Some years ago when I was just starting out in business, we had a room in our office that just housed the computer mainframes. It was a small room without windows and when everything was running the sound was almost deafening and the heat kept raising. At one point our computers began to fail, and we were told that the reason was that they were becoming too hot. Well back then my company had very little money so we got creative with our solution to the overheating problem. We went out and bought an portable air conditioner. It looked like a robot from a syfy movie and all we had to do was to vent the unit out into the warehouse which was behind the office where the computers were housed. Our landlord was even excited a bit that the unit would help heat the warehouse a bit in the winter. From the day we installed our easy and cheap fix for the computer room, it worked and kept the computers cool all year round. Our electric bill went up some but our computer troubles dropped by 80%. Well that was 20 years ago and now my company has a big computer room that takes up about 1000 square feet. The computers are much smaller and infinitely more powerful than they were back then. Now we have a specialized air conditioning system just for the computer room with excellent air filtration and keeps the room at about 55 degrees and dust free. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that computers still put out a lot of heat and need to be kept cool.
My brother had never been much of a student growing up. My grandmother always said he was street smart but not so much book smart. I headed off to college after high school but my brother decided not to go and took a job at a local factory. He cared more about making money than finding a career that he loved. Fast forward 10 years and I am now an executive at a local bank and my brother is still working at the factory. He gets up goes to work comes home eats and sleeps then repeats. He has been like a robot doing the same thing day in and out. Last Christmas my family had gathered at my grandmothers and my brother and I had not seen each other in almost a year. It was the usual too much to eat and lots of football watching. At one point my grandmother came out of the kitchen and gave a piece of newspaper to my brother. She did not say a word, just handed it to him and went back to the kitchen. My brother studied it for a long time. Then he folded it up and put it in his jeans pocket. Later I asked my grandmother what was in the newspaper she gave my brother. She told me that it was an announcement that a local HVAC company was looking for like-minded workers to begin a career in HVAC. She thought it would be perfect for my brother. And I agreed. I went back to my job and my brother and I did not see each other for a few months. One day he called me and asked if I would come to his graduation. I was stunned. He was graduating from a specialized course for HVAC workers. Of course I went to the graduation. My brother was smiling like I have never seen him smile. He had started on his way to a career that he would love.
Let’s face it! I am not a very technical person. When I grew up we had rotary dial telephones and no such thing as a computer. Technology has grown faster than weeds in my garden. And I have long ago given up trying to keep up with all the latest technical advances. So when my son gave me a smart thermostat for Christmas last year, I was concerned it would never get used as I would not know how to use it. Luckily he offered to install it and show me how to use it. I was a recent albeit late comer to the smartphone fad. So now had part of the knowledge needed to operate a smart thermostat. My son hooked up the new device where our old one had been located. It was beautiful with its blue digital output and very futuristic style. I was totally intimidated by just the look of the thing. My son patiently explained how the new temperature control worked and the advantages of it. I listened quietly pretending to comprehend all that he said when in the back of my mind, I was already saying to myself that I will never use this fancy thing. My son installed on my phone the program needed to operate the thermostat. He showed me how to launch the app and check the temperature setting and change the temperature if I wanted. And then he left, leaving me here with a device I was certain was smarter than I could ever dream of being. I felt like it was taunting me every time I would walk past it. Then in late February we experienced a blizzard in our area. My wife and I were at work when it hit and had to cautiously creep home during the storm. Suddenly, I remembered my smart thermostat and realized I could log in and crank up the heat at home so that it would be very comfortable when we arrived. I was very proud of myself when I successfully changed the temperature of our house..
As my husband and I climbed the corporate ladders to success, we moved from big house to even bigger house to show off our new found social status. My husband was a criminal attorney with his own firm and a reputation of winning cases. I am a pediatric surgeon and head of surgery at the local children’s hospital. We felt like we had “made it.” We had more money than we could spend and were very comfortable. Then one night we had a major scare. On of my husband’s disgruntled clients came to our house and threatened our whole family. Suddenly we didn’t feel safe in our own home. We decided to build a safe room to give all of us a refuge in case of future threats. One of my husband’s concerns in building the safe room was how to maintain the air quality inside the room. He considered just including it on the house’s HVAC system but decided on using a mini split zoned system with a power back up that looked like an outside A/C unit. This was if a perpetrator would cut the power in order to flush us out of the safe room, we would be safe and have a good air quality control. My husband hired a local company who specialized in safe rooms and made them sign an agreement that warned them with fear of lawsuit if they divulged to anyone any information about our safe room. The room was quickly and quietly built in the center of our home so that it would be close to us no matter where we were when danger struck. We have not had any further threats, but at least now we know we have a safe place to hide should we feel threatened.
Last summer my family decided to enjoy our summer vacation by renting a beach house for two weeks. We wanted to enjoy the ocean breezes and walk on the white sand and relax. The house we rented was very nice. It looked just like the pictures on the internet. It had all the amenities one would expect including great ocean views, direct access to the beach, spacious living spaces and clean and crisp bedrooms. The beach house also had a great central air conditioning system. It was great to come in from a day of fun in the sun and enjoy the comfortable cool air inside the house. For a week we relaxed in our little spot of heaven with beautiful weather and indoor A/C for comfort both inside and out. But one morning we awoke to the house feeling warmer than usual. I went to the thermostat to check the settings wondering if one of the kids had changed it. But all I found was the thermostat set correctly and the central air conditioning not functioning. I waited a bit after turning the temperature control off and then on, but nothing happened. I called the manager of the property and reported the outage. I was assured they would get a HVAC repair service out just as soon as possible. We went about our somewhat lazy day enjoying as much of the beach and ocean as possible. About midday I noticed the HVAC van pull into our driveway. I let the repairman into the house and showed him the thermostat and the HVAC room. Within about an hour he had repaired the A/C and the wonderful cool air was streaming from the air vents once again. Our almost perfect vacation was back on track to enjoy sun, ocean and a comfortable home.
Everyone who lives in a house built in the past century should know what a thermostat is by now. There’s plenty of designs, both classic and modern, and even more editions that can be programmed or even controlled from a phone or tablet. As unique as each temperature control unit can be, there is often one feature that few people consider when shopping for a thermostat. That feature would be control over humidity in the house. While thermostats control the temperature of the house, humidistats control the humidity to a degree. This of course requires a device built into the HVAC system that can increase or decrease humidity, but the humidistat can be invaluable for improving a home’s ability to cool off during a hot Summer day, or warm up on a freezing Winter’s morning. Ideally, one would buy a two-in-one device for controlling both the temperature as well as the humidity of the house. Having the thermostat and humidistat combined into a single interface reduces the need for more than one control device, and also allows the system to work more efficiently as one program controls the temperature and humidity. In my case, I have a smart thermostat that I can control from my phone and my computer. It’s invaluable for the really cold mornings, when I first wake up and take a hot shower to warm myself up. Before I hop in the shower, I use my phone to increase both the temperature and the humidity, which allows the house to get warm much faster than if the house were full of dry air. I love living in such a technologically advanced age, but I wonder – in twenty years, what will we have to control the heating and air conditioning in our homes?
When I came home to my wife and saw the sad look in her eyes, my mind raced at the possibilities. Before I could go too far in my head with all the hypotheticals, my wife could tell I was starting to panic. “Baby, it’s not as bad as you think!” she told me, resting her hand on my shoulder. What could it be, then? That’s when my wife led me outside to the compressor unit, which looked as if it somehow caught fire. “The compressor is ruined,” she continued, “and we have to replace that AND the indoor unit.” Now I was starting to panic! Why would we need to replace both pieces of equipment? The indoor air unit worked just fine as far as I knew. That’s when my wife explained how all new heating and air conditioning systems are very particular, and buying a new outdoor unit without replacing the indoor unit meant there would be problems down the road. “Just try to focus on the positive,” my wife said to me, “we’re going to get a completely new heating and air conditioning system out of this whole ordeal!” She was right. Our old air conditioner wasn’t the best at cooling down the house, and the outdoor compressor constantly froze over from working too hard. Shortly after the shock wore off, my wife put me in touch with the HVAC contracting group who originally installed the old HVAC system. When I explained what we needed to have done, the company quoted us on a price that was much more bearable than I expected! Plus, they allowed my wife and I to pay for the entire system installation in monthly installments, so we could easily afford funding the new heating and air conditioning parts. I’m so thankful to have a wife like mine, as she thinks on her feet and never lets the pressure get to her. I’m glad she even thought ahead to locate an HVAC company for me to contact, as I’d have no idea who to call first!
Over the past Summer, I made a point to schedule my routine check-up for my furnace. The Summers around here are very mild, with temperatures rarely surpassing the eighties. Our Winters, however, are brutal! They often last for at least six months of the year, and the temperatures during that time are always below freezing! It’s really something to behold, especially as a southerner who moved far north to escape the Summer heat. Anyhow, my regular HVAC technician was out of the country for a few weeks, which was a real letdown for me. I was glad he was able to enjoy his vacation, but this was the only time I had to schedule this check-up! I knew I needed to find someone to fill his shoes while he was gone, so I called his company and asked if any other HVAC technicians could handle the job. Though I had to leave a voicemail, I received a call-back within ten minutes of leaving the message, and the company representative was happy to connect me to another HVAC specialist within the company. That’s what I love about this company – everyone is incredible as far as professionalism and reputation goes. The guy they sent in place of my usual service technician was polite and friendly, but still worked quickly and efficiently to perform his duties. We had a conversation about his son playing baseball, all while he was carefully testing the burners of my furnace. At one point, he even showed me a few pieces of my heating system that I can easily keep tabs on, and showed me how to safely access them. Once again, the service from this company was superb, and I could rest easy knowing my furnace was ready for the coming Winter. Hopefully my regular HVAC guy doesn’t get jealous of me having one of his coworkers perform his job!
A few weekends ago, I had to drive down to the southern end of the state. Was I going on vacation, or meeting up with some friends to have a weekend of fun and adventure? Nope – I was going to spend all weekend helping my brother in-law move into his new place. Being the strong individual that I am, people often ask me to help them move, and I just can’t seem to say no to them! Anyway, when I arrived to his old apartment, I was disgusted upon entry to the unit. It was at least ninety degrees inside his apartment, and the floors were covered in thick carpet that seemed to soak up the heat. Being in the apartment was exhausting, so I made a point to pack up all the things in his home as quickly as I could. As we moved his things into the moving truck, I asked him why his apartment had no A/C. “Why do you think I’m moving?” he asked. That’s when he told me he’s been without air conditioning for the past month, because his landlord won’t pay to have an HVAC technician repair the A/C unit! How barbaric is that? Thankfully, we were able to get all of his things packed into the truck in an hour’s time, and we blasted the truck’s A/C the whole way across town to his new place. When we brought the first piece of furniture in, we were greeted by an incredible wave of cool, refreshing air at the front door. His new place had excellent air conditioning, as well as an air purifier that was installed by the landlord. The air quality in his new apartment was even better than mine back home! I was happy for my brother in-law, because I sure do believe he’s earned the excellent A/C in his home. I can’t believe he went an entire month without any form of air conditioning!
My wife and I had our first child about three months ago. Our little girl is a cute little chunk of a baby, and she’s our world! As much as we love her, it can be really challenging to retain your patience when dealing with a crying baby. That’s why we’ll lay her down early in the night, and use a baby monitor equipped with two cameras to keep tabs on her as we relax. Though the sound of our air conditioner running in the background can muffler her voice, my wife and I can clearly see if she wakes up. I’ll tell you though; I’m glad I had this baby monitor handy for more than watching the baby! See, we recently took an offer in the local coupon magazine for a free inspection and tune-up of our central heating and air conditioning system at home. My wife and I work of course, so we left a key under the doormat for the service technician when he arrives. Using the handheld device, I watched as the service tech showed up and wandered the house to find the thermostat. For a few minutes, it seemed the technician was just walking in circles as he stared at his phone. Then, I watched as the technician tore my temperature control device off the wall, and cracked it open with one of his tools! I was in shock – is this why the company put coupons in the paper, just so their technicians can create HVAC issues to fix at people’s homes? The most shocking part of it all was that the HVAC technician proceeded to call me. When I answered, he told me my thermostat was broken and I would need to buy a new one. “I can get you one today, but it’s not going to be cheap” he said, staring at my broken temperature control device on the floor. I was furious! Needless to say, I had some words with his boss, and that technician has never been heard from again. The company provided a brand new thermostat for me, and vowed to ensure I received the best service from their most skilled professionals for the rest of the year.