Think Of Education As An Investment

Mark Skaer's editorial "The Kids Are All Right" [March 22] was very interesting. I am retired after 38 years in the industry and was in the technical education field. From talking to thousands of contractors, their main concern, as we already know, is the lack of qualified technicians. A good contractor considers education and continued education as an investment, not an expense. With industry technology as it is today, the skills and skill levels required to provide consumer approval and industry standards are overwhelming.

As long as we have contractors (I hope in the minority) with the attitude demonstrated by contactors 1 and 2, we will never raise the level of acceptance by the consumer or manpower requirements. My recommendation to contractors 1 and 2 and anyone fitting this profile is to get out of the industry.

David Anderlik
Wagram, N.C.

Illuminating The UVC Light Subject

The Dec. 11 ASHRAE [American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers] weekly eNewsletter had an item with a link to a study done in Norway on the application of UVC (germicidal ultraviolet) lights into an A/C system. The conclusion of the study was that UVC was not effective in positively impacting indoor air quality (IAQ).

In the study, UVC lights were placed in the return air section of the air handler. No UVC lights were placed on the supply (cold) side of the cooling coil because the initial mold counts were low. However, this is the part of the air-handling unit [AHU] - when in the cooling mode - where there is the most water activity. (Water vapor in the air changes to condensate as the air passes through the coil.) Therefore, the cooling coil and the drain pan are a significant source of microbial growth (mold grows where it's wet!) within the AHU.

We are corresponding with the researchers in this study who felt that it would not have made a difference had they installed UVC lights in this location. However, a peer-reviewed scientific study conducted by Richard Shaughnessy and Estelle Levetin of the University of Tulsa [showed that] placement of UVC lights downstream of the cooling coil showed dramatic reductions in fungal growth both on the coil and internal insulation. We have forwarded this study, along with the recent ARTI [Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology Institute] commissioned study done at the Research Triangle Institute by Doug Van Osdell and Karin Foarde that concludes "... UVC systems can be used to inactivate a substantial fraction of environment bioaerosols in a single pass." [We sent these studies to] the researchers in Norway and asked them to reconsider their current assumptions.

Properly applied, UVC is a technology that has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to positively impact IAQ. Hopefully, as the use of UVC technology becomes more commonplace, ASHRAE will be able to form a technical committee to begin to establish guidelines and best practices for product testing and applications.

Dan Young
IAQ-Energy Solutions Inc.

Technical Education Is A Must

[Editor's note: This letter is in response to Mark Skaer's editorial "The Kids Are All Right," March 22.]

The comments by contractor 2 are typical of people who are living in the past or want someone they can hold at low wages for a long period while they "train" them.

I have been in the business since 1947, and even then I went to trade school and served an apprenticeship and am still learning on a daily basis. I think when I started it might have been possible for someone to learn most of what he needed to know on the job.

There were reasons for that. Wages were cheap, it was mostly basic refrigeration (A/C wasn't a big part of the industry), controls were all on-off switches, competition (at least in my area) was not as stiff as today, and the pace of life was much slower, allowing more time for on-the-job training.

Today, with all the electronics and microprocessors in even the most basic equipment, the high cost of wages and benefits, government regulations, etc., I don't believe that one of his fifth-year technicians could come to work for our company as a second-year apprentice.

Art Dobson
Educational Coordinator
MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions

Wind Chill Factor Is Fuel For Thought

Thirty years ago, I worked for a heating company in Homewood, Ill., delivering fuel oil to homes that had oil heat. They used to know when to refuel by the degree days. Sometimes customers would call and say they were out of oil, but according to the degree day chart, we said that it couldn't be.

The reason they ran out of fuel is that the wind chill factor was never added to the degree day, and to this day, I'm not sure if it is, but this would bring the accuracy of degree days to almost perfect.

Jim Mazies
University of Chicago

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Publication date: 05/24/2004