When it comes to boiler needs and installations, no two projects are the same. The most reliable manufacturers and installation and service companies pivot based on the demands of individual projects to meet the needs of their customers. NTI has done just that throughout its over 50-year history. Each project presents individual challenges, and often Read More
When it comes to boiler needs and installations, no two projects are the same. The most reliable manufacturers and installation and service companies pivot based on the demands of individual projects to meet the needs of their customers. NTI has done just that throughout its over 50-year history. Each project presents individual challenges, and often the key to success is selecting the right product and having the technical expertise and the ability to communicate to clients effectively.
The Noble and Greenough School is one of those clients. It is a coeducational, nonsectarian day and five-day boarding school for grades seven through 12. It is near Boston on a 187-acre campus that borders the Charles River in Dedham, Massachusetts. Former students included former president John F. Kennedy.
The installation site was in the Nickerson Castle (now simply known as “The Castle”) built in 1890 for railroad tycoon Albert W. Nickerson. The Noble and Greenough School bought it in 1921 and now uses The Castle for dining services and other uses. They were having significant problems with their domestic hot water system for the rooms and kitchen, which served all 615 students. The existing boilers fell into disrepair and were having difficulty keeping up with the day-to-day school operations. Unfortunately, because the current boiler took up a small space, finding a replacement to fit the area, without requiring relocation in this historic building, was the main issue.
EMCOR Services Northeast (emcornortheast.com) is a large Boston-based mechanical service contractor that specializes in mechanical retrofit installations, HVAC maintenance and controls. They tackled the space challenge. Mark Christensen of EMCOR contacted Randy Gilman of Jomar Distributors, of Watertown, MA. Jomar reached out to NTI’s VP of Sales, Dave Walsh and Regional Manager, Ted Lowe. They recommended two NTI Lx-500 boilers because they would fit right where the original had been. The new Lx boiler would feed four existing 200-gallon indirect water heaters.
EMCOR’s experienced installation team were able to swap out the boiler utilizing the same boiler pad and had the system up and running in a matter of days while the school was shut down over the Christmas break. Both Dave Walsh and Ted Lowe worked on site with EMCOR to assure a smooth installation and commissioning. With EMCOR providing annual preventative maintenance, the boiler is expected to last significantly longer than the previous one, and with fewer issues. Mark Christensen of EMCOR stated: “I couldn’t be happier with the product and support I received from NTI.”
The take home message is that for the companies you work with, whether they are on the manufacturing side like NTI or on the installation and service side like EMCOR, the key is having knowledgeable employees and easy to work with staff. While equipment being high quality is a given, getting that equipment from people who know how to explain its operation and can work effectively with you and your team is essential.
When creating the right office atmosphere, comfort is key. Employers want to ensure teams are not too warm where they may get sleepy, while also not too cold that they cannot concentrate. Unfortunately, many different types of workplaces face year-round temperature challenges and struggle to strike the perfect balance to keep all employees comfortable and Read More
When creating the right office atmosphere, comfort is key. Employers want to ensure teams are not too warm where they may get sleepy, while also not too cold that they cannot concentrate. Unfortunately, many different types of workplaces face year-round temperature challenges and struggle to strike the perfect balance to keep all employees comfortable and focused.
In the winter, it is important to keep cold drafts at bay without overheating, while in the summer a cool and comfortable environment is ideal. Discovering the right level of comfort by adjusting the temperature throughout an entire facility can be inefficient and unnecessarily costly. When workstations, desks and counters leave some team members in the cold, supplemental electric radiant heating can keep temperatures comfortable and workers happy.
In fact, there are portable radiant heaters specifically designed to provide personalized, targeted warmth to employees that also are energy efficient. Here are a few attributes to consider when selecting a portable radiant heater to counter a workplace chill.
Silence is Golden
The physical work environment can have a significant impact on worker productivity—whether it’s the temperature, the layout or the resources available. When improving the temperature of a facility, it is vital to ensure the solution does not create a separate issue by increasing sound levels. Buzzing heaters or loud fans can quickly become a source of frustration (and possible safety hazard) for individuals trying to concentrate or communicate with one another in a quiet space.
Radiant heating technology functions without using a fan or blower, allowing units to heat up without creating a distraction or moving any air. Employees will barely notice when a unit is running, aside from the targeted warmth silently filling their space.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
When providing heat to a specific area in a facility, it can be difficult to find room for a large, bulky heater. Depending on the type of workspace, it also can be hazardous to expose certain materials to direct heat, creating a need to adjust the layout to accommodate a hefty heater.
Look for portable radiant heaters designed to tuck away into small spaces without impacting workplace design. A freestanding unit with a thin profile can easily slide under tables or desks without taking up excess space. In addition, a slim unit that fits into a variety of spaces can be used and moved throughout a facility to heat specific areas based on employee needs throughout the year.
Part of the temperature dilemma many workplaces face is differing levels of comfort preferences for each employee. While some workers feel a facility is frigid in the summer, others may be quite comfortable or find it too warm.
Soft heat provided by portable radiant heaters is less harsh than other heating sources. These heaters provide a consistent, gentle warmth to objects and individuals in the immediate area, without pushing intense heat that can get lost in the air. An under-the-desk heater should be safe to the touch and also offer controls to regulate how much heat is distributed in the area to ensure just the targeted spots are affected. This creates a pleasant work environment while lowering heating costs.
Plug and Go
A portable heater should be just that—fully portable from one location to the next. If wiring is involved or a thermostat is needed, the unit is not truly portable. One employee may only need a heater in the winter months, while another may require additional warmth when the AC kicks on in the summer. Likewise, certain areas of a facility like a warehouse or garage may run cold depending on the time of year, prompting a need for a portable heater that is easily accessible with a simple plug into the wall.
A convenient power cord and three-pronged plug ensures a portable heater can warm almost any space without the need for extra wiring, complicated installs or a thermostat connection. In addition, the unit should offer versatility for where it can be situated within a space – such as mounted on a wall or supported on a floor stand.
Under a desk, inside a nook or behind a workbench are all ideal spots for a portable heater. But these areas can be poorly lit, making it difficult to see and use the heater’s controls. Fumbling in the dark to turn on/off or adjust a unit can be frustrating or potentially dangerous.
Opt for a portable radiant heater with an on/off switch that features a built-in light showcasing the important controls even in dark spaces. This light will allow employees to safely use the heater without straining into uncomfortable positions to flip a switch.
When selecting a portable heater, choose convenience and efficiency over bulk and heft, and look for units designed to meet specific heating demands—such as under-the-desk warmth—to ensure the right amount of warmth is provided.
For example, the Qmark 202SL radiant plug-in under desk portable heater offers personalized, energy efficient warmth for offices, workstations, conference rooms, reception areas and more.
Jim Herring is the supervisor of Total Custom Solutions & Technical Services at Marley Engineered Products, a leading North American designer and manufacturer of reliable comfort heating and ventilation solutions for residential, commercial and institutional buildings.
Nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of Northern Lancaster County sits a beautiful, spacious house that was confronted with a very nasty problem. The homeowners were facing uncomfortable temperatures in both the heating and cooling seasons. The summers here can become hot and humid and the winters at times can be brutal with chilling winds Read More
Nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of Northern Lancaster County sits a beautiful, spacious house that was confronted with a very nasty problem. The homeowners were facing uncomfortable temperatures in both the heating and cooling seasons. The summers here can become hot and humid and the winters at times can be brutal with chilling winds and abusively cold temperatures. Thomas Soukup, Patriot Water Heater Co., Kirkwood, Pa., was contacted by the homeowner to come in and investigate these issues and come up with a custom solution to alleviate these pain points.
Right off the bat, Soukup was presented with end-of-life, direct expansion, refrigerant-based heat pumps. With the tremendous amount of electric backup heat, the customer experienced bills exceeding one thousand dollars a month. The three-story house is 4500 sq. ft. of an open floor plan, contemporary design.
Anyone who has dealt with these types of homes before knows that when dealing with open staircases it creates a very efficient pathway for the conditioned air to go where it does not belong. All the hot air from the lower rooms chimneys upstairs when you do not need it to and vice versa with the cool air. This creates many challenges in creating a space that is comfortable. Also, to top it off, the house has many windows which creates tremendous solar gain and air infiltration.
Pinpoint zoning and control in the different living areas becomes a headache. In the winter months, homeowners could wear tropical clothing on the third floor but need a snow suit on when on the main floor. Obviously, the customer wanted this problem rectified.
First step was the math. Soukup provided a heat loss and heat gain calculation. The calculations were performed on a granular basis: doing the math on a per room basis. Measurements were taken of the available duct work and registers to figure out if they would be able to provide the correct amount of heating and cooling.
Soukup sat down with the customer and figured out how the house was originally zoned with three separate air handlers. Each handler was controlling multiple areas across different floors and the layout was scattered and improperly designed. It also was clearly not the most efficient way of zoning out the structure.
A kitchen and solarium remodel were in planning stage at the time of the calculations. Soukup learned that all the current ductwork on the registers were going to be covered by cabinetry. For the remodeled solarium and cabinet design, there would be no way to add additional ductwork to handle the load. Other solutions would need to be considered due to this.
The customer also brought to my attention in the planning phase of our project that their pool heater had failed, and swimming was a very important part of their daily regimen. While this slightly altered the design somewhat, it did cement the idea that a high-efficiency hydronic system was by far the best solution for both the heating and the cooling.
Soukup chose a reverse cycle chiller for cooling and heating. Also installed was a mod-con boiler for the higher heating demands. One of the unique challenges was being able to run the chillers in cooling mode while running the mod-con boiler in heating mode to heat the pool and domestic hot water. A point of demarcation was created to separate the cooling system and the heating system. That was done with a buffer tank that the chillers were piped into and off that tank the circulator pumps were piped for the heating and cooling zones.
This also gave the advantage that when the chillers were used in heating mode and not able to keep up with demand, the boiler would provide that supplemental heat to the buffer tank. This was done with careful hydronic design and strategic placement of pumps.
In the solarium, due to the remodel, additional heating and cooling needed to be added to accommodate the new layout. A hydronic high-wall emitter was installed on the wall in an inconspicuous location where the kitchen met the solarium in a large opening. That gave that pinpoint cooling and heating needed and gave the customer the ability to control the level of comfort at will.
Additional air flow was needed to the bedroom side of the house as well as the master bedroom on the third floor. To make this a non-invasive install and to reuse as much of the previously installed ductwork, the decision was made to block off the vents in the lowest portion of that zone (an exercise room). Since that lowest room had the lowest requirements another hydronic high-wall emitter in that area. This opened the air flow to go to the critical rooms.
This was a perfect solution to go with ECM pumps and Soukup chose Grundfos Alpha2 ΔP. This created the opportunity to use less pumps and get the flow where it was needed, when it was needed.
Spacepak Chiller Control was installed to allow for the switch between heating and cooling based on thermostat demand. It also allowed to bring the boiler online to satisfy additional demand based on the outdoor temperature.
This is where the math is critical. Based on the loss calculations and the EDR (equivalent direction radiation) it allows it to know at what point additional water temperature was needed to satisfy the demand. This situation required 40-degree outdoor temperature for the boiler to come online and the chillers to go offline. Soukup arrived at this by looking at the temperature curves of the chillers based on the ambient outdoor temperature. The boiler was set up on an outdoor reset curve as well.
As a professional in the industry, when Soukup is presented with unique situations, he looks outside of the box to provide custom solutions. A large focus is put on looking at a problem analytically: marrying mathematics with proper products and equipment. Even if he’s used a product before and trust it, he always makes sure to study the manufacturer specs to know its strengths, weaknesses and what other auxiliary systems he needs to make it operate at peak efficiency.
The customer was satisfied and happy. Soukup walked away knowing he had taken the time to listen to their needs, see where the previous system had failed and give them something flexible and reliable, they could enjoy year after year. No matter how hot the summer, or how biting the winter they now have what everyone deserves. Comfort in their homes.
Information was provided by Thomas Soukup, Patriot Water Heater Co. Please visit www.patriotwaterheater.com.
It’s nearly mid-2019. Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018? How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of Read More
It’s nearly mid-2019. Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018? How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of your community.
“A high-quality truck wrap is one of the cheapest, most effective forms of marketing available to heating and cooling contractors,” said Gary Nolt, president of Cassel, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based sign and vinyl shop with 18 employees. “If you break down the number of impressions a vehicle wrap provides, divided by the cost and lifespan of the wrap, the average cost per one thousand impressions is $.15. Compare that to $5.92 for radio advertising, $11.66 for a quarter-page newspaper ad, or $20.54 for a prime time TV spot.”
Cassel wraps or letters roughly 500 service vans each year—it makes of 35 percent of their business. The company was founded in 1945, and has progressed from hand-lettering furniture and trucks to become a one-stop-shop branding, design and display company. Custom vinyl vehicle wraps are what they specialize in, from Smart Cars to semi-trailers.
“My father in law started in the family business when he was 15 years old,” said Nolt. “I’ve been here for 22 years. As a matter of fact, my very first project here was the Burnham Racing trailer. That was in the spring of 1996 I purchased the company in 2012, and we recently opened a second location.”
During his two decades with the company, one of the biggest changes Cassel has witnessed is the marketing mindset of service contractors. It’s one of the reasons that Cassel has made a strong shift from sign production to vehicle wraps.
“Everyone is busy right now, so it would almost make sense to think companies would be trimming their marketing budgets a little,” said Nolt. “But the opposite is true. It’s a branding war out there, and nobody can afford to give up an inch. This is the prevailing mindset today.”
After providing truck wraps for a company that hasn’t used them in the past, Cassel gets the same kind of feedback regularly. First and foremost, business owners say that the phone rings more often.
“Contractors tell me that their customers comment on how frequently they notice their wrapped trucks around town,” said Nolt. “They own one or two vans and customers think they own five or 10.”
He explained that trucks with a fresh wrap also go a long way to boost the driver’s pride and professionalism. Most employees tend to take better care of a nice looking vehicle.
“Many contractors come to us because they want to increase their brand awareness, so branding is where we start,” said Nolt. “If a new logo is needed, we can help. If they have a good logo, or if they want to update an existing image, we can work with that, too. There’s really no limit to the process, but we want to help them achieve consistency across all platforms. The message they deliver visually should be current and forward thinking.”
“If you’re going to market yourself, you ought to do it well,” he continued. “If the service you provide is good, shouldn’t your image convey as much?”
The designers at Cassel are excellent at creating a look and scaling it to fit a canvas, whether that canvas be a business card or a brand new box van. But it helps if the customer already have an idea of what they would like to accomplish. At the very least, the service company should know what they don’t like.
“If you’re grasping at straws and starting out fresh, spend some time on Google,” explained Nolt. “What catches your eye? Or, on the flip side of the coin, what makes you cringe? Then identify what it is about those designs that makes you feel the way you do. When you come to a shop like ours, it will help if you already have some direction in mind, even if it’s a vague concept.”
While budget is obviously a consideration, it’s not a limiting factor. Cassel insists that there’s a solution for every budget, from small lettering panels to massive, fully wrapped fleets.
“We really try to over-serve customers, even when the budget is small,” said Nolt. “If we provide a good product, and they go out and succeed with it, they’ll be back for more later on.”
To keep things simple, truck lettering and wrapping options are broken into packages: lettering packages, partial wraps & full wraps. Based on the color of the vehicle and the design of the wrap, the appearance of a full wrap can sometimes be achieved without the full cost.
“If the simplest of designs and a small budget will help you grow your brand, we want to help,” said Nolt. “That might only be the company name and number in a nice font. The only thing we discourage is magnets. We can and do make magnets, when requested, but we feel as though magnets tell the world that you’re in this business temporarily. And that’s not a message you want to convey.”
Modern truck wraps are made of specialized vinyl, 2mm thick with a 1.3mm UV laminate over top. Cassel has a large format printer that can print up to 64” wide. The state-of-the-art printer can produce almost any color at all. A paint reader is used to match vehicle colors, if needed.
Once a design is created and the customer signs the project, the physical work begins.
“A full wrap typically takes a week or two, start to finish,” said Nolt. “Customers will often buy new trucks or vans and bring them directly here from the lot. But in a situation where the van is needed immediately, we can make it happen a lot more quickly.”
Before installation, vehicles are meticulously washed. Door handles and lights are removed, and the whole exterior is wiped down with alcohol. Only then is vinyl applied. After the material is adhered to the body of the vehicle, heat is applied to the edges and stretched areas.
“Like all technologies and products, vinyl has progressed rapidly in the past decade,” explained Nolt. “The material we use requires a 24 to 48 hour bonding period. When first installed, the bond between vinyl and truck exterior is mild, so it’s easier to work with. After settling for a day or two, that bond becomes much stronger.”
The vinyl used today also has microscopic air channels on the backside, allowing the installer to push air bubbles out without much trouble.
In an effort to provide value to the customer, Cassel has done a lot of research on which ink products last the longest. How long a truck wrap lasts will depend on a number of factors, primarily how the vehicle is cared for and the number of miles it’s driven.”
“High pressure washing a wrapped vehicle is fine, but it should be done carefully and sparingly,” explained Nolt. “Generally keeping the truck clean protects the wrap, but that’s something you should be doing anyway, for the sake of the company image.”
A quality, well-installed truck wrap will last roughly the service life of the vehicle, up to 10 years. Wraps look very good for easily five to seven years. Imagine how many customers see your vehicle in a seven year period.
“I like to think that Cassel has grown for the same reason a lot of our customers have grown: we provide an excellent product at a great value,” said Nolt. “But there’s another part of the equation. I’m surrounded by a lot of really bright, ambitious, trustworthy people. I credit Cassel’s success to the team of people that work here. We are a big family. I’m grateful for them, and I’m grateful for the solid business-to-business heritage here in Lancaster.”
Identifies hard to see problems and saves homeowners money For many years, utilities and large companies used thermal imaging to uncover potential heat problems across large areas and to keep track of heavy machinery. But more recently, thermal imaging has truly become a game changer for most contractors and others in the building trades. Thermal Read More
Identifies hard to see problems and saves homeowners money
For many years, utilities and large companies used thermal imaging to uncover potential heat problems across large areas and to keep track of heavy machinery. But more recently, thermal imaging has truly become a game changer for most contractors and others in the building trades. Thermal cameras help contractors find and document energy loss and other problems they could not otherwise easily find. This saves them time and money – which ultimately results in homeowners saving money. Most recently, contractors have begun to combine portable thermal imaging cameras with moisture meters. Using thermal imaging to find the issue and the moisture meter to verify it saves time and helps avoid surprises that will ultimately cost homeowners more.
Thermal imaging benefits contractors and homeowners
Thermal imaging detects heat given off by an object or person. It takes the energy and translates it into light that can be seen. Using the typical “Ironbow” color palette, the viewer sees the light in a range of colors: red, orange, and yellow indicates heat, while dark blue, black, or purple signifies colder temperature. Cold can represent air leaks through door and window frames, missing insulation, and water – especially evaporating water. No other technology can provide this information. Using radiation energy, contractors can now actually “see” energy loss. It is like giving contractors a super power! Thermal imaging is extremely sensitive; potential problems stand out and can be found and documented in real time.
Home inspectors were the first to adopt the use of thermal imaging, but all the building trades are now jumping on board. Most recently electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers have started to use thermal imaging to find problem areas quicker—and from a safer distance. In essence, thermal imaging can be used by all trades – if they are not using it now they should start using it.
The number one application contractors use thermal imaging for is to locate energy loss in hotter and colder months caused by missing insulation and poor sealing around doors and windows. Interestingly, the number two use is to locate pest infestations, including termites and rodents. While thermal imaging cannot “see” a single termite, it is excellent for locating termite nests, because of the massive amount of heat generated by huge numbers of termites living together. The third most common application is for detecting water intrusion in houses and business. Thermal imaging points contractors in the right direction, and moisture meters are then used to isolate the problem.
One other essential feature of thermal imaging is that it can be used to document issues to show customers. As a contractor who works closely with clients, I believe it is absolutely crucial that customers have a clear and in-depth understanding of what is going on with their project. Thermal imaging gives contractors the ability to proactively bring up and demonstrate issues. If the issue is something they should be concerned with, it is important to be able to document that issue with a picture or video. The more information homeowners have, the better off they will be.
Pairing thermal imaging with moisture meters offers a one-two punch
Recently, many in the building trades have begun to realize the benefits of pairing thermal imaging with moisture meters. This combination is especially effective because thermal imaging by itself does not distinguish between cold temperatures and moisture. Both show up as a dark blue image, so contractors cannot tell if the image indicates moisture or cold air. Using the two technologies together, they can simultaneously find energy loss and moisture intrusion – giving contractors a real one-two punch.
Using thermal imaging to find the issue and the moisture meter to verify it saves time – by taking the moisture meter to the area of concern a contractor can isolate the problem and quickly determine its seriousness and extent. Before the ability to pair the two technologies, contractors had moisture meters, but they had to tear the entire wall down to address a suspected problem. Using the non-contact or non-invasive/non-destructive detection methods together helps contractors confine the problem to a smaller area so they can avoid taking that wall down. The moisture meter will indicate if the spot is a matter for concern.
New affordable technology makes combining thermal imaging and moisture reading a snap
In the past few years I have been bringing thermal imaging and moisture reading equipment to every job site I visit. I use the FLIR ONE® PRO thermal imaging camera attachment in combination with the FLIR MR40 moisture meter. Both are extremely easy to use, which is especially helpful for those contractors who are not particularly tech savvy. You can attach the thermal camera to your smart phone, and the phone becomes the viewer.
I started using FLIR thermal imaging technology some years ago and this latest third generation technology has significantly improved, with even better image quality. At a cost of only $399, the FLIR ONE Pro is much more affordable for contractors than in the past. It also pays off quickly because of the money saved by finding problems more quickly.
Especially useful is the multi spectral dynamic imaging (MSX) technology, which enables users to overlay the visual with the thermal to get a clear image that the contractor can then decipher. This means users are not just seeing a screen of colors, they are seeing the definition of what they are looking at.
MSX incorporates real-time thermal video enhanced with visible spectrum definition. It produces exceptional thermal clarity to highlight exactly where the problem is. MSX ensures easier target identification without compromising radiometric data. The quality of the thermal images is excellent, with almost no need for a separate digital image. With MSX, thermal images look sharper, the orientation of the target is done more quickly and the reports are clutter-free. Users can see the results of MSX technology directly on the touchscreen of the camera, in real time.
Another practical feature of the FLIR ONE Pro is the 1-fit connector. This allows users to adjust the camera’s fit, so they can use the attachment with thicker cell phone cases.
The FLIR MR40 moisture meter is my go-to option, primarily because it is so easy to use. Anyone can operate it easily, even if they have never used a moisture meter before. The portable, rugged moisture meter comes with an integrated flashlight. It is also small and tough, fitting easily in a pocket. I have used it in tight spaces and I have dropped it, and the meter remains accurate and incredibly reliable. It is affordable and a quick tool to find and quantify moisture content. When used in combination with a thermal camera, MR40 can help confirm whether a cold spot in a thermal image is moisture, and measure the severity of the problem. If it measures in the 20 percent range or above, it would be considered a problem. Below 10 percent it would not be considered a problem.
Other all in one imagers plus moisture meter options include the FLIR MR160 and the MR176. With these options there is no need to carry two separate pieces of equipment.
New technology provides contractors with peace of mind
Using the FLIR ONE Pro in combination with the FLIR MR40 moisture meter has made a big difference in my business. I look on them as tools like all the others that would be used on a job, but they are especially important in the initial phase of dealing with customers and quoting jobs. In the past unforeseen issues would arise that would bring higher costs. Now, contractors can virtually see the invisible, reducing unforeseen and unwelcome surprises often costing more money to repair.
As a contractor, the tools provide peace of mind, and also ensure the situation has been thoroughly examined. I never leave home without them.
By Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s Desperate Landscape, Man Caves and Sledgehammer.