I live and work in the Santa Fe, New Mexico, area. So, it takes something special to pull me from my home and work to willingly travel to Chicago in the midst of winter. This year, that special something was the AHR Expo.

I’ve now made the trip two years in a row, but this time, best of all, my wife and business partner, Dorian, joined me.

When the jet touched down at O’Hare International Airport, we made our way promptly to a few hospitality suites — always a nice way to begin the excitement of the show.

To learn that this year’s show set attendance records was no surprise to us, as we had to fight our way through the crowds. There was so much to see and learn about, but as a die-hard hydronics guy, I was drawn quickly to several key points of interest. Here’s the quick recap of what I found most interesting.


Fernox is best known for its TF1 in-line, magnetic filter and its F1 Protector and F5 Cleaner water treatment fluids.

Among the new products showcased at the Fernox booth were the TF1 Omega and Delta in-line filters and the Filter Fluid+ Protector. The new Omega filter is similar to the original filter, but it has a higher pressure rating due to its nickel-plated brass construction. The Delta filter is designed for much larger systems. It can handle flow rates up to 53 gpm, and it is also available with a thermal cover.

These magnetic filters make it easy to collect and remove both magnetic and non-magnetic debris from the hydronic system.

Much like Fernox’s existing fluid treatment products, the new Filter Fluid+ Protector is injected into the system. It must be used in conjunction with a magnetic filter, however, because it relies on the filter, as opposed to system flushing, to remove contaminants. The fluid remains in the system indefinitely to protect against further contamination.


The Taco booth debuted a plethora of new technology this year — both commercial and residential products. The LeakBreaker AlertPlus (a complete plumbing leak detection system) and the new 006e3 circulator were the two items I found to be most applicable to my business.

The LeakBreaker AlertPlus is a WiFi-enabled leak detection system that includes a shut-off valve, a control unit, and two wireless sensors. The sensors can be located around the house — for instance, one can be placed under the dishwasher, under the water heater, or anywhere else a leak could occur.

The valve is installed on the home’s incoming water supply, and if one of the wireless sensors is tripped, the system immediately blocks incoming water from the street or well. The controller also sends a text or email to the owner or service company. Through an app, the valve can be reopened once the problem is fixed. 

The system runs on AC power supply with battery backup. For my business, Outlaw Mechanical in Sandia Park, New Mexico, I think the LeakBreaker AlertPlus could be a great way to avoid catastrophic leaks for all customers but especially customers who have vacation homes.

The ECM-powered 006e3 is a problem-solver for domestic water — it provides high-efficiency hot water recircirculation.

The infinitely-variable, wet-rotor circulator is designed specifically to make installation and operation of domestic hot water recirculation systems easier and more efficient.

The circ has a dial to select from three performance curves to best match the application and a setting selection guide to make the choice simple. The quiet, permanent-magnet electronically commutated motor (ECM) uses up to 85 percent less electricity than conventional pumps of the same size, and installation is easy.

The pump’s compact design accommodates tight spaces, and multiple connection options are available. It’s also double-insulated, so a ground wire isn’t necessary, and a three-color LED indicates status. Taco’s SureStart technology also automatically unblocks and purges air from the line.


Front and center in the Axiom booth was the new DMF150, or “Pressure Pal” mini system feeder. Its compact size, digital control, and the fact that it can be wall-mounted are what caught my attention.

This 4.5-gallon system feeder could be great for any hydronic application but especially for those where a glycol solution is used, like a snowmelt loop or in a workshop or garage (again, vacation homes come to mind), because it allows users to keep a close eye on fluid levels in the system.

A wall bracket comes standard with the unit. It’s filled via a 5-inch, tilted access on the front of the feeder, and it can maintain pressures between 0-45 psig with adjustable cut-in and cut-out settings.

Because the system connection is located at the top of the unit, it can be installed with near-zero side clearances.

The unit is powered by a 115 VAC outlet and features a dry contact alert that can tie into a security system along with an LED light warning indicator that will flash and issue a digital readout of the warning.

With a quick glance at the translucent reservoir, techs can see if the fluid level has dropped and can tell if there’s a leak in the system as soon as they walk into a mechanical room.


US Boiler’s new K2 Combi boiler was a real show-stopper for me. The new high-efficiency unit really fits my needs, and I mean that literally and figuratively.

In New Mexico, southwestern style architecture means flat roofs and slab-on-grade construction. Mechanical rooms are generally the size of a broom closet, and it’s up to the technician to figure out how to “make it all fit.” Having a compact combi unit is awesome. And somehow, the engineers who designed it left enough space inside the cabinet to allow a guy to work properly.

Until now, I’ve had to install foreign-made combi units due to space constraints — while most of those are compact, they lack in a lot of other areas. This one is priced competitively, and I like that it has a touchscreen control and a hinged door with a single latch. The combi is available in two sizes — 135 and 180 MBH. It features a 10:1 turndown ratio, 95 percent AFUE, and Sage2.3 controls. It also has the same stainless steel watertube heat exchanger as the K2 boiler.


AHR did not disappoint. Having Dorian along on the trip was the icing on the cake. It was fun watching her reaction to some of the industry’s newest technology. I can’t be sure we’ll make it to Atlanta in 2018, but there’s no doubt we’ll try!

Publication date: 4/9/2018

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