HERSHEY, PA — It was a chocoholic’s dream come true — a few days in the backyard of Hershey Chocolate U.S.A., where guests at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center are given a Hershey Bar upon check-in and the smell of chocolate wafts through the air downwind of the factory.

This was the setting for the 48th annual convention and trade show of the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers, Inc. (NAOHSM). On May 13-17, over 4,700 registered attendees enjoyed the sweet smell of the Hershey community as well as lively roundtable discussions and an industry product expo.

Here’s a brief summary of some roundtable discussions, which were staged in large meeting rooms. Many sessions hosted standing-room-only crowds, which spilled over from the central table and adjacent chairs.


Most of the discussion centered around the need for contractors to solve indoor air quality (IAQ) problems by using a whole-house approach. Part of the overall plan is to include proper venting of chimneys using properly sized chimney liners.

With homes getting tighter and tighter since the 70s, it has become apparent that homes without properly vented air will have poor IAQ. As Tim Begoske, of Field Controls, Kinston, NC, said, “We’re living in a plastic bag. Put that bag over your head and see how long you breathe.”

Manufacturers said the introduction of new appliances in the home has raised the need for redesigned chimney liners.

“Look at the chimney as one part of the system,” said Bob Fish, master chimney sweep, London-derry, VT. A manufacturer stated, “Home builders today are over-sizing chimneys.”

Revisions to the National Fireplace Association specifications (NFPA 31) have highlighted the need for proper sizing of oil- burning furnaces and chimney inserts. Fish and other panelists discussed some of the changes.

Another topic related to IAQ, proper air balancing, was also addressed. One contractor suggested that installers should receive written instructions from manufacturers about how to perform checks — like air balancing, pressure testing, etc. A manufacturer’s response? “All installation procedures have these checklists, but installers don’t always read them.”

The contractor’s rebuttal? “Make them easier to read.”

Rosemary Bartchak of Boyer-town Furnace, Boyertown, PA, summed up some of the problems arising out of newly designed furnaces and older homes. “One problem is that manufacturers are producing 2001 furnaces and putting them in 1945 homes,” she said.


Another large group discussed the pros and cons of using water heaters in place of boilers for radiant systems. The topic has been hotly debated, and the tone was a little tame despite one attendee’s remark, “Let’s stir the pot.”

George Kusterer of Bock Water Heaters, Kurtztown, PA, said, “Water heaters have been the stepchild of our industry for years. Water heaters will not replace boilers, but they are an economical source of heat.”

Kusterer added that concerns about stagnant water in dormant systems shouldn’t be a legionella concern because “Legionella is airborne; it doesn’t breed in water.” But he added that a timing device that circulates water every 24 hours could be included in hot water heater system design.

Like the earlier discussion in the IAQ session, attendees were united in their opinion about designing a “whole system,” whether oil, gas, or hydronic heating.

“If we talk about hydronics, then we have to talk about the new hydronic systems,” said one contractor. “Show a complete system with the electrical and mechanical design — and get away from the component-selling approach.”

The discussion also included concerns about proper training on radiant heat installations. Conversation also centered on how to determine the best system for a home, e.g., staple-up tubing with a heat transfer plate vs. leaving sufficient room for airflow between tubing and the floor. In the end, it was agreed that manufacturers should provide sufficient training and contractors should take the time to adequately train their employees.

One manufacturer’s representative, Stefan Kneuver of Tekmar Controls, said, “There are a lot of screwed-up radiant jobs on the West Coast. Learn from these mistakes.”

Publication date: 06/11/2001

Don Kurz (second from left) congratulates NAOHSM scholarship winners Gregory Sullivan, Timothy Walter, and Matthew Foote (left to right).

Sidebar: NAOHSM Announces Award Winners

NAOHSM gave out special recognition to industry members and votech students during its Awards Banquet. Here are the names and “quick facts” about the award winners:

  • Hugh McKee Award — George Kusterer, Bock Water Heaters, Kurtztown, PA.
  • Service Manager of the Year — Ron Riegel, Meyer Oil Co., Cleona, PA.
  • Manufacturer of the Year — Tom Taubman, Carlin Combustion Technology, East Longmeadow, MA.
  • Associate of the Year — Pat Froio, Jomar Distributors, several MA locations.
  • Dave Nelsen Scholarship Winners:

  • Gregory Sullivan, Old Towne, ME.
  • Matthew Foote, Poughkeepsie, NY.
  • Timothy Walter, Laconia, NH.
  • Brian Grenier, Rutland, MA.
  • Richard Gray, Sanford, ME.
  • James Shorey, North Vassalboro, ME.
  • Publication date: 06/11/2001