Sunday, March 24, 2013

Many homes may not be adequately protected by smoke detectors

Testing of most home and business smoke detectors have fascinated me for many years. In the 80s I worked for a Telecommunications company and we tested smoke detectors are our plants and offices using smoke. The test method for detectors commonly used in homes is by pressing a bottom attached to the detector.

One can almost instantly reason that the process does not test for smoke but closes the sensor circuit that the smoke would close after smoke was sensed. This leaves me to think that smoke detector testing fall short of assuring someone that the unit is working to the point where warning is effective.

There are two major detector designs commonly used in homes or businesses. One is ionization the other photoelectric. The ionization can absorb a fair amount of smoke without triggering a sensor. The problem is more with the profile of the smoke and not the functionality of the sensor. Smoke can engulf an area without noticeable combustion. Photoelectric sensors react much quicker to limited smoke thereby providing a bigger window of opportunity to escape a fire.

Various studied have been conducted with regards to smoke detectors. There have been many reports where batteries were replaced, the unit tested but the sensor did not work when in the presence of smoke. There is no doubt smoke sensors save many lives each year, yet but there are many reports of death and severe injure caused because these units did not work.

Since I don’t recommend using smoke sources from combustion to test sensors and artificial smoke is not readily available I recommend installing both types of detectors in homes and businesses. Installing both detectors would afford home owners the warning needed to escape fires. Sensors can be tested for operation by personnel trained to perform these tests.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

License required for Energy Efficiency Work.

Texas Law Makers propose Energy Audits be undertaken by License contr.
Posted on 2013-03-21 06:35:54

Texas Law makers have taken a leadership role with so called energy efficiency experts by proposing these experts hold a Texas Contractors License. There are many companies / Institutions with offices outside Texas that are influencing the HVAC industry adversely to the detriment of the customer. Imagine having individuals with no technicial experiment charging home owners hundreds of dollars for service they have no business being involved with.

Home owners are flooded with information from magazines and over nite consulting compaines with no Technical or Engineering knowledge and unspecting customers are unable to determine if the information is real or fiction. To say to a home owner their air-conditioner needs replacing at costs ranging from $5000.00 to $14,000 because of effeciency without the means of determining effeciency upgrade is unacceptable.

We need language to include a means of proving efficiency prior and concluding any efficiency upgrade that costs more than $500.00.

BPI provides a very informative program for energy auditing. This program should work well for License HVAC contractors.

Below is the content of the proposed leglisation. I encourage all License contractors to express their support for the bill.

Texas Bill Regulating Energy Auditing Work
Public comments accepted until March 26 hearing held in Austin 

Texas, March 21, 2013 - Texas Senate's Committee on Business and Commerce held a hearing on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 on legislation that would regulate and narrowly restrict the definition of Energy Efficiency Professionals. Texas Senate Bill 617 and companion House Bill 1522 would require that energy auditors be licensed as HVAC contractors if they include HVAC equipment in their audit inspections, recommendations and reports.  The sponsoring Senator's office indicates virtually no objections have been raised to this legislation.  Minutes from yesterday's meeting may be found at the website for Senate Committee Meetings for Business and Commerce.

Under the proposed legislation, state-licensed Energy Efficiency Professionals would be required to "obtain a certification through an applicable training and certification program accredited by a state or national regulating body".

BPI certifications would not be recognized as an applicable HVAC certification program under the current wording of the legislation, effectively barring BPI certified professionals from conducting energy audits and developing scopes of work for energy upgrades that include HVAC measures, unless also licensed as an HVAC contractor.
These bills have been developed with assistance by Texas HERO and ACCA Texas.

To read the two bills, click on the hyperlinks below.

Senate Bill SB 617
Sponsored by Senator John J. Carona: District 16

House Bill HB 1522
Sponsored by Representative Ryan Guillen (D)

If you have comments or suggested language changes you would like to submit to this open, consensus-based process, the committee requests you submit them by CLOSE OF BUSINESS, Thursday, March 21, 2013 to:
Kelsey Erickson: or
Katy Johnson:

The Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce will hold its next meeting next week to hear stakeholders express their views.  BPI certified professionals or others who may wish to educate bill sponsors about or encourage bill sponsors to accept verifiable skills associated with national standards and professional personnel certifications relying on rigorous written and practical field exams may wish to attend.  Texan BPI certified professionals may also wish to immediately contact their local House and Senate Bill sponsors (see links below) as well as their federal representatives to express their views.

Senator Carona acknowledges "that language of the file version of the bill needs a little work, (and is) asking all stakeholders to work with committee staff in the coming week, that is week singular, to reserve any outstanding issues so that we can lay out a committee substitute for the next meeting".

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Preventive verses Corrective Maintenance

Posted on 2013-03-16 10:34:26

When you employ the services of a preventive maintenance company, you are affording yourself of services far beyond that of Home Warranty companies. Preventive Maintenance companies have engineering back ground and experience. They have certifications in various disciplines that are of benefit to the home or business owner.

Building efficiency technologies have bee advancing at a rapid pace in the last ten years. Preventive maintenance companies thrive on advances in building technologies. Areas such as weatherization, building air leakage, building smoke management, building ventilation, electrical advances, efficient plumbing are areas that should be of interest to home and building owners.

Home Warranty companies are operate like insurance companies. The localize a problem and attempt to repair that component if they think the defect is within the perceived coverage. They may decide the defect is due to lack of maintenance (maintenance) or the defect is as a result of abuse.

Preventive maintenance companies charge less than home warranty companies and provide so much more including peace of mind and superior service. Although many preventive maintenance companies do not specify itemized home appliances, they usually have appliances technicians with experience with ice makers, disposal units, dish washers and laundry equipment. These companies will maintain the items if requested during an initial inspection.

Preventive maintenance companies maintain electrical, plumbing, building finishes and air-conditioning systems. These services account for 95% of home defects. Preventive maintenance companies maintain profitability by preventing surprise break down. No effort is spared in ensuring break down occur rarely.

Most preventive maintenance companies do not charge for labor to repair defects resulting after an inspected component.

Below is a sample of an itemized maintenance program .

TRIMCOS Engineering and Construction / WILLIAMS Air Technologies
CONDITIONING TUNE-UP (Spring Service) 2013.


Why preventive maintenance?

Heater Maintenance checks.

• Perform carbon monoxide leak test of heat exchanger/combustion chamber.
• Check vent system for obstructions and carbon monoxide leaks.
• Check heat exchanger for soot, cracking and deformation.
• Inspect gas valve for leaks, corrosion, restrictions, proper opening and
abnormal noise.
• Inspect ignition assembly for proper lighting and flame monitoring.
• Check for any gas leaks.
• Check high limit controls and roll out switches.
• Lubricate blower, combustion and pump motors.
Inspect heating elements and condition of isolators.
Inspect brealers and safety devices. 
• Inspect air filtration system.
• Inspect gas burner system.
• Check and adjust manifold gas pressure for proper flame control.
• Check and tighten all required areas of the electrical system.
• Check operation of thermostat and adjust (if required, and if thermostat has adjustment
• Check temperature rise across heat exchanger for proper temperature.(Diagnose if
temperature is incorrect.)
• Complete operations sequence.
Annual 125.00
  • Annual water heater maintenance.
  • Inspect exterior of tank.
  • Pressure flush tank
  • Inspect control valve.
  • Inspect burner assembly.
  • Inspect gas valves, lines and fillings.
  • Conduct a gas leak test.
  • Inspect drain and pan treat pan with chemical tabs.
  • Inspect venting and electrical connections.
  • Simulate operation and ensure unit is clean and dry.
  • Annual Electrical Breaker box.
  • Inspect exterior of electrical box for water leak and rust.
  • Ensure panel door is in place and operates properly.
  • Remove inner panel and inspect for pitting and arcing.
  • Inspect for loose connections
  • Tighten all connections; use thermal test for heating.
$60.00 per year.

Annual air-conditioning.

 • Clean condenser coil (outside unit).
• Check all electrical connections on outside unit.
• Check condenser fan motor for worn bearings and lubrication openings (where
• Check contractor points for burned or pitted contacts.
• Check condenser coil for degradation and corrosion.
• Connect Freon® gauges and electrical temperature and power consumption .
 • Check inside air return for air tight integrity and
adequate filter grill surface area.
• Check air return in attic for air leaks and proper size.
• Check and clean blower motor and wheel (if
needed), and lubricate motor (if applicable).
• Check connections to evaporator coil for air leaks and condensation.
• Check evaporator coil.
• Clean around the attic equipment and be sure all doors and connections are secure.
• Check for proper air flow for the system size.
• Check the ducts visually to see any obvious trouble with the duct system.
• Check thermostat for accuracy.
• Check outside unit through the entire operating mode to insure minimum power
consumption and maximum cooling capacity.
• Disconnect all test equipment from unit (replace all panels and caps).
• Check Freon® gauge access ports to be sure they are not leaking.
• Check temperature difference across evaporator coil.
• Check refrigerant pressures.
• Pick up drop cloths from under the stairway.
• Inform homeowner of any needed repairs or upgrades.
2 visits $160.00 per year.

  Annual water heater maintenance.
  • Inspect exterior of tank.
  • Pressure flush tank
  • Inspect control valve.
  • Inspect burner assembly.
  • Inspect gas valves, lines and fillings.
  • Conduct a gas leak test.
  • Inspect drain and pan treat pan with chemical tabs.
  • Inspect venting and electrical connections.
  • Simulate operation and ensure unit is clean and dry.
  • Annual Electrical Breaker box.
  • Inspect exterior of electrical box for water leak and rust.
  • Ensure panel door is in place and operates properly.
  • Remove inner panel and inspect for pitting and arcing.
  • Inspect for loose connections
  • Tighten all connections; use thermal test for heating.
$60.00 per year.
  •  Annual water heater maintenance.
  • Inspect exterior of tank.
  • Pressure flush tank
  • Inspect control valve.
  • Inspect burner assembly.
  • Inspect gas valves, lines and fillings.
  • Conduct a gas leak test.
  • Inspect drain and pan treat pan with chemical tabs.
  • Inspect venting and electrical connections.
  • Simulate operation and ensure unit is clean and dry.
  • Annual water heating $60.00.

  • Annual Electrical  and Breaker box.
  • Inspect exterior of electrical box for water leak and rust.
  • Ensure panel door is in place and operates properly.
  • Remove inner panel and inspect for  arcing and over heating.
  • Observe for dimming of lights and short power interruptions.
  • Inspect for loose or hanging fixtures.
  • Inspect for loose fans and grills.
  • Replace burnt bulbs.
  • Inspect for loose  switches and socket outlets.
  • Annual 125.00

    Payment Type
    Card #
    Security code.:
    Senior Citizen and Military

    Home Warranty companies have poor customer ratings.

    Home Warranty Companies have poor customer ratings.
    Posted on 2013-03-16 09:37:18

    Home warranty companies are not darlings to home owners. Many realators offer Home warranty as a lure to closing home purchases but beware; these companies not bare any responsibility for your home or appliance defects and have the power to choose the covered components they care to accept. Below is a link to compliants filed around the country regarding Home Warranty concerns.
    Off course the Warranty Companies are not at fault for every complaint. But the industry is plagued with bad reputation. I understand the high rate of consumer dissatisfaction due to the following observations:
    The Warranty company sells the home owner a maintenance contract without inspecting the home and appliances.
    1. The Warranty company depends on repair personnel competing heavily with the prices of other contractors for service jobs.
    2. Warranty companie rate service contractors by cost.
    3. Warranty companies determine the time required to complete repairs and structure their pay accordingly.
    4. Home Warranty compaines discourage replacement to favor repairs.
    5. Home Warranty companies favor after market components instead of manufacturers replacements.
    6. Home warranty companies pay well below market costs to contractors.
    7. Many home warranty companies delay payments to contractors 30 to 45 days after the service is complete.
    Summary: Home Warranty companies nickle and dime both the customer and the contractor. The sad thing is these companies are located out of State or far from the reach of the customers. Hostilities from affected customers are borne by the service provider who has spent is resources to aid the home owner not knowing when or if he or she will be paid.
    Be sure to accertain service providers are licensed by your State and are members of a monitoring institution like Better Business Bureau. You can full around with refering companies at your peril. In Texas I depend on TDLR and BBB in my city only for company references. Some companies go to BBB outside the areas where they conduct business. This should be a red flag to beware.

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    The Sour Sop fruit is a true marvel of a fruit

    The sour sop fruit can be found in Dominica the most tropical Island on earth. The Island grows a wide variety of fruit plants that have been use for food and medicine. The leaves of the Sour Sop plant has been used to treat the common cold and other respiratory related illnesses. The fruit is used to make the most refreshing drink that I have ever tasted. As a boy we simply climed the tree and pick the fruit. Was was interesting is the number of spices that competed for the fruit.
    One has to compete with tree lizards, birds, rodents and off course people for this dear fruit and
    very often there was a sharing experience. I have always had a facination with the plant and its associated health effects. My day would rub off the prickle like skin that offered protection to the fruit. The prickle like skin was harmless and could not pierce the softest of membrane, I had no idea what role it played.

    A drink made from sour sop extract can be found at some restaurants including Caribbean restaurants.

    Further information regarding the fruit is listed below. I was facinated to find this post on face book.

    Medicinal Benefits of Soursop (Guanabana)

    Origin: Tropical America 

    Family: Annonaceae 

    Botanical Name: Annona muricata

    Varieties: about nine, differing in shape,
    texture in flavors 

    Season: almost all the year round 

    Tree: height; up to 10 m

    Fruit: length:12 - 24 cm; weight: 400 - 800


    Soursop is a fruit that has the most delectable flavor. The soursop is a large fruit of a small, fast-
    growing tree. The fruit is picked from the tree before it has fully ripened as it will be badly bruised if
    allowed to ripen and fall. The fruit is mature and is ready for eating when it feels slightly soft and is
    light green externally. The skin is thin and is covered with conical nibs. The white, pulpy flesh, which
    contains juice, is peppered with small shiny, black inedible seeds, and has a pleasant, sweet-acidic
    taste. As it is rather fibrous, its squeezed juice makes a better choice, and has, in fact become more
    popular than the fresh fruit as such. Soursop has few seedless varieties, but they are rare, and tend
    to have fibrous flesh.
    Medicinal Benefits: Soursop is not only a delicious and healthy fruit but it is use medicinally to treat
    illness ranging from stomach ailments to worms.

    The seeds, which have emetic properties, can be used in the treatment of vomiting.

    The leaf decoction is effective for head lice and bedbugs. 

    The crushed fresh leaves can be applied on skin eruptions to promote healing. 

    The juice of the fruit can be taken orally as a remedy for urethritis, haematuria and liver

    The juice when taken when fasting, it is believed to relieve liver ailments and leprosy. 

    To speed the healing of wounds, the flesh of the soursop is applied as a poultice unchanged for
    3 days. 

    A decoction of the young shoots or leaves is regarded as a remedy for gall bladder trouble, as
    well as coughs, catarrh, diarrhea, dysentery, fever and indigestion. 

    Mashed leaves are used as a poultice to alleviate eczema and other skin problems and

    The root bark is use as an antidote for poisoning. 

    Soursop flowers are believed to alleviate catarrh. 

    Decoction of leaves used as compresses for inflammation and swollen feet.
    Nutrient Value per 100 grams servings:

    Vitamin: C 20.6

    Calcium: 14

    Iron: 0.6

    Calories: 66

    Dietary Fiber: 3.3g

    Protein: 1g

    Cholesterol: 0mg

    Sodium: 14mg

    Sugars: 13.54g

    Total Carbohydrate: 16.84g

    Total Fat: 0.3g

    Saturated Fat: 0.05g

    Monounsaturated Fat: 0.09g

    Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.06g 


    Culinary uses: eaten fresh as fruit; made into cakes, ice cream, preserved, beverages and for
    flavoring. The young soursop, where the seeds are still soft, is used as a vegetable. The fermented
    fruit is also use to make an apple cider-like drink.

    There is an unforgotten experience associated with eating this fruit in its natural state.

    Friday, March 1, 2013


    Posted on 2013-03-01 12:52:44


      When an HVAC company provides services to consumers they are designed to provide not only comfort but protection and safety. Integrity and honesty should go hand-in-hand, and must be maintained at all times. The Air Conditioning and Heating service and installation industry is suffered with a bad reputation because, .unfortunately, too many of our colleagues are dishonest…plain and simple.
    2. The consumer, in an effort to protect themselves, has become skeptical, and often with good reason. We’re trusted with the comfort of consumers and safety of home and business owners.
      Are we all entitled to make a profit in business? Absolutely!
      Are we justified in charging for our expertise? No doubt!
      But, must we apply integrity and honesty? No question!
      Are you guaranteed to make profit on each service call? Get real!
      The reality…to take money to which you are not entitled….well, it’s just plain wrong!
    3. Expertise, integrity and professionalism have always, and continue to be, the cornerstone of our company. We feel that a moral barometer must be the underlying foundation that supports every decision and act of service. It’s how we do business…and we’d love to see our colleagues adopt the same policy, too.
    4. Sometimes the ‘right’ repair…is ‘NO REPAIR’!
      Come on guys!
      1. says:

    Great Post Bonnie.
  • says:
    Right on Bobby, if you need a great, service manager give me a ring 305-854-8103. If you need to train your service tech I have a very good tutorial in video-DVD format that they can use to teach fundamentals of troubleshooting to themselves.
    1. says:
    2. Unfortunately, I see this problem too often as I travel the country. I agree with Bobby 100%; Present solutions to the problem and make professional recommendations. Empower the consumer to make buying decisions based on our professional advice. Good Work Bobby. This can definitely be good training material.
      1. says:
  • Not all professional advice is true,It is sometimes a show in order to get the work.I see alot of contractors,project managers etc that that present themselves as professionals,but are full of all boils down to a person integrity,honesty,and conscience. Honesty,integrity,come 1st, the dollars will follow on its own.
        1. says:
        2. Bobby thanks for taking on the challenge of doing these types of sting operations. I believe all contractors should work with their state and local media and cities on any type of sting that would be helpfull in raising the bar of our industry.
        3. As we have all said in the past ” Raising the water level in the lake will raise all boats” and if we don’t continue to have “The Real HVACR Industry Stand Up” and be recgonized, these types of contractors will continue to pull the good ones down.
        4. Thanks to ACCA and Pauls leadership in making ACCA the Real Thing that can combat and work with these events to show the customers there are REAL PROFESSIONALS in the HVACR business.

          1. says:
        Thanks Larry for weighing in on this issue.
        1. says:
        2. I wonder if the Today show crew ONLY called out 6 contractors… or if they called 20 or 25 and only aired the worst??? Is there any way to confirm this?
          1. says:
      • John:
        There were only six contractors at the home. They all found the problem within 5-10 minutes and then all went on to tell the homeowner that she required additional unnecessary repairs.
            1. says:
            2. Nice job Bobby. I remember doing a few of these stories over the years and am well aware of the ‘cutting room floor.’ It’s not about doing the right thing always — it’s about the ratings. At least NBC listed more good info on their website. Keep up the good fight my friends!
              1. says:
          • Bobby:
            Great job!
                1. says:
                2. Bobby,
                  As hard as it was to participate, it was by far the right thing to do. Every industry has its dark side, it’s our job to be that bright light of what is good. You clearly showed the correct work path for the consumer and by doing so represented us all at the highest level.
                  Blue Skies Always,
                  Don Millard
                  Bel Red Energy Solutions
                  1. says:
              • Don,
                You’re right – it was not an easy decision. Thanks for recognizaing it was the right thing to do.
                    1. says:
                    2. Bobby, I see what you did not as a choice but as a duty that we all have when presented with the opportunity.
                    3. Manny Chaves
                      Chaves Heating&Air Conditioning, Inc
                      Hudson, MA
                      1. says:
                  • Manny,
                    That really sums it up best! Thanks so much for letting others know that you see it the same way I did.
                        1. says:
                        2. Thank you for helping in this matter. Personaly to many licensed and unlicensed contractors have technitions that are commision based which is in my opinion is one of the two roots of the problem with the second being continueing education. I repair too many units that have been condemed by others. All contractors should test there own technitions and provide training. If you pay more for preformance rather than commision for sales it would discourage this kind of issues. Have a great day!
                          1. says:
                        I have looked at the Performance Pay system and have rejected it. My techs are trained, again and again to accurately diagnose problems and present solutions to clients. Sometimes, when the equipment is old or at or near the end of its useful life cycle, we offer replacement as an option. But we only condemn the dead, not the living.
                        As to why the producers of the TV segment only had losers- that is because losers were their target. To have 10 technicians show up and correctly diagnose and repair the systems would not have made for exciting TV. I believe they should have had at least honorable contractor in their segment. But that’s me.
                        1. says:
                          Seems to me we had the same situation about 10 years ago when I still worked at headquarters. In this case, they showed bad techs venting refrigerant which the home owner paid for. Having a background in journalism, I heartily endorse ACCA’s and Bobby’s actions. You lose a lot by turning your back on a media invitation, but at least gain a fighting chance if you cooperate. I wish we had more ACCA residential contractors in Colorado Springs. You just go on reputation. We’ve already changed once. And, you would think they never heard of a service contract. As others have said, good job Bobby.
                        2. says:
                          Great Job Bob! Unfortunately it is easy to find these guys and all one has to do is look at the yellow pages. This all to well why the industry need to better support NATE!
                        3. says:
                          As usual the bad apples spoil it for the rest. How about (especially in NYC),the dept of Consumer Affairs should required all techs pass a wtritten and practical test (in english) to see if they are qualified to perform this type of work.Also,lets not talk about the consumer (most of them) who want to just lowball us on repairs&installation work,or who refuse to pay for a second service call because on the 1st service call you did not change the 10 year old rusted,oozing capacitor,or slightly burned contactor (points) to prevent a future breakdown.As they all say (the consumer) “oh you were here thr 1st time,why didnt you mention it,(no ,we did you just dont want to pay for something that is working.I started in this business when i was 12,,with 37yrs experience,owning my own co for 24yrs,this will never is all about the individuals integrity,honesty.They will not last long in this or any kind of work,unfortunatly,consumers will get burned,but the honest will thrive.
                          TDLR and ACCA have done a lot of work geared to improving the quality of work delivered by HVAC contractors. These efforts are benifiting consumers of HVAC products and servicec.