Time to Educate Others on IAQ

I enjoyed Joanna Turpin’s article [“Ups and Downs of Minnesota’s Energy Code,” June 12] but must admit to asking myself where those contractors have been for the past 20-plus years. Indoor pollution, excessive moisture, lack of combustion air, back drafting of gas appliances, air changes per hour, air-to-air exchangers, and all of the health problems attributed to a sick house — none of these are new issues, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the industry, and should be routinely dealt with during the design and installation of hvac systems and the building of a house.

Blaming cost (which isn’t that much) as the reason for not dealing with the problems is just the excuse of a contractor who hasn’t educated the builder, and a builder who hasn’t educated the homebuyer. Homebuyers aren’t as naïve as we (in the industry) may think. I run into it all of the time, where someone didn’t buy something only because no one took the time to explain the reasons why they should. And just as many times where the buyer was already aware, and was surprised it wasn’t included.

Sal Sciandra Temperature Engineering Corp. Sterling Heights, MI

Caught in Time

I write this memo on the eve of my departure from humid south Florida to the somewhat less humid climate of north Texas. I am leaving the hvac industry after 28 years to return to my first love, lighting. As I pause and reflect on my experiences in the industry over this time, one thought comes to mind. From the point this industry was at 28 years ago, we should be a lot further ahead in terms of our knowledge, experience, problem-solving capabilities, and employee/management relations than we are presently. Then, perhaps, both technicians and company presidents will be earning the income they justly deserve. This is not sour grapes.

I have experienced virtually everything in this industry from A to Z, except for Hydronics. I would have learned hydronics, but you don’t see many applications in north Texas. This experience includes service tech, designer, engineer, owner, salesman, project manager, estimator, and teacher. My post-secondary teaching experience includes seven years in the Dallas County Community College District. I also spent two years in the role of a research associate at Texas A&M University. My job was to go find ways of saving (not using) energy in Texas state buildings.

As big and wealthy as our industry seems to be, we still cannot control humidity and indoor air quality. In other words, human comfort. Everybody talks about it, but nobody is willing to put their money where their mouth is. By all means, this includes our customers too. We should not be afraid to educate the public. We are the experts. If we are not, then we don’t belong in this business.

I could go on and on about areas that need improvements in our industry. You all know what they are, so I won’t bore you with details. Suffice it to say that we all need to do one fundamental thing much better: COMMUNICATE. That means manufacturers, wholesalers, engineers, technicians, company presidents, and teachers. Then this industry will be where it should be: leaders in the field of providing human comfort.

I close by saying that I had fun. I have experienced the thrill of cleaning the condenser coil inside a packaged rooftop while stuck in the roofing tar on a 113°F day. I have also worked on prototype two-speed heat pumps in the dead of winter. I wish you luck and hope to continue watching your collective efforts via The News.

John Houcek

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Publication date: 09/25/2000