HARTFORD, Conn. - The roundtable discussions are a perennial favorite at the conventions of the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers (NAOHSM), and the 51st annual convention was no exception. A record 5,211 people attended this year's convention at the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford, according to NAOHSM executive administrator Judy Garber, and the roundtable discussions gave many of them ample opportunity to network and share their concerns with industry peers.

This year, there were six separate discussions; each lasted an hour and ran on two consecutive days. The topics were: venting/air quality, oil burners, steam, hydronics, domestic hot water, and theory of combustion.

NAOHSM President Scott Hinkley (left) and Vice President David Bessette (right) hold on as executive administrator Judy Garber cuts the ribbon, opening the organization’s 51st convention. A record number of members attended the event.

A Little Venting

The Newsdropped by the session on venting and air quality. The discussion, led by Bill Wolfe, inside distribution sales representative and IAQ specialist for Honeywell (Plainfield, N.J.), focused on indoor air quality and what oil heat contractors can do to become involved in this rapidly growing market.

Wolfe urged contractors to "think of the house as a system."

Another participant noted, "We are not just in the heating and cooling business, we are in the indoor air quality business. We need to take our blinders off."

Wolfe asked attendees if any of them did blower door testing as part of their load calculations and whole-house energy audits. No one raised a hand.

He suggested that service technicians "have to be good detectives when entering a home. When you open the door, you may be fixing the problem [creating positive pressure]. But you have to ask the customer to recreate the existing symptoms, by shutting windows and turning off fans, etc."

Devices such as ultraviolet (UV) lighting were discussed and how these devices are effective in killing germs. But it was also pointed out that UV lights could not be a re-placement for properly installed and maintained filter media.

Wolfe pointed out that homeowners are now more conscious of IAQ problems, thanks to many products that are heavily advertised, such as the Ionic Breeze air cleaner sold by the Sharper Image. Although this product was not a favorite of roundtable attendees, they did acknowledge that it has helped awaken consumer consciousness about the importance of IAQ.

"Many things affect air quality," Wolfe said. "And it is not necessarily the last thing touched by a technician."

Publication date: 06/21/2004