Category - News

December 2011 ESPCO Newsletter


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Posted in News | Comments Off on December 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

November 2011 ESPCO Newsletter


I have been meaning to address a question that has come up a number of times over the years I have been associated with Thermal Solar Systems, (TSS). I first wrote an article that addressed which collector type, (flat plate or vacuum tube), is more susceptible to collecting snow back in the summer of 2009.  The article was very pro vacuum tube based on their superior efficiencies compared to flat plate collectors.  I mentioned that “wind and snow simply pass through the openings between tubes and they are virtually unaffected by wind and snow”.

After the article was published I got a number of calls from readers who disagreed with my assessment. They insisted that because vacuum tubes remain relatively cool to the touch, (ambient temperature), that the tube will in deed collect snow and thus have a greatly reduced efficiency when covered with snow. They supported their theory with the idea that flat plate collectors will be hot to the touch when the sun is shining and as a result will melt snow as it falls and / or soon thereafter.

Well, the summer of 2009, when my article was written and published, pre-dated the installation of a Sunnovations TSS on my home. I went into a lot of detail in last month’s newsletter about Sunnovations but I just want to refresh your memory by saying one of Sunnovation’s claims to fame is that they pull a vacuum on standard flat plate collectors. Vacuum tubes are not an option with the Sunnovations system so when I chose Sunnovations for my own home I knew, despite my previous article expressing the attributes of vacuum tubes, that I would be using flat plate collectors…and I was, (and remain),  fine with that. The many advantages of Sunnovations, again, which I expressed last month, far out weighed any earlier preference with vacuum tubes.

So, back to the original question…does snow accumulate on flat plate collectors?
The answer is YES! ABSOLUTLEY YES! I have photographic proof!

As you know from last month’s newsletter, I live on a mountain in Orange County, NY that is known as Storm King Mountain…and for good reason! We seem to have our own weather system here. We get everything the town gets but in immensely greater quantities! This past weekend was no exception…we got clobbered by the October snow fall and my two 4’ X 8’ collectors were covered with snow for days. This is not the first time this has happened…I actually had to clean the snow off the collectors after a particularly heavy snow last winter with sustained freezing temperatures for weeks after. Last week, because it was still October, the daytime outdoor temperature rose to about 60 degrees during the day so the snow on the collectors melted with no assistance from me in a few days.

I am still a fan of vacuum tubes in traditional “pumped” TSS applications and I still hold to my original statement that snow and wind will simply pass through the spaces in between the tubes. So, to those who chastised me back in 2009 over this issue, I continue to respectfully disagree and now offer what I believe is indisputable proof! Flat plate collectors WILL hold accumulated snow!


Check out this incredible resource my good friend, Chris Williams of the HeatSpring Learning Institute, has assembled for you. You can see it here.


Another great resource from my friends at HeatSpring. Get the guide here.


Check out this article from Solar Thermal Magazine about the positive perception of solar water heating.


The answer is unequivocally YES!

I have posted a great new video of Shane Kanter of GeoTemp Geothermal Services flushing and purging a slinky Ground Heat EXchanger, (GHEX) at the Montgomery, NY geothermal new construction site developed by Malmark Construction. I discussed the flush and purge process back in the July, 2011 newsletter but now that I have the video posted I want to revisit the subject. The video documents Shane using a traditional “flush cart” to flush the GHEX of any debris and purge it of air.

The flushing and purging procedure will accomplish the following:

  1. Flush debris from the GHEX
  2. Purge air from the GHEX
  3. Verify GHEX design, (pressure / flow)
  4. Check for possible flow blockage
  5. Charge GHEX with antifreeze
  6. Pressurize the GHEX

Let’s review some basic requirements as stated by the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, (IGSHPA), regarding flushing and purging.

A flow velocity of 2 ft / sec in the GHEX piping will completely remove any trapped air in the loops. The small, fractional horsepower circulators used in many “pump stations”  provided by geothermal equipment manufacturers and pump manufacturers will not produce enough flow to meet this requirement…unless, each loop is valved to isolate it from others and the manifold is located in the home as opposed to in the ground. Even then, the small circulator, (in this case a Grundfos UP26-99), may not have enough power to reach the velocity to ensure a thorough purge.

One of the nice features of the “pump station” like the one Shane uses in the video is that it comes equipped with isolation valves to segregate the GHEX from the geothermal heat pump. It is preferred to flush and purge the GHEX separate from the equipment so that debris from the GHEX would not enter the heat pump’s heat exchanger and also devotes the power of the pump to the GHEX without the pressure loss of the heat pump’s heat exchanger. In the video, Shane chooses to flush and purge the entire system at one time…his call to make as he is an experienced geothermal installer and feels that the relatively small amount of pipe in the GHEX, (1500’ of ¾” polyethylene tubing), and his diligence when constructing the GHEX to prevent any debris from entering the tubing will work in his favor.

The flush cart has a pump which generally is either a 1 ½ HP, (for up to 6 ton systems), or a 2 HP pump, (for up to 10 tons). Flush carts can be purchased completely assembled from many GSHP equipment manufacturers and their distributors.

The flush and purge process allows for the introduction of the antifreeze into the system, (the video shows this process). The antifreeze chosen for this job is ethanol based. There are essentially three choices of antifreeze for geothermal applications; methanol, ethanol and propylene glycol. There are some ex-geothermal installers who used methanol….it is VERY flammable and toxic but it was used because it has a very low viscosity when cold and thus was easier to pump, (methanol is now rarely used and in many cases not allowed). Ethanol is less flammable and toxic than methanol and has similar pumping characteristics to propylene glycol. So why not use propylene glycol? Its simple….ethanol cost less and you need a fair amount of antifreeze in these systems.

You can see Shane introducing the antifreeze into the flush cart’s tank…the cart’s pump then forces the fluid into the system. Once the required amount of antifreeze has been injected into the GHEX then the flush and purge process can begin. You can see in the video how you need to initially keep the fluid level in the flush cart’s tank low so that when slugs of air from the GHEX find their way into the tank the fluid doesn’t come gushing out of the tank and all over you and the floor! The entire process can take as much as four hours for a vertical bore hole GHEX because of the large amount of tubing and the likelihood of air being trapped in the vertical GHEX. In this case, the slinky is almost at the same level as the flush cart because these homes have a below grade basement so the process is much quicker…about one hour.

When I was at IGSHPA in Stillwater, OK this past August, they had a simulated GHEX with two loops of ¾” polyethylene tubing with clear manifold piping so you can actually see the trapped air when it occurs…and let me tell you…it DOES occur!

This brings me to my last comment for geothermal for this month.

I had the question of “to flush and purge or not” posed to me by a homeowner in Ohio who found me on the internet. He purchased a new home with a geothermal system that was functioning poorly. I guess he read my July, 2011 newsletter where I first mentioned a flow velocity of 2 ft / sec in the GHEX piping will completely remove any trapped air in the loops. He said he mentioned this to the installer and builder and they both claimed the use of the “pump station” made the system “self purging”. It ain’t so and only if the GHEX loop manifold is in the home, (not in the ground), would you have any chance of it’s circulators sufficiently creating enough flow for a proper purge. So, again, pump stations are NOT self purging!

Next month lets talk about the need for a proper heat loss / gain calculation as the starting point of any good geothermal project. My friend in Ohio’s dilemma reminded me that the job can go bad right from the start if a proper ACCA manual J calculation is not done in the design stage…and it can get worse!


MU’s Geothermal Lab has recently completed research updating the U.S. portion of the 2004 Geothermal Map of North America. You can read about it at Renewable Energy


I am in the process of securing new training partners for 2012 and I am excited to say that it is very likely that I will have manufacturer and distributor partners for geothermal, Small Duct High Velocity, (SDHV), air conditioning as well as mini-split air conditioning and heating training. Please keep an eye on the “Training Events” section of my website as I will be posting subjects, dates and times as they are confirmed.


Check out this goofy survey that I found on AOL. It is a gross over-simplification of what plumbers must know but I thought my plumber friends out there might get a kick out of it. Check it out here.


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October 2011 ESPCO Newsletter


It has been about five weeks since hurricane Irene really did some significant damage along the east coast. The town in which I live in Orange County, NY sustained damage the likes of which I have never seen in my 20 plus years here.

Some roads were completely washed out, homes flooded, Main Street and all our local businesses were under water, the sewer plant was heavily damaged…and I can go on and on.

My wife and I were very fortunate that our home remained dry and sustained no damage at all. Many of you know I live on a mountain, a private road with just eight homes including mine. The bridge which leads to our homes was badly damaged as a result of Irene and the sustained rains which ensued took out what was left of the bridge and we have been without access to our homes by vehicle for the last five weeks. The week after Irene, we made some temporary repairs to the bridge just so each family could get a vehicle on the other side. I have been using my four-wheeler as a valet service to my truck. It was lucky we did this as more heavy rain took out the temporary repair within a week rendering the bridge impassable again.

I tell you this tale of woe not for sympathy but rather as an entrée into some points I want to make about my thermal solar system on my home


You all know that a little over a year ago I installed a Sunnovations Thermal Solar System, (TSS), on my home for domestic hot water production. Arnoud van Houten, President and CTO of Sunnovations, and Matt Carlson, CEO, actually found me when they needed some assistance in creating a training program for their installers. We made a bartering deal where I consulted for them and in return they gave me a complete Sunnovations TSS for my home. They even sweetened the deal when Arnoud spent a couple days helping me install the system…so cool to have the inventor of the system actually assist in the install!

The Sunnovations system is unique for many reasons so let me quickly touch on a few of the highlights.

The Sunnovations TSS utilizes the “steamback” concept but does so in a very safe and practical approach. First, the Sunnovations system does not have a traditional mechanical pump but rather something called a geyser pump, (no electricity is used), to transfer the solar heated fluid into the tank below.

Unlike a traditional closed loop glycol system, the system has a proper overheat protection mechanism based on the steamback principle. Normally the system operates under a vacuum, (for efficient and safe operation). If the domestic hot water tank is fully heated, the system will produce a minimal overpressure, (3 PSI), which pushes the fluid from the collectors into an external overflow reservoir, (located behind one of the collectors). The maximum fluid temperature will not exceed 220 F, well below the breakdown temperature of glycol.  This is “steamback” at its BEST!

The benefit of “steamback” technology allows the Sunnovations system to be piped with PEX tubing from the collectors to the domestic hot water storage tank and back. Let me tell you first hand from an installer’s point of view, this is a beautiful thing! The ability to run PEX greatly reduced the installation time and cost as opposed to using copper.

Let me expand on how the system does not use a traditional circulator. I’m going to do my best to explain how the system circulates without a mechanical circulator…Arnoud will probably cringe how I over simplify this, but here goes.

The standard Sunnovations system comes with two 4’X 8’ flat plate collectors utilizing a harp shaped piping configuration within. Once the installation of the collectors, piping and domestic tank is complete, you pull a vacuum on the collectors…that’s right…a vacuum on traditional flat plate collectors! As the sun hits the collectors causing the fluid within to boil, (at a much lower temperature due to the vacuum), the geyser pumping pushes the fluid up into a vertical stack above the collectors. Some compare it to a coffee percolator. This causes the fluid level in the tube to the tank to be higher then the fluid level in the tube from the tank. The fluid levels equalize, (fluid gravity balance), which creates circulation in the solar loop. This perpetual motion circulates fluid from the collectors to the heat exchanger in the tank and cool fluid is returned to the collectors.

We lost power of course during and after Irene…we have a whole house generator because this happens rather regularly when you live as remotely as we do, but we would have had hot water without the generator which is really a wonderful benefit!

OK…lets wrap this up by bringing this back to my house post hurricane Irene.

My biggest fear with the bridge being out on my road is that no emergency vehicles can come up to our homes. In the case of a medical emergency we could get the ill person down to the bridge where we could meet EMT’s but in the case of a fire we are sitting ducks! It is this thought that has me not sleeping at nights!

I had been so consumed with this fear that I never considered that we could not get deliveries of heating fuels to the homes on the mountain, (fuel oil and / or propane). It was my wife that reminded me to look to see how much fuel oil we had on hand and I was dismayed to find we had about ¼ tank left, (we have two 250 gallon tanks). Irene hit about five weeks ago when it was still summer time…the temperatures on the mountain are getting down into the fifties now and it won’t be long before we need the heat to fire up!

Our Sunnovations TSS has provided uninterrupted domestic hot water with NO use of fuel oil! In what has been a very stressful five weeks, I never had to be concerned about running out of hot water…what a relief!

One more thing I wanted to share with you about my TSS; I have to admit I had some concerns about the two collectors withstanding hurricane winds. You can see my installation under the “Media” tab at my website and then in the “Gallery” under the heading “solar”.  You will see that the collectors are not flush with the roof of my home but rather supported in a rack on what is essentially a flat roof covering a portion of my deck. I chose this application primarily so that I could replace the roof on the house without having to remove the collectors. I think you will agree after viewing the pictures, these collectors could be sails if they were to ever come loose from the rack!

I purchased the rack online, (Sunnovations did not offer one in their package). I will admit to you that I was not at all thrilled with the rack when we first went to assemble it.  The only paperwork that came with the rack was a single sheet mechanical drawing which did little to assist in the rack’s assembly. I had Jim Coleman from JC Construction assisting me with the install of the collector rack…Jim has essentially rebuilt our home over two major renovations and put the roof on our place as well so I wanted him there for his expertise and intimate knowledge of my roof. Jim had the patience that I lacked to sit and work out the assembly of the rack…and I am eternally thankful to him for that!

The rack claims to be good up to 140 MPH winds…now Irene was more like 70 MPH at it’s strongest. The good news is those collectors never moved…not at all! Our four acres of land was strewn with downed trees but the collectors were not damaged and the Sunnovations TSS has been producing fossil fuel free hot water with no interruption!

I have become somewhat disenchanted with the majority of TSS manufacturers…most systems being marketed in the US are grossly overpriced and not terribly sophisticated in their technology. The Sunnovations system offers everything I just described at a fraction of the cost of most other TSS.

Maybe the best and most important aspect of the Sunnovations products is that it is made in the United States!

I will leave it up to you to determine if my endorsement of Sunnovations is objective or not but I will say this…if you are considering getting into the thermal solar business I strongly suggest you give Arnoud and Matt a call. You can link to their website from mine under the “Links” tab or go directly to

…and by the way, our bridge is finally getting what we hope is a permanent repair this week!

Here are some great SOLAR ARTICLES: Check out this article from Solar Thermal Magazine about how the drug store chain, Walgreens, is installing solar and geothermal systems in their locations around the country. You can read the article at this address:

Read about a new line of thermal solar storage tanks in this Solar Thermal Magazine article at this address:

Want to use your iPhone as a solar site evaluation tool? Check this out:


I have devoted a lot of space in recent newsletters to geothermal so I wanted to go lightly this month but I do have some interesting stuff to share with you.

Check out this article comparing geothermal to the plight of the electric car. There are interesting comments as well from readers. It is from Renewable Energy and you can read it at this address:

Check out this article from HeatSpring Magazine by my friend Chris Williams. Chris talks about how university campuses can be a great source for geothermal and solar projects. You can read the article here:

Hurricane Irene slowed progress on the ongoing geothermal project in Montgomery, NY. that I have been sharing with you. I hope to be involved in a flush and purge procedure in the next couple weeks so if all goes well I should have some new video of the procedure posted for the November newsletter as well as the story of a homeowner in Ohio who contacted me about his poorly performing geothermal system. The system was never flushed and purged properly because of some misinformation about a “pumping station” product which was used on the job…stay tuned!


When I was in Oklahoma in August I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial which honors those killed in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. The memorial is both beautiful and a sad reminder of the events of that day.

The memorial consists of two “gates of time”…framing the moment of destruction. Between the two gates is a beautiful reflecting pool. There are 168 bronze chairs representing those killed…19 chairs are smaller than the others representing the children killed.

I’m glad I took the time to visit the memorial while I was in Oklahoma as it reminded me of one of the horror’s this country endured pre-9/11.

On 9/11/01, myself and my good friend, and then co-worker, Bill Doran, were scheduled to perform a “factory start-up” of a commercial HydroTherm boiler in a new dormitory at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ., (about ten miles as the crow flies from Ground Zero). As I traveled south on the Garden State Parkway I pulled over just north of the Nutley police barrack where route 3 passes over the parkway. The elevation was such at that spot that I could see the tops of the towers…burning. I did not realize at that moment that I was actually witnessing the south tower collapsing…I just thought the fire’s intensity had increased and that was why I no longer could see the towers through the smoke.

Bill and I arrived almost simultaneously at the NJIT campus…the campus was in lock-down and we could not find a soul and all doors were locked. We could here the F-16 fighters above our heads. One tower was already down and what we didn’t know was the other would come down while we were still on the campus grounds.

When I spoke of this at Bill’s retirement party a few years back I mentioned how odd it was to think we were still trying to enter the dormitory so we could perform the boiler start-up…in retrospect, clearly we couldn’t get our minds around what was happening just miles from us and we were trying to find some normalcy…but that was not to be found for a long time.

On 9/11/11 Bill and I text-ed each other at the time the attacks took place…if we live to be 100 we will never forget where we were that day and with whom.

LOVE you Bill!

Posted in News | Comments Off on October 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

September 2011 ESPCO Newsletter


The location of the September classes originally scheduled to be held at the Holiday Inn, Carle Place, NY has been changed to the classroom of Rathe Associates, 1650 New Highway, Farmingdale, NY 11735. Thanks to Don Rathe for his generous offer allowing us to use his facility and I encourage everyone to go to Don’s website and patronize the many terrific HVAC product lines he represents.

There are many open seats for all September classes so please register today under the “Training Events” tab.

The timing of these September classes is perfect to refine some of your existing HVAC skills and learn new ones as well before the winter rush of activity when you won’t have time to attend a class. Please help spread the word about the classes…the classes are contingent on a minimum number of registrants so lets get a full house for each date! I don’t know when I will be conducting classes on Long Island again so please take advantage of this unique opportunity….REGISTER RIGHT NOW!


Last month I wrote that I was learning about the Daikin Altherma product and how impressed I was with it. Take a look at my endorsement of Altherma at the LaDuke Radiant Sales website at this address.

LaDuke Radiant Sales was formed in 2010 by Barry E. LaDuke in cooperation with Hydronic Workshop and Ecowarm to provide internet direct hydronic product sales, consultation and education to building and heating professionals. LaDuke Radiant Sales focuses on innovative new products and services in the radiant floor heating industry and serves the Pacific Northwest (AK, WA, OR, Northern Idaho).

I encourage my friends in Barry’s neck of the woods to check out his website and give him a call…we’re all in this thing together and Barry can be a great resource for you!


So much to get you up to date about with my activities in the geothermal world this past month but let’s start with something I neglected to mention in previous newsletters about the ongoing project of geothermal heated and cooled homes in Montgomery, NY.

My friends at Malmark Construction and Geotemp Geothermal Services are not only heating and cooling the 34 new homes with geothermal but they are heating the domestic hot water as well!

The system utilizes a desuperheater. A desuperheater is a heat exchanger that removes the high-grade, (high temperature), superheat available in the refrigerant gases exiting the heat pump compressor. Depending on the heat pump design and operating conditions, superheat temperatures of 200 degree Fahrenheit and greater may be reached.

Let’s step back for a moment and recall what superheat is exactly.

Superheat is the heat added to a substance, (in this case refrigerant), above its saturation temperature. As the load across an evaporator increases the available refrigerant will boil off more rapidly. If it is completely evaporated prior to exiting the evaporator, the vapor itself will continue to absorb heat. This heat is referred to as superheat.

A desuperheater’s function with ground source heat pumps is very similar to their function with central air conditioning. During cooling, heat pumps operating to provide air conditioning generate unused heat. This heat can be reclaimed and can therefore be considered a “free” source of energy for generating domestic hot water.

During the heating mode the functions of the condenser and the evaporator are reversed by a four-way reversing valve. This requires the desuperheater to be installed between the compressor and the reversing valve.

In the Bosch / Florida Heat Pump product, the “heat recovery package” as they call it includes an internally protected pump, double walled coaxial water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger, 140 degrees F hot water temperature limit and an on / off switch / circuit breaker.

The installations in the homes in Montgomery, NY utilize two Rheem Marathon water heaters. You can see a typical piping diagram for the tanks at this address.

The tanks have electric elements that offer back-up capacity if required, (though usually the heat pump will provide 100% of the domestic hot water needs of the home while the heat pump is operating).

It is acceptable to circulate the domestic water directly from the desuperheater to the water tank, (remember, the water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger is doubled walled so there is no opportunity for contamination of the domestic water as it flows through the desuperheater).

The circulator between the tank and the desuperheater may be activated by an aquastat in the tank and / or in the desuperheater. The circulator normally is connected to the compressor contactor which limits the desuperheater unit to operation during heat pump operation.

Next Wednesday I will be documenting the flushing and purging of one of the systems so next month’s newsletter will address this function.


I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that I had been accepted into the International Ground Source Heat Pump Associations, (IGSHPA), “Train the Trainer” program. I spent the week of 8/21/11 at the campus of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK. I have to tell you it was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I am proud to say that I have earned the title of IGSHPA Accredited Trainer. There were five of us chosen for the opportunity to earn accreditation and we became quick friends. My partners in training are:

Glen Bowen of Bard Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Eddie Hardee of Alabama Power
Dennis Fritschle of RE Michel Co., Inc.
Michael Paradis of Kennebec Valley Community College, Maine

Each of us was assigned a lesson to teach an IGSHPA Certified Installer class which was being held the last three days of the week. I was assigned to instruct the lesson on “Grouting Procedures for Ground-Source Heat Pumps”.

Now, those of you who have attended one of my classes know that I always try to have some fun with whatever the subject might be but I have to tell you it was awfully hard to find any thing that was sexy and / or fun about grouting a GSHP vertical borehole but I managed.

I had some fun with the word “annulus”, (the void between the walls of the vertical borehole and the heat exchanger tubes), as you might imagine.

This brings me to a brand new feature on my website…VIDEOS!  I have posted a video of a portion of my presentation in the new “Media” page of my website. You simply click on “Media” at the top menu bar and the click on “Videos”. You will see the first video is my class presentation.

Now, as you watch the video you may notice I am having what could look like a convulsion at both the beginning and the end of the video…let me explain.

The IGSHPA Certified Installer class ends with a 100 question test that requires a minimum score of 90% to pass. I passed this test back in June of this year and I have to tell you that I didn’t think it was as easy as some make it out to be. Yes, it is an open book test but any test of 100 questions with a minimum passing score of 90% is intimidating.

In my preparation for my presentation on grouting I was determined to help the students as best I could, without breaking any rules, in identifying areas of my presentation that they would see on the test. I told them when I started that if they saw me giving the “bunt sign” like a third base coach would give in baseball to a batter, then whatever I was talking about at the time I gave the signal was surly going to be on the test. Well, I think it worked real well and I would like to hear from the Certified Installer students and find out how they did on the test…I think they at least got all the questions related to grouting correct!

I have also added a new sub-category in the “Gallery” titled “IGSHPA Train the Trainer, 8/11,  Stillwater, OK”. The “Gallery” is now found under the “Media” tab along with the new “Video” section. You can see a picture of me with Dr. Jim Bose. Dr. Bose is the founder of IGSHPA and Director of the Division of Engineering Technology at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Bose is, in my opinion, the single most important person in the advancement of geothermal technology in North America and it was an honor to spend time with him.

You will also see pictures of the IGSHPA state-of-the-art classroom in Stillwater, OK as well as their lab facility where students learned butt and socket fusion welding techniques from Howard Newton of Bosch Thermotechnology and IGSHPA Training Committee Chairperson. Hands-on flushing and purging training conducted by Warren Lewis also took place in the lab.

The IGSHPA Certified Installer students were varied in their roles within the geothermal community as well as their geographic locations. Represented in the class were well drillers, university students, construction managers, geothermal equipment manufacturers and a group of Sioux Indians from the Fort Peck Tribes in Montana.

I want to make a special mention of Phil Rains and Mark Gallier of Bosch Thermotechnology who were in the installer class. These two men, along with my new friend, Glen Bowen of Bard Manufacturing who was one of the trainers working for IGSHPA trainer accreditation as I was, are all incredibly talented geothermal trainers and when the Bosch and / or Bard geothermal show comes to a town near you, don’t miss it…these guys are GREAT!


I have mentioned the addition of a “Videos” section under the new “Media” tab on my website. In addition to a portion of my IGSHPA presentation in Stillwater, OK, I have also added an edited thread of videos I took at the Montgomery, NY geothermal jobsite. The video includes footage of the backfill procedure of the trenches containing the slinky ground source heat exchanger and also Shane Kanter of GeoTemp Geothermal Services demonstrating socket fusion welding of the heat exchanger components. I’m really pleased with this section of the website and stay tuned for videos of the flushing and purging process of GHEX which I hope to have posted for the October newsletter.


I just want to thank Tim Sherwood of Dual Media Solutions for all his great work on my website. No matter where I go, people always compliment my website. Now, I do take credit for all it’s content, written, pictorial and now, videos…but Tim is the guy who takes my ideas and brings them to life on the website. He is an extraordinarily talented young man and I recommend him highly for your business. You can link to Tim’s website from the “links” page of my site or go there directly at this address:

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August 2011 ESPCO Newsletter


On July 19, 2011, Reuters reported that “AO Smith will acquire privately held Lochinvar Corp for $418 million”.

I hear great things about the Lochinvar product not only from obvious sources like their distributors and installers but from non-distributors as well. I am told that their “Knight” condensing boiler product is “bullet-proof” and call-backs virtually don’t exist! In today’s world of micro-processor driven condensing boilers, that is a big statement….it sounds like Lochinvar brought the ease of what I call “plain vanilla” boilers to the condensing market and that my friends is unique. My beef with condensing boilers vs. plain vanilla has been that we all can install these high end, super efficient boilers, but many….maybe most of us, aren’t comfortable with setting them up properly and ultimately servicing them.

Don’t misunderstand me….I love condensing boilers and I was there for the first condensing boiler introduced in the States back in the late 70’s….the HydroTherm HydroPulse boiler. Unfortunately, I don’t see that a lot has changed over 30 years addressing the need for a condensing boiler product that is easy to set up and easy to maintain…..until now!

Look, I got no dog in this race, but I’m impressed with what you all tell me about Lochinvar and I hope this recent news doesn’t change that down the road.

Lochinvar has an exceptional representative in the NJ and NY markets in Wallace Eannace Associates. WEA pioneered Lochinvar in the NY metro market and I hope they continue to enjoy what is now the fruit of their earlier hard work with this product.

If you have installed a Lochnivar product and have utilized the excellent technical support offered by WEA then you know they are the market leaders in condensing boilers and they know their product….great technical support and great training offered by their trainer, Dave MacKay. I like to think that Dave and I are cut from the same cloth….we both have turned a wrench in our day and we speak / train from personal experience rather than from what we heard in a sales meeting or read in a piece of sales literature.

If you haven’t yet had an experience with Lochinvar and Wallace Eannace Associates then I suggest you give them a call….now!


I have been learning about the Daikin Altherma system and I have also been reading your thoughts about it in industry blogs and such. I have to tell you this Altherma is some really neat stuff!

The Daikin Altherma system offers a variety of applications that can create a comprehensive climate control system, (heating & cooling), for any home and produce domestic hot water as well.

Among the system components is an air to water heat pump that can be the heat source for radiant floor heating as well as domestic hot water production. Depending upon the system you choose, the hydronic heat exchange components can be contained in the outdoor unit, (called the “Monobloc”), or separate from the outdoor unit, installed indoors in what Daikin calls the “Hydrobox”.

There is a refrigerant cycle which is the medium for the heat transfer to the water but if you choose the Monobloc Altherma system, the refrigerant cycle is limited to the outdoor unit….what I mean by that is you are not running line-sets into the home! Remember this is an air to water heat pump so we are cycling water….yes, water, to and from the outdoor unit to what I will call the “demands” or heating appliances within the home, i.e., hydronic fan coils for heating / cooling, radiant floor heating loops and indirect water heater.

You wet-heads out there getting this? I think you may have the best of all worlds here in that Daikin has managed to marry the efficiencies and simplicity of the heat pump and combined it with the hydronic components you know and love!

Now if that wasn’t enough, (I’m sounding a bit like Ron Popeil here), wait, there’s more!

You all know that I love thermal solar…. I practice what I preach and I have a TSS on my own home. Check this out….there is a Daikin Altherma solar option that you can add to any version of the Altherma system for “primary” domestic hot water production with heat pump energy as back-up if needed.

The Altherma system is available in capacities ranging from 2 -5 ton.

That is a quick and overly simplistic overview of Altherma….I suggest you go to the Daikin website for more details. I’m really fascinated by the versatility of the system and the combining of multiple technologies in what appears to be a very unique, efficient and comprehensive system!


Check out what NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg is doing to help the United States move away from producing half it’s energy from coal at this link.

Last month I told you about a thermal solar manufacturer that I found very interesting, Heliodyne. Well, the August / September issue of SOLARPRO magazine has an interview with Ole Pilgaard, president of Heliodyne. If you don’t get SOLARPRO delivered you can see it online here.

GEOTHERMAL: Want to know what the feds think about geothermal? Check out this article on the White House website.

Geothermal tax credits, (as well as solar water heaters, wind energy systems and fuel cells), will continue through December 31, 2016. You can read more about it in the ACHR The NEWS, article in the July 18, 2011 issue.

Lots of geothermal coverage in the July 25, 2011 issue of the ACHR The NEWS! If you don’t get it delivered you can check it out online here.

Have you been noticing all the full page adds for Bosch geothermal equipment in virtually every trade magazine and journal of late? They even have a “pull-out” brochure in the above mentioned July 25, 2011 issue of the ACHR The News. Well, Bosch is in the midst of re-branding the residential product line which once was Florida Heat Pump, (FHP), and they are making a huge investment in the US geothermal market. Backed by a 10 year parts and labor warranty, the Bosch geothermal product is top shelf.

I was lucky enough to visit the Bosch facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this past month and I was impressed with the high level of commitment to product quality, versatility, as well as customer needs with both the Bosch residential line and the FHP commercial line.

Bosch will be creating a state of the art geothermal training facility at their Florida headquarters that will compliment their existing, excellent “in-the-field” training efforts.

You can learn more about Bosch here.

Last month I promised to get into the basic workings of water to air geothermal heat pumps like the ones being utilized in the Montgomery, NY job that I have been documenting for you over the past few months. So let’s do it!

*In the cooling mode, the refrigerant, a hot gas, is pumped from the compressor to the water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger via the reversing valve. Water, generally with antifreeze, flowing through the water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger removes heat and the hot gas condenses into a liquid. This liquid then flows through a metering device to the air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger coil. In evaporating into a gas, the liquid absorbs heat and cools and dehumidifies the air that passes over the coil surface. The cooling cycle is completed when the refrigerant flows as a low pressure gas through the reversing valve back to the suction side of the compressor. The fluid from the water-to-air heat exchanger is pumped to the ground loop heat exchanger where it transfers heat to the earth. The cooled fluid then flows back to the unit.

During the heating mode, the refrigerant, a hot gas, is pumped from the compressor to the air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger coil via the reversing valve. In the air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger coil, the heat is removed by the air that passes over the coil surface, and the hot gas condenses into a liquid. The air is circulated to the space and provides heating for the house. The refrigerant liquid then flows through a metering system to the water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger. When evaporating into a gas, the liquid absorbs heat and cools the water. The heating cycle is completed when the refrigerant flows as a low pressure gas through the reversing valve and back to the suction side of the compressor.
In the winter the fluid in the ground loop extracts heat from the ground, raising the fluid temperature and circulates back to the heat pump into the house.

*credited to Bosch Thermotechnology Corp.

One last item on geothermal….I have been accepted into the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, (IGSHPA), “Train the Trainer” accredited trainer program and I will be participating this month, (August), in Stillwater, OK on the campus of the Oklahoma State University. Upon completion I hope to earn the status of IGSHPA Accredited Trainer.


I have been thinking a lot lately about Queens, NY native and founding member of the rock power trio, Mountain, Leslie West. Leslie has been in poor health of late, (had a leg amputated due to diabetes complications), and it made me revisit all the great stuff he did with Mountain, West, Bruce & Laing as well as his solo stuff. In fact, I was so inspired that when I discovered Leslie had recently collaborated with Dean Guitars to create his first “signature” guitar, well, I had to have it. What a great instrument! You plug in and with a bit of overdrive distortion you are wailing on “Mississippi Queen” in no time!

Back in the day Leslie was known to play a Gibson Les Paul Jr….considered an odd choice back as it was a “lesser” model and considered a “studio” instrument. Also, the small body of the LP Junior against the then huge West made it even more odd! I listened to a West interview where he mentioned he would visit pawn shops and pick up an LP Junior for $150.00 that’s how under appreciated they were!

The best news is that Leslie will be back on the road this fall with Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth of the Scorpions in the “3 Guitar Heroes” tour and my wife and I will be catching the show at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT this October….can’t wait!

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Archive Of Previous Articles By Gerry


Q4 2017 ESPCO Newsletter

Q1 2017 ESPCO Newsletter

Q3 2016 ESPCO Newsletter

Q1 2016 ESPCO Newsletter

August / September 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

April / May 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

February / March 2015 ESPCO Newsletter


November / December 2014 ESPCO Newsletter

July / August 2014 ESPCO Newsletter

May / June 2014 ESPCO Newsletter

January / February 2014 ESPCO Newsletter

November / December 2013 ESPCO Newsletter

September / October 2013 Newsletter

July / August 2013 Newsletter

May / June 2013 Newsletter

March / April 2013 Newsletter

January / February 2013 Newsletter

December 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

November 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

September / October 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

August 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

July 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

June 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

May 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

April 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

March 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

February 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

January 2012 ESPCO Newsletter

December 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

November 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

October 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

September 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

August 2011 ESPCO Newsletter

July 2011 Newsletter

June 2011 Newsletter

May 2011 Newsletter

Below are links to articles written by Gerry Wagner for industry related magazines.

Sizing Mini Split Systems – Don’t Oversize, Choose the Right Equipment
Contractor magazine January 10, 2013

Renewable Energy is Making the Trades Sexy Again
HeatSpring Magazine October 12, 2011

Is Geothermal Economically Viable? You Bet!
New England Edition – HVAC Insider – July 2011
Empire Edition – HVAC Insider – July 2011

The Psychology of This Economy
Supply House Times, May 2011

Photovoltaic = Sexy Solar
Thermal Solar = Not So Much
Supply House Times, January 1, 2010

What Is The Return On Investment, (ROI), of a Granite Countertop?
PM Magazine, July 1, 2009

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July 2011 Newsletter


Although the June curriculum’s location changed and the number of classes reduced, overall, the classes were successful thanks to the unique and gracious assistance from InterCounty Supply and specifically, ICS VP, Bryan Gettler.
I have posted some great new pictures from the 6/28/11 “Hydronic Heating System Wiring” class on the ESPCO website in the “Gallery” under the new “June 2011 Wiring Class” tab. You can see the new training boards with products from class sponsors such as Argo Controls, Armstrong Pumps, Honeywell, Erie and McDonnell & Miller. These sponsors, along with ICS, Wallace Eannace, Rathe Associates, Venco Sales and Thermco made the June classes possible and we should all be grateful to them for their dedication and support of the trades.


I have posted a picture of the 6/13/11 Small Duct High Velocity, (SDHV), Air Conditioning class sponsored by SpacePak which was held at the Mahwah, NJ campus of Lincoln Tech. You can see the picture at in the “Gallery”.

I want to thank Lincoln Tech HVAC Instructor, William Ginocchio and the administration at Lincoln Tech for inviting me and always making me feel at home. I have conducted three classes at LT, Mahwah and I am always blown away by the incredible facility, the dedication of the faculty / staff and the eagerness to learn shown by the students.

If you own an HVAC company and are looking for talented and skilled employees, drop me a note and I will get you in contact with William Ginocchio at LT. The techs that Bill and LT produce are top notch and eager to put their skills to work for you!


Check out this list of the 10 most sluggish state economies. Unfortunately New Jersey is #10. See the entire list at this address.


The New York City Solar America City Partnership, led by Sustainable CUNY, has launched the New York City Solar Map. This map shows existing solar PV and solar thermal installations in NYC and gives an estimate of solar PV potential for every rooftop in the five boroughs. The New York City Solar Map is a tool that all New Yorkers can use to learn about the potential for solar on their buildings and across the city. It also provides practical information and steps for installing solar. If you are installing thermal solar systems in NYC you can add your systems to the map at this address:

Here is a thermal solar manufacturer that I have found to be offering interesting and unique TSS products / systems that you may want to take a look at:

Heliodyne Solar Hot Water: Founded in 1976, Heliodyne™ Inc. is proud to be among the oldest solar hot water companies in the U.S. Their continued focus on solar hot water has made them true specialist in the solar industry, and a leading supplier of quality solar heating systems throughout the country. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Heliodyne Thermal Solar System is their use of higher operating pressures. A standard “pumped” TSS might see operating pressures of 40 PSI but a Heliodyne system operates at higher pressures….higher pressures mean a higher collector fluid boiling point thus allowing for “stagnation without boiling”.  You can see Heliodyne’s website at this address:


Here is a great article from Chris Williams at the Heatspring Learning Institute titled, “What the Geothermal Heat Pump Industry Can Learn from the Solar Pros”.  The Geothermal market is growing but at nowhere near the pace of solar. Chris offers his take on what the geothermal industry can learn from the solar industry. Check it out at this address.

Okay, back to our ongoing job in Montgomery, NY with my friends at Geotemp Geothermal Services and Malmark Construction.

A couple items from last month’s newsletter that I wanted to offer more detail on:
The three “slinky” loops / trenches I discussed last month obviously need to come together at some point into a “header”. The header connections are such to create a “reverse return” flow through the loops, (first in / last out). I was discussing with Shane Kanter of Geotemp Geothermal Services why he chose to have the header buried rather than inside with the mechanical equipment. Shane felt that limiting the number of penetrations through the foundation, (two as opposed to six), outweighed any benefit of valving the loops independently of each other at an interior header could provide.

A common practice to pressure test the ground loops is to pressurize the loops to 120 PSI, (or a minimum of twice the operating pressure), using water. Normally the water pressure and / or temperature will expand the pipe and within 30 minutes, the pressure will drop to the 60 to 80 PSI range, depending upon the size and volume of fluid in the heat exchanger. Pressure testing is usually done above ground before placement in the trench so that every foot of pipe can be visually inspected.

That brings us to another important issue with the slinky….air removal!

Air removal is critical and must be accomplished during flushing and purging of the ground source heat exchanger. This process not only removes air from the system but flushes any debris / contaminants which may have entered the heat exchanger during the installation process. The minimum flushing flow velocity is 2 feet / second. This velocity ensures proper air removal. Now, with the header buried and no opportunity for the loops to be flushed / purged independently of each other, a pump with a greater flow capacity of the “system” pump, (a Grundfos UP26-99 in this case), must be used.

I have added a few new pictures to the website “Gallery” under the “Geothermal” tab. You can see a couple pics of the flush cart used to flush and purge the ground source heat exchanger and also to introduce the antifreeze to the system. You can see the flush cart has a pump which generally is either a 1 ½ HP, (for up to 6 ton systems), or a 2 HP pump, (for up to 10 tons). The flush cart is connected to the closed-loop system so the ground heat exchanger can be flushed independently of the water-source heat pump. Flush carts can be purchased completely assembled from many GSHP equipment manufacturers and their distributors.

The last detail I want to cover is the antifreeze. The antifreeze chosen for this job is ethanol based, (I added a pic of the container in the “Gallery”). There are essentially three choices of antifreeze for geothermal applications; methanol, ethanol and propylene glycol. There are some ex-geothermal installers who used methanol….it is VERY flammable and toxic but it was used because it has a very low viscosity when cold and thus was easier to pump, (methanol is now rarely used and in many cases not allowed). Ethanol is less flammable and toxic than methanol and has similar pumping characteristics to propylene glycol. So why not use propylene glycol? Its simple….ethanol cost less and you need a fair amount of antifreeze in these systems.

I also added a picture of the finished exterior of the home….the home is not only super efficient but it is beautiful as well!

I know I said I was going to get into the heat pump equipment this month but I think we covered a fair amount for now so next month I will dissect GSHP which in this case is equipped with a desuperheater to produce domestic hot water as well.

One last geothermal note; I’m pleased to now be an Accredited International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, (IGSHPA), Geothermal Installer and National Association of Technician Excellence, (NATE), Certified Ground Source Heat Pump Installation Technician.  I want to thank Ryan Carda of Geo-Connections, Inc. and instructor for the Heatspring Learning Institute for his assistance with my studies and also Patrick, “Murph”, Murphy, VP at NATE for his testing accommodations.


The summer concert tour season is well under way and my wife and I have been to three shows recently. The first was Deep Purple at the Beacon Theater in NYC. No, Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord are no longer in the band but Steve Morse and Don Airey are more than adequate replacements….in fact, it is really a Steve Morse show in my opinion.
We also saw Peter Frampton at the Paramount Theater in Peekskill, NY. It is the 35th anniversary of “Frampton Comes Alive” and he played the two album set over three hours. Unfortunately, Stanley Sheldon is the only surviving band member from the original tour but the new band members were outstanding and Frampton is one of the most underrated guitar players of all time!
Third may be a surprise to some….we went to see Sade at the Izod Center in Rutherford, NJ. I’m a huge Sade fan and she has the same band members with her from the first album and tour. You may not know it, but the band has recorded without Sade under the name Sweetback…check it out.

Have a GREAT 4th holiday weekend and I hope to see you soon!

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June 2011 Newsletter

Attention! June Classes

An important development regarding the June 2011 classes scheduled for Mt. Kisco, NY….InterCounty Supply, (ICS), has purchased ALL the remaining seats for ALL four classes originally scheduled for the Holiday Inn in Mt. Kisco, NY and as a result we are moving the classes to the ICS, Port Chester, NY location and all seats are now NO CHARGE to you! This is a HUGE commitment from our friends at ICS and specifically ICS Vice President, Bryan Gettler. Please note the dates and the subjects have not changed but the location address is now:

InterCounty Supply, (ICS)
255 Regent St.
Port Chester, NY 10573

Seating for the 6/21 and 6/28 “wiring” classes are limited to 20 per class. The 6/22 and 6/29 class have unlimited seating, (within reason). You can contact me directly to register for any of the June classes by calling 845-527-2135 or emailing me at Seats are available at no charge on a “first come, first served” basis and no food will be served at the classes so please eat before you come to the class.

A big THANKS to ICS for their generosity and commitment to the HVACR trades!


Check out the video of Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” on the home page. Mike’s testimony is not only inspirational but eye opening as well. Mike Rowe is a true advocate for ALL the trades and a friend to all us in the trenches, boiler rooms, attics and crawlspaces. You can see the video at, scroll down the page…the video is in the right border.


Want to turn everybody on to a great software program called LoopLink from my new friends at Geo-Connections, Inc. Geo-Connections’ engineers literally wrote the book on residential and light commercial geothermal design. They then took their knowledge and over 50+ years of cumulative experience and poured it into the creation of LoopLink. The result isn’t just the first software designed around the new IGSHPA standards, it is the only software designed by the authors of those standards! You can check it out and take it for a trail run at this address:

More geothermal news from our ongoing project with my friends from Geotemp Geothermal Services and Malmark Construction in Montgomery, NY;

This month I wanted to look closer at the “slinky” closed ground loop that is being utilized. The house I have been documenting has three 65’ trenches. Each trench has 500’ of ¾” polyethylene slinky for a total of 1500’. Headers are 11/4” polyethylene straight lengths and average 20’ – 40’ in length. All this is predetermined based on soil composition, (finally putting the geological stuff you learned in grammar school to practical use), the structures heat gain / loss, the equipment chosen and other factors as well.

If you look at the pictures on my website in the “gallery” of this job you will see the “slinky” being installed. We had the extreme advantage of having Malmark’s excavating machine onsite so digging the 5’ deep trenches was a breeze! Look at the slinky in the pictures……the overlapping, (the distance between the circular coils), of the tubing is called the “pitch” and is also predetermined in the design process. Those of us who have done radiant floor heat designs can relate to the amount of tubing being relative to BTU’s required…here we are not only dealing with heat rejection, (cooling mode), but heat absorption as well, (heating mode). A 500’ roll of ¾” polyethylene pipe, 36” coil diameter with a 13” pitch will create 42 loops.

It should be noted that if you don’t have the advantage of heavy duty excavating equipment the slinky can be installed standing up, (vertical), utilizing a “ditch witch” type machine.

The polyethylene tubing is connected via socket / butt fusion. My sponsor, GeoThermal Tools, Inc. of Wayne, NJ has made a tool available for my August and September geothermal classes and we will actually demonstrate the process of socket / butt fusion in the classes. Simply, you are heating the ends of the pipe, (butt fusion), to about 450 degrees and “fusing” the two ends together… coupling! Of course there are fittings such as couplings, reducers, elbows, etc. and socket fusion is used in this process.

Back to the Montgomery, NY job…here are the numbers for the house:

Structure Sq / Ft ——2,420

Indoor Summer Design Condition——–72 degrees
Indoor Winter Design Condition———-70 degrees
Outdoor Summer Design Condition——88 degrees
Outdoor Winter Design Condition——–4 degrees

Total Heat Gain——23,755 BTU’s
Total Heat Loss——32,516 BTU’s

The ground source heat pump chosen for the house is a two stage 3 ton unit…more on that next month!


I hosted a group from Community Environmental Center of Long Island City, NY at my home last Friday so they could observe the thermal solar system I have installed at my home. The not-for-profit Community Environmental Center (CEC) was founded in 1994 to address the housing and energy efficiency needs of low and middle income communities. You can learn about the CEC at . They are researching thermal solar products that can be easily applied at low upfront cost and have high performance ratings for use in single and multi-family low income housing. I was glad to be of assistance in their research process and applaud the CEC for their good “community” based work!


One of my musical dreams has come true with the reunited 80’s new wave band “The Cars”. Ric Ocasek is back with all the original band members, (less Benjamin Orr who died), and has released a CD of all new material called “Move Like This”. Elliot Easton is one of the most underrated guitar players, (and a lefty no less)! Check out their website at this address:

See you all soon I hope!

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May 2011 Newsletter

Welcome Our New Sponsors

We continue to add new sponsors for our 2011 training classes. Please be sure to check out their websites by linking through our “Links” page under “manufacturer sponsors”.

Taking Class Registrations, Right Online!

We are taking registrations for all 2011 classes and you can sign up by going to “Training Events” and scrolling to the class you wish to attend and registering online. We accept payment via PayPal online or via check through the US Mail. Classes are filling up so PLEASE register today for the classes you wish to attend so you don’t miss out!


Here are addresses for some interesting articles from the thermal solar world, (copy address and paste in your browser to view article):

Helping Homeowners Pay for Energy Efficiency Improvements

Update PlaNYC With 132 Green Initiatives Including the Clean Heat Campaign

IKEA Powers Up Solar In Brooklyn, NY

New Article By Gerry

Be sure to check out the upcoming May issue if Supply House Times. “The Psychology Of This Economy” is a new article by Gerry Wagner which will appear in May issues of Supply House Times. You can see it online next month at:

Geothermal – Look how cost effective it can be!

More pictures of the ongoing geothermal project in Montgomery, NY have been posted in the “Geothermal” part of the “Gallery”.

The home I’m documenting the geothermal install in is “The York” by Malmark Construction of Montgomery, NY. It is 2420 sq/ft home. The 30 + homes being constructed are built on 1 – 4.7 acre lots starting from $299,000.00 and up. Each home is being offered with the geothermal heating , cooling and hot water package available as a $16,000.00 premium.

Here’s how the math works: the standard mechanical package for the home cost $25,000.00.  The geothermal upgrade cost $41,000.00 which includes high performance low-E glass windows with argon gas, 1/2 pound open cell spray foam in the walls and attic rafters as well as a heat recovery ventilator, (HRV), unit. It is important to note that the geothermal system is possible, (and practical), only with the addition of these other energy saving upgrades to create a true geothermal “package”.

The geothermal package creates a heat loss for the home of 32,500 BTUH and a heat gain of 23,750 BTUH. Tight…..right? Now you no why the HRV is needed!

So, back to the math. The new homeowner pays the $16,000.00 difference between the standard mechanical package and the geothermal, ($41,000.00 – $25,000.00 = $16,000.00).

The feds allow for a 30% tax credit on the new homeowners income tax return for “geothermal heat pump property”. This credit is approximately $12,360.00, (30% of $41,000.00 is approximately $12,360.00).

So now with the tax credit thrown into the mix the actual cost of the geothermal premium to the home owner is $3,640, ($16,000.00 – $12,360.00 = $3,640.00).

An additional $16,000.00 added to a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 5% interest rate is about $86.00 added to the monthly mortgage payment. The expected fuel savings of $250.00 per month creates a positive cash flow of $164.00 / month……….I consider this a “no brainer” for a potential home buyer!

The payback time of the actual “out of pocket” cost of $3,640.00 for the geothermal package can be less than 15 months!

WOW! …….again…….WOW!

Next month I will get into the details of the “slinky” type closed loop trench application of this geothermal job…..stay tuned! (Check out the photo gallery to see the “slinky” being installed)

4/28 SPACEPAK CLASS AT GENERAL PLUMBING SUPPLY, DOVER NJ, TO BE RESCHEDULED: This is the first time I had a class postponed due to tornado warnings! This class will be rescheduled so please watch for the new date.

PLUMBING: This past Monday, April, 25, was National Hug A Plumber Day so if your a plumber and you got a little unexpected love last Monday now you know why.

MUSIC: This past Wednesday, April 27, was original KISS lead guitarist, (and in my opinion the ONLY Kiss lead guitarist), Ace Frehley’s 60th birthday.


I want to start encouraging everyone to begin using the “Ask Gerry” feature on our website. Past and current students already know the password……if you aren’t sure of it, contact Gerry via the Contact page, or at Your inquires don’t have to be limited to HVACR…..if you have an interesting and / or funny story about an encounter with a customer, a favorite car you want to talk about, a concert or CD review……whatever…..please take a moment to share it with me and I just might share it with the world!

Atlantic Region Energy Exp, (AREE)

I will be attending the AREE show this Wednesday, 5/4/11, at the Atlantic City Convention Center. If you are going to be there keep and eye out for me as I would love say hi! If you miss me during the show then I most likely can be found after hours in the high stakes slots room of the Tropicana……there is a “Wheel of Fortune” and a “Red, White & Blue” machine in there with my name on it!

Sign up on the top of the page and we’ll send you the highlights of the newsletters each month so you know to come by and check it out!

See you all soon I hope!

~ Gerry

Posted in News | Comments Off on May 2011 Newsletter

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

After almost twenty years with my last employer, the last seven years establishing what was once the premier independent trade training facility in New Jersey, I decided to go my own way. In the midst of what is being called the “Great Recession” I decided to forego a regular paycheck and start ESPCO, Inc.

As you may be doing as you read this, I questioned my sanity several times through the process of deciding what I wanted to do next. I immediately did what most people would do and that was to solicit full time employment with manufacturers and their local representatives. I began getting interviews and quickly realized that after almost 30 years since my last real interview, the world had changed and I wasn’t prepared.

The first thing that smacked me right between the eyes was the “interview” itself… memory of my last interview 30 years ago was it being rather “lite”. I remember it being more social than anything else and the reputation I established in my previous employment proceeded me so there was little to discuss other salary and starting date.

The interview process now is just that….a process.

In one company I interviewed with a Human Resource Manager as well as someone called the “Hiring Manager” before I ever got to the department head to which I would eventually report should I get the job. I was surprised that even in smaller, privately owned companies, the interview has become a process with multiple levels and highly technical in content. I found myself being quizzed on the attributes of “indoor / outdoor reset” by the CEO of one company and the three methods of solar collector attachment to a roof by another!

I’m not complaining… fact, just the opposite….I think this is all good. Clearly companies are not willing to give someone “a shot” just on their social skills any more. Companies are faced with new challenges in this economy and also with new liabilities that weren’t evident and / or didn’t exist 30 years ago. The “process” has been refined to a point where, should you actually be offered a job, you can feel gratified that you made it through the process and the company can feel assured they made the right choice.

Okay, so you may be asking….”did you not make it through the process Gerry”?

Well, I can say in more than one insistence I did make it all the way through to the job offer. In fact… one case I accepted a very generous offer from a highly respected local representative firm… was a territory sales position similar to what I did previously before becoming a dedicated trainer / instructor. The problem was that as I left their office after accepting the position I should have been fist pumping and yahooing all the way home……but I wasn’t. I actually had a sick feeling because I felt like I gave up my dream, my passion. The job had virtually no “training” element to it….at least not in the sense that I have become most accustomed, (a classroom type setting). I am much more effective, (and comfortable), when I’m in front of an audience of 100 or more than I am when in front of one person, (clearly this fact is material for an article in psychoanalysis but I will leave that up to the medical professionals). After a couple weeks agonizing and debating the pros and cons of the position I ultimately declined the offer, (this is when my wife started questioning my sanity). I immediately felt relieved…..well, for a few hours anyway.

Ultimately, I know I have made the right decision…..and this is why.

I don’t want to get too spiritual or “out there” with this but I do believe I am here to be an educator. I believe my talent lies in my ability to research a subject, create an interesting, informative and fun, (I have to have fun), curriculum and then present it to an audience in a manner that is interactive, effective…..and again, fun! I need to continue my journey striving to be the best HVACR instructor I can be….anything less is just that….less, and not what I want and / or need.

So that all said here is the moral of my tale……education should never stop…..must never stop! The past seven years I have trained thousands of HVACR technicians and I neglected my own education. I was so busy doing what I was doing and enjoying a certain degree of success that I forgot to expand my own horizons by taking on new subjects and applications outside the scope of my previous employer. I am now taking the time to take classes, (boot camps in some cases), on subjects such as geothermal and then sitting for testing to become “certified” by an appropriate governing body as an installer. I have also solicited favors from friends, (previous students of mine in several cases), who are already installing geothermal systems and I am offering myself as a working member of their crew so I can get the “hands-on” experience I need to ultimately conduct a class myself on the subject.

Remember too that “all work and no play makes me / you a very boring guy”…

…so don’t forget about you……. do something…..learn something that is for you and you alone…..not work related. My whole life I dabbled with learning to play the guitar but never really had the discipline to follow through for any length of time. Well, that all changed about three years ago when I got serious about it! I study each week with a very accomplished instructor and although I am my own toughest critic, it brings me moments of great joy when I play something that I sounds good to me…..and that’s what it is all about! Ace Frehley need not worry….I don’t figure to ever be a threat, but as frustrating as the process can be sometimes it feels good to work through it and at the advanced age of fifty, still be able to learn and continue to move forward.


Thanks to you all for your continued support!

Now sign up for one of my classes!

PS – Wanted….drummer and bass player for classic rock outfit…..must be a KISS Army member and know complete KISS catalog. Make-up not required.


Posted in News | Comments Off on What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?