my goal to work with our VRF vendors as well as our internal staff to develop the industry’s best VRF training!

As a result of joining Watsco, my work at ESPCO will now be limited to this newsletter. I will keep the ESPCO website active by using it as a vehicle to promote Watsco sponsored training events around North America as well as a place to post new videos related to my activities and products within Watsco.

This is an exciting time for me…an opportunity to help build a training vehicle of unprecedented and unlimited growth with a team of the best trainers our industry has to offer…WOW!

I haven’t forgotten the next installment of my five part series of articles titled, The five most common statements you hear about Variable Refrigerant Flow VRF systems….truth or urban legend? The next installment will be addressing VRF training and to that end, I have been attending VRF training events conducted by the major VRF manufacturers all around the country. In the interest of fair reporting, I still have a few more to attend and I want to have as much research completed as possible before I write the next installment. My goal is to have this for you in my next newsletter in October.


See you soon!


The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.


Posted in News | Comments Off on August / September 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

April / May 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

One of the most common questions I get when conducting mini split training classes is…”can you put electric back-up heat in a mini split evaporator?”

The answer is YES!

My newest “training partner” are the fine people of ECR International of Utica, NY who, among a variety of hydronic oriented products, offer a complete line of mini split products under the EMI brand and possibly the most unique among them is the E-verter mini split product.

The E-verter evaporator is available in a traditional wall mount unit, a ceiling cassette and a universal mount unit. Capacities are 9, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36K all utilizing inverter compressor technology so for example; the 9K unit actually has an operating range of 3,000 BTUH on the low end and 9,000 BTUH on the high end. Reference the September/October 2012 ESPCO newsletter if you need a refresher on inverter technology…you can read it in the ESPCO archives at this address;

The E-verter is limited to single zone applications and has a maximum lineset length of 100 feet…enough to get you just about anywhere you need to be. All capacities and evaporator choices are available in cooling only or heat pump with cooling down to 32°F Outdoor Air Temperature ODAT and heating down to 0°F ODAT. All models are 208 – 230 volt with SEER ranging from 14 to 17, three models eligible for ‘Energy Star’ benefits.

OK…all good stuff but I bet I know what you’re thinking right now…”so what?”

In my opinion, what sets the E-verter product apart from ALL other mini splits is the E-boost heating option. Check this out…

E-boost is a 3kW, (10,236 BTUH), or 5kW, (17,060 BTUH), electric heat option built right into the E-verter evaporator unit…no matter if it’s a wall hung, ceiling cassette or universal mount. The only change this option makes for the installer is a separate 230 volt circuit is required for the indoor unit IDU.

Possibly the most common objection to mini splits as heating appliances has been the heat pump’s operating ODAT limitation…in this case 0°F. But, what if the IDU had an electric back-up heat element factory installed…well, here it is!

I believe the E-boost option is valuable wherever a mini split will be used for heating but in areas where there is a low kW/hr cost, it is in my opinion, a no brainer!

According to the US Energy Information Administration EIA website, as of January, 2015, there were 11 states with kW/hr rates in the single digits and 22 more states with kW/hr rates lower than the national average.

You can see the data at the this address;

According to the Ontario Hydro website, as of May, 2013, there are three Canadian provinces with kW/hr rates in the single digits and another two just over the national average.

You can see the data at this address;

Although EMI has primarily marketed the E-verter product for “light commercial” applications, I see the E-verter having a place in many residential applications.

OK, I will admit that the wall mount IDU is a bit obtrusive compared to mini split evaporators without back-up heat capability but, the benefit of the E-boost option in areas where heat is needed and temps drop below 0°F far out ways any initial esthetic objection. I guarantee you on a sub-zero night in Vancouver the E-verter will look downright beautiful!

I see a great market for the E-verter with E-boost in vacation homes…cabins, cottages and chalets where esthetics is substantially less important than performance and comfort.

Sure, the E-verter does indeed lend itself more toward the light commercial market but many great products and applications have been brought from one market segment to another with great success over the years. Our goal as HVACR installers and technicians is to provide our customers with options…economical, efficient and versatile options for all their comfort needs.

You can see the E-verter product and all the great EMI mini split products at the following address;

Check out the ESPCO website for upcoming EMI sponsored mini split classes in Michigan and New York coming very soon!

The five most common statements you hear about Variable Refrigerant Flow VRF systems….truth or urban legend?

Over the next five newsletters, I want to address each of the following common perceptions and misconceptions about VRF systems.

  • VRF is strictly for commercial applications…

  • VRF requires special training…

  • VRF needs to be installed by big contracting companies with an engineer on staff…

  • VRF equipment is very expensive…

  • VRF is new to the U.S. market…

OK…let’s start with “VRF is strictly for commercial applications.”


As I address the five issues individually, I will try to use a different VRF manufacturer…let’s start with the Mitsubishi Series S.

The Series S ODU comes in a 36, 48 or 60K capacity…very typical residential sizes I would say. ODU’s are 208-230 volt, single phase so their electrical requirement is no more than a typical unitary or non-VRF ODU.

IDU’s offer a variety of capacities, (6K – 54K), a variety of configurations, (wall mount, ceiling cassette, ceiling suspended, ceiling concealed and floor standing), all which can be mixed and matched for a maximum of 12 IDU’s on a single ODU, (8 more than most ductless multi-zone mini split systems).

You can install as little as 50% of the ODU capacity or as much as 130% of the ODU capacity in IDU’s…for example;

A 48K ODU can have as little as 24K in IDU’s installed, (4 X 6K IDU = 24K), or it can have as much as 62.4K in IDU’s installed, (one 18K, one 15K, one 12K and two 6K IDU’s = 57K).

VRF in residential applications can be a win / win for both home owner and installer…let’s start with you…

VRF greatly simplifies both the lineset run and electrical wiring for the installing contractor. You read it correctly…SIMPLIFIES!

Instead of running 12 separate and unique lineset runs to each IDU, the VRF system gives the installer the choice of either running a singular loop of refrigerant with each evaporator installed in series along the loop, or you can use a header within the home with the header connected to the ODU via a singular lineset and then all IDU’s connected to the header in a tentacle type of configuration. Both approaches allow for a total lineset length of 492’, (this includes vertical differentials).

Either way, lineset installation is greatly simplified and more easily managed and concealed.

Electrical wiring is similar, and as simple, as the lineset. A singular circuit runs from the ODU to power each IDU in series.

Possibly the greatest advantage to both the system designer and installer is the lack of ductwork. Think about this…with the ability to install up to 12 IDU’s, now you can retrofit an entire home with central cooling and heating with NO ductwork if that is what you design, (concealed IDU’s will require minimal ducting)…and beyond retrofit, now new construction is a real option!

Designing and installing ductwork for many of us has been the scariest aspect of central air systems…a mistake on the design side is difficult to correct once installed and for most of us it’s a different trade…I’m not a tin knocker!

Residential VRF systems take the source of the greatest concern for most of us right off the table…ductwork!

Now for the homeowner…

Besides the obvious benefits of zoning, concealed IDU choices and a single ODU instead of the “condenser farm” some larger homes unfortunately have to deal with…possibly the most interesting benefit to the homeowner is the Mitsubishi City Multi Controls Network CMCN.

Homeowners like “bells and whistles”…we all like bells and whistles! CMCN gives the homeowner the ability to remotely control their home’s climate via laptop, pads / tablets and smarts phones…NICE!

You can see two VRF residential case studies at the Mitsubishi website at theses addresses;

Look, as business owners we all need to constantly be expanding our repertoire so we have new and profitable revenue sources available as the economy both rises and falls…VRF can, and should be a revenue source for you no matter how big or small your company is and no matter if you are strictly residential or not. There is NOTHING to be afraid of here….really!

Remember the TV show, “The Waltons”?

Have you noticed there is virtually nothing on TV which either has every other word bleeped, has content so violent it makes you nauseous and  / or is interrupted every 5 minutes by  pharmaceutical ads so disturbing that that you would rather have the ailment than live with the side effects?

I will share with you one of my latest guilty pleasures….it’s “The Waltons”!

The Hallmark channel re-runs the show from the ‘70’s, “The Waltons”, every evening between
5 – 8PM.

Look, I’m no prude and I admit I discovered the Hallmark channel while surfing from the Discovery channel to the Velocity channel, but it is refreshing to see a show based on life during and after the depression with characters that care for, and help each other rather than a show based on a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies.

Give “The Waltons” a look…it will be our secret!


Patrick McDarby of Pyramid Designs passed away on March 14 at the age of 57.

You may not know Pat by name by I guarantee you his work is in your home, on your kid’s back and in virtually every store in the US.

As a graphic designer, Pat designed the logos for virtually every professional sports team that changed its logo in the ‘90’s. The Rangers of the NHL, the Nets of the NBA and the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL…just to name a few.

Pat designed product packaging for foods that are in your kitchen pantry right now.

You can read an article the NY Times ran about Pat’s life and accomplishments at this address;

My personal connection with Pat is that he designed all my company logos including ESPCO’s. He had the unique ability to take a few ideas that I had and make them real…and better than I had imagined.

Pat was also my cousin.

I love the ESPCO logo and now every time I see it I will think of Pat…

See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.


Posted in News | Comments Off on April / May 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

February / March 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

Do “waterside economizers” with commercial water source heat pumps really save energy?

In a recent class on Commercial Water Source Heat Pumps (CWSHP), the subject of “WaterSide Economizers WSE” came up in a couple questions from the audience. I have to admit I did not have a lot of experience with these components so, as usual, after the class I began my research.

If you don’t have a lot of experience with CWSHP in general, I suggest going back to my first newsletter of 2014, (January / February), and read it as a prerequisite to this article. You can simply click on the “What’s New” tab in the upper menu bar on my website and scroll down to the January / February 2014 newsletter.

Structurally, the WSE adds a water coil and a 3-way valve to the CWSHP. The following is from a TraneEngineer’s Newsletter, Volume 63-2;

“During cold weather, the heat pumps serving perimeter zones often operate in heating mode and absorb heat from the water loop, which lowers the loop temperature. If the loop water temperature is allowed to drift down further than normal—to 45°F (7°C), for example—a waterside economizer coil can be used to provide ‘free cooling’ for interior zones. When the loop water is cool enough, a three-way valve diverts the water through the waterside economizer coil to cool the entering air, reducing (or avoiding) the need to operate the compressor. The three-way valve allows the economizer coil to be bypassed when not in use, saving pump energy. And, unlike other systems, no cooling tower energy is used to create the colder water; just the heat pumps serving the perimeter zones that are already operating in the heating mode.”

Well this all sounds like a “no-brainer”! Who wouldn’t want a WSE on their CWSHP? Well, I’ll tell you…

Two of the biggest players in the CWSHP market, ClimateMaster & WaterFurnace, in a presentation they co-authored back in 2006 expressed some real concerns about the true value of WSE.

As they put it, “there is no free lunch” and there are consequences for the addition of WSE…some of these consequences are as follows;

  • On the water side, the 3-way valves increase pumping head.
    Now, for those of us who are wetheads, we can get our heads, (excuse the pun), around this. In my class, I go through the procedure to size the pump for these systems and pressure drop through components, (like the heat exchanger of the CWSHP), must be taken into account. The increased pumping head will increase the size of the pump which will increase the cost of the pump and also increase the operating cost of the pump…it’s a slippery slope!
  • On the air side, the addition of a coil can increases fan motor head.
    Just like pumps move water, fans move air, and putting stuff in its way, (like another coil), will adversely affect the fan motor’s ability to move air at a design criteria / CFM.
  • Reduced heat recovery from core to perimeter zones.
    Ah…this is a good one! As I have discussed in my earlier newsletter, the magic of CWSHP systems is simultaneous heating and cooling. However, in the case where WSE are installed, the rejected BTU’s from the zones that are cooling will be reduced, thus reducing the BTU’s in the hydronic fluid loop servicing perimeter zones that are heating…reducing their efficiency.

In their research, three example cities were chosen, (Seattle, WA, Madison, WI and Boston, MA), to conduct simulation tests using two sample buildings…one with WSE and the other without.  The Seattle, WA example, the building with WSE realized a 3% INCREASE in operating costs. The lion’s share of the additional cost came in the increase in natural gas consumed to fire the boiler used to add BTU’s to the hydronic loop when those CWSHP in the cooling mode were not rejecting enough BTU’s to satisfy the perimeter CWSHP that were in the heating mode….got it?

The Madison, WI example, the building with the WSE recognized a 2% INCREASE in operating cost.
The Boston, MA example, the building with the WSE recognized a 3% INCREASE in operating cost.

The conclusions of the research showed the following;

  • There is little benefit gained from using waterside economizers.
  • Small decreases in electrical use are offset by significant increases in natural gas consumption.
  • There were some climates where small energy cost savings could be realized but nowhere close to the additional cost of the WSE.
  • Economizers in perimeter zones are almost never energized.

So, when we look a little closer, all of a sudden it’s not a “no brainer” any more.  The problem is there are states, cities and municipalities who had enacted codes requiring WSE on CWSHP installed within their jurisdictions.

Hmmm…what a surprise…government mandates causing the exact OPPOSITE of the intended result!

Don’t get me started…

Water to air vs. water to water geothermal systems…the later doesn’t feel the love!

Have you noticed that water to water geothermal systems just don’t seem to get the attention that water to air systems do…I have!

Ok…I have to take my wethead hat off and try to be objective here.

I understand that the majority of geothermal installations are water to air…doesn’t make me happy but this is the reality. It is the reality because the majority of the US outside of New England and the Mid-Atlantic region is a “warm air” market.

That said…I find it annoying that some geothermal manufacturers barely acknowledge the water to water market.

Let me give you an example…

In my geothermal class, I have been using my shop here in Orange County, NY as the sizing example for several years now. The software I use allows for me to design a water to water system, (my shop has an existing low temperature radiant floor system),  and the software has a feature which allows you to compare the geo system you design to 5 other fuels / systems…none of which are hydronic…UGH!

This is a wonderful feature but fairly useless to those of us in the northeast.

Well, leave it to the fine people at Radiant Professionals Alliance RPA to come to the rescue of water to water geothermal.

The 10/27/14 issue of the ACHR The News had an article titled “RPA, IGSHPA Agree To Cross Promote Ground Source Heat Pumps”…here is an excerpt;

The Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA) and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to cross promote the application of ground source heat pump technology where it overlaps with radiant heating and cooling systems.

The two organizations will collaborate to develop education courses pertaining to ‘low temperature’ radiant heating and cooling applications and train IGSHPA instructors to effectively deliver education on these ultra-efficient systems. According to the organizations, ground source heat pumps represent a significant increase in energy efficiency when coupled with the comfort and efficiency associated with hydronic-based radiant heating and cooling systems.”


As a “certified IGSHPA installer and trainer” myself, I hope to be a part of this cooperative initiative to spread the good word of water to water geothermal systems..not only here in the northeast but well beyond!

Think about where radiant floor systems were here in the US just a short time ago…I can remember when there was just a handful of radiant zealots who designed and installed radiant floor heat. Fast forward, and now virtually every HVACR wethead has done at least one radiant job and most of us have made it a significant part of our day to day business.

The wide success of radiant systems came, in my opinion, from knocking down what I call the “walls of fear.” The average tech was scared…yes scared…to get underneath a floor and start installing tubing…and it was tubing, NOT pipe!

I like to think that I along with other technical trainers like John Barba, Wes Sisco and Dave Holdorf, helped to tear down the wall of fear in the radiant world, allowing that market to grow and prosper.

The “wall of fear” for most technicians when it comes to geothermal is the ground heat exchanger…we are not drillers…we don’t own drilling rigs…there is seemingly a lot to be afraid of there.

Come to my geothermal class…let me help you get beyond the mystery of geothermal and unlock its incredible potential for your business, for your customers and for the environment!

I had the honor of giving an award at the AHR EXPO in Chicago this past month!

I was beyond thrilled when I was asked to hand out an award for the most classes conducted within their territory as well as the most technicians trained for 2014 to my good friends, Greg Moore and John Forbes at Southland Marketing, Inc.

The most impressive aspect to this award in my opinion is the most technicians trained…it’s not necessarily hard to schedule a lot of training classes…it is VERY hard to get fannies in the seats and Greg and John did an incredible job at both!

If you are a manufacturer who needs a rep in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and the Carolinas, you should do yourself a favor and meet the crew from SMI. These guys are not your typical manufacturer’s reps…they are technical people who happen to sell…and sell they do!

You can see a picture of the award ceremony here.

Gerry is recognized as ACHR The News 2014 Best Trainer!

I am thrilled to be honored by the trade journal, ACHR The News, as the 2014 Best Trainer. I want to thank all those who nominated me as well as those who participated in the wonderful article that Jen Anesi, editor from The News,wrote about me, (November 24, 2014 issue). Jen actually took the time to visit with me and attend a class I conducted at the Keystone University in Gilbertsville, PA. Keystone U is the training entity of Keystone Sales & Associates, my good friend, Bob DellaSala’s agency who did a great job hosting the class.

If you missed the article, you can go to the ESPCO website and click on the red banner at the top of any page…it will link you to The News website and the article titled. “Best Trainer Lets His Personality Shine”. You can also click on the “MEDIA” tab on the upper tool bar of any page and then click on “VIDEOS” to view the video about the award.

ESPCO re-boot for 2015!

I am excited to announce that I will have all new “training partners” for 2015. Keep an eye on the ESPCO website for updates on new curriculum being offered in 2015 all around the US, Canada and Latin America.

See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.


Posted in News | Comments Off on February / March 2015 ESPCO Newsletter


Click here to read about Gerry in the 11/24/14 issue ACHR The News

Posted in News | Comments Off on THE NEWS 2014 BEST TRAINER

November / December 2014 ESPCO Newsletter

Mini splits in computer server rooms…good idea?

I get asked a lot about one of the most common commercial applications of mini splits…computer server rooms.

A common concern is the equipment’s ability, (or lack thereof), to cool the room at low outdoor air temperatures. Think about it…a server room needs cooling even when it’s snowing outside.

Let me first address what I’m calling a ‘server room’.

If you’re commercial customer is NASA or the US Army…don’t use a mini split to cool their server room! There is equipment called Precision Air Conditioners PAC which is specifically designed for larger server rooms that are related to critical information and businesses.

The mini split is a fine choice for a small company’s server room or a municipal building with a small server room. If the room is bigger than a utility closet and has rows of computer mainframes…leave it for the PAC guys.

OK…what about the mini split’s ability to cool at low outdoor air temperature?

Let’s use the Comfort-Aire VMH single zone inverter system as our working example. The VMH series can cool down to 5F ODAT. I think that’s pretty darn good but I have had installers express concern about it…what happens when the ODAT drops below 5F? Well, the mini split stops cooling and something else has to take up the load…unless…the outdoor unit of the mini split ain’t outdoors.

Say what?

Well think about it…what says you need to install the outdoor unit outdoors? Just because we call it an ‘outdoor unit’ does not dictate that it MUST be outdoors. If the company has a warehouse area where you can install the outdoor unit, this will eliminate the limitation of the shut off at low ODAT. The warehouse, (assuming its storing non-perishables), is probably kept around 50 – 60F in the winter time…the Comfort-Aire VMH series has a cooling operating range of 5F – 122F ODAT …perfect!

Now please don’t get me wrong here…I’m not suggesting you install the outdoor unit in someone’s attic or basement…this is strictly for commercial applications where dumping some BTUs into a large warehouse will have no adverse effect on occupants and / or product being stored there.

I show pictures in my mini split class of the Heatcontroller warehouse in Jackson, MI where they do just what I described…outdoor units installed in their enormous warehouse…why not?

This concept of outdoor units installed indoors doesn’t come without some things to consider i.e., the outdoor unit when in the HEAT mode will condense and drainage for that condensation must be considered. Also, warehouses tend to be quite dusty…maintenance schedules, (coil cleaning), may need to be adjusted for this factor.

Another concern with mini splits in these applications is reliability. A mini split in a server room is generally working 24/7/365.

Let me start by saying this…other than PACs, no air conditioning system is designed for 24/7/365 use…NONE!

That said…mini splits do tend to do well in these applications but here is my personal feeling about it. I will ALWAYS install two separate and identical mini split systems in a server room for redundancy…it’s not a question of will the system die…it’s when will it die and by having a second identical system installed, the second system simply takes over when the first one’s useful life is over.

Let me be clear…I’m not talking about a dual zone system that has one singular outdoor unit. I’m talking about to separate but identical systems…true redundancy.

Look, each server room application has to be considered for its own unique needs…especially the unique geographic weather conditions of the area. I’m probably not going to install a mini split in the server room at Santa’s workshop at the North Pole but I sure will consider it virtually anywhere in North America…as long as it makes sense based on this discussion.

New classes for 2015!

I have been working with the guy I call the ‘Guru of Motors’, Mr. Chuck Klose of MARS, Inc to create a training curriculum dedicated to their innovative and ‘game changing’ products like the Azure Digi Motor. Our first class, which I will be conducting, beginning in the first quarter of 2015, is titled ‘ECM Motor Technology for HVACR’.

The class will detail and dissect both standard induction motors as well as Electronically Commutated Motors ECM. I will further breakdown the ECM category into ‘constant torque motors’ and ‘variable speed motors’. The class will offer replacement motor solutions not only for HVAC applications but commercial refrigeration applications as well.

I like to think that the collaboration of Chuck and me brings the class attendee a unique blend of what I call Chuck’s ‘brilliance of simplicity’ along with my practical background.

Chuck is one of those rare birds that are clearly brilliant but can relate and communicate his knowledge to the masses…rare indeed!

I, on the other hand, ain’t the sharpest tack in the box but I know how to work with my hands pretty well…Chuck’s brilliance and my practical experience, I believe, brings a unique, fun and comprehensive look to ECM motor technology.

I start my spring 2015 tour on the left coast in February and will be making stops all around the US and Canada through mid-June.

The class is NATE recognized and attendees who are North American Technician Excellence certified can earn credits toward their certification.

Look, the days of taking a dead motor to your local supply house counterman and simply asking for an exact, inefficient, antiquated replacement are long gone…the technology exits to offer your customers efficiency, simplicity and quality and it all exits in the MARS motor product offering.

I’m not going to steal my own thunder here…you’re going to have to come to the class but let me say this…I guarantee you will be surprised what is available in replacement motors and I can show you how to cut down on your replacement motor inventory, both in your shop and in your truck / trucks…you know what that means, don’t you? MORE PROFIT / BETTER SOLUTIONS!

What’s in a hand shake?

Have you ever reached out to shake a man’s hand and got a weak, awkward grip from your shake-mate? Your mind starts racing…do I try and grip his hand more firmly to compensate for his weak grip? Do I try and turn it into a ‘hippy shake’ by inverting the shake into a crossed-hand, outdated hippy greeting? Do I just go with it, possibly leaving the impression with the ‘shakee’ that you’rethe one with the weak shake? Oh, what to do?

I am a believer that a lot can be learned about a man from his hand shake style.

Let me explain…

I didn’t have anyone when I was growing up to teach me the importance of a strong hand shake and the technique. I was very fortunate however, to have a few gentlemen who ultimately changed the course of my life, taught me many things…none the least of which was how to shake another man’s hand.

I’m not suggesting any of my mentors actually tutored me in the art of the hand shake…not sure anybody does that…what they did was teach by example.

Elwood Weaver was the Vice President of Sales for HydroTherm boilers. I often refer to Elwood as ‘my dad’ although we had no biological connection. Elwood was possibly the most influential person in my career and my life in general…I will save the details of that for another time.

Elwood was approximately 6’5” and maybe about 250 lbs…a BIG dude by anyone’s estimation. He was a WWII marine…a veteran of the battle of Guadalcanal. His hands were these humongous mitts…much like a boxer would have. When Elwood shook your hand you knew it…there was no awkwardness to it…he grabbed your hand and YOU shook!

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not suggesting Elwood’s handshake was obnoxious or overpowering…it wasn’t…it was firm, natural, confident and strong. It was Elwood.

There is a family with a legendary hand shake here in the New Jersey / New York area…the Hartel’s.

Fred Hartel and his sons’ Tom and Michael, own and operate JM Hartel & Co of Pearl River, NY.

Growing up in northern New Jersey, Hartel’s was a neighborhood icon…still is! You could tell anyone that you were going to Hartel’s and they knew exactly where you were going. Hartel’s was the plumbing and heating supply house in northern NJ and lower NY.

When Fred, Tom or Mike shakes your hand it is an experience! First they make eye contact with you…then they come toward you at a pretty good pace, (and keep in mind, like Elwood, the Hartel men a big dudes), and then they grab your hand and pull you toward them…and you know what? You move toward them! The shake is powerful…just like their personalities.

The Hartel shake makes you feel special…like they have been waiting to shake your hand for a long time and it’s special to them. Wow! What a great way to greet old friends…make new ones, and express who you are and what you’re all about!

I don’t have a son but I do have two nephews and I’m glad to say each has a strong hand shake when we meet. I wish I could take credit for that but each of them have good examples to learn from in their dads…two very different guys but also two very good men whose personalities come through in their hand shake.

OK…enough. Too much about the simple gesture of shaking hands? Maybe…but the next time you reach out and grab another man’s hand I bet you think about it.


Mr Joseph, ‘Joe’, Beshar former Vice President of Commercial Sales for HydroTherm Boilers passed away on August 26, 2014. Mr. Beshar was the last of his contemporaries from the original HydroTherm boiler company and he will be greatly missed by me and all his friends and family.

Mr. Beshar and Elwood Weaver were business partners but more importantly, they were great friends who cared about each other and took care of each other through their lives.

It’s funny…I knew Mr. Beshar as long as I knew Elwood but I was never comfortable calling him ‘Joe’…he seemed to require a more formal addressing. Mr. Beshar helped me long after our days at HydroTherm by being a resource of information…a connection to the past for me and many others who knew him and appreciated him…and loved him.


See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.


Posted in News | Comments Off on November / December 2014 ESPCO Newsletter