"No technician should leave home without it. My lead technician
read it once and immediately began to understand what it was
that he was doing in the field of controls. It's a great confidence
builder. It can open the eyes of some of the most experienced
--Mark Eatherton, Contractor and Industry Educator
Here you will find a wealth
of information on a wide variety of subjects.
These articles originally appeared in Plumbing
& Mechanical Magazine from January,
2003 through 2007.
Please feel free to contact Carol if you have any questions or comments on any of the articles, or if you have a suggestion on a topic you want to know more about.
Also see Our Online Toolbox Section for some great resources designed to help you in your business.
Thermostat Is Just A Switch
||How can a simple thing be complicated? Easy. So far in this column you've read that you -- not an electrician -- should be doing your controls wiring. I have written about the fact that a control circuit is a simple thing. It is a "circle" of at least one of each of these three things: power supply, switch and load.|
||It’s still a good idea to know how to tune
an anticipator. Anticipation is such an interesting word. It
has an implication of excitement, possibility, maybe even thrills.
|Aquastats||A quick definition of aquastats and their
specifications.It's no mystery that an aquastat is a control
that goes with a boiler. If you don't know much more about it
than that, though, you have a lot of company. There seems to
be confusion about exactly what an aquastat does, and especially
about finding a replacement when one fails.
||Electronics let us do things that would
otherwise be impossible.Joe hates electronics. “Gol’dern new
stuff. How can you fix it if you can’t see how it works?”
||Whether for safety or operation, knowing
when to ground is essential. Wha'd ya mean?" says Bubba
the plumber-recently-turned-heating-tech. "How come you're
tellin' me I gotta ground that boiler ignition? I know better
- my power saw works just fine without a ground, and it's bigger!"
To Use A Troubleshooting Chart
||Troubleshooting charts help you start at the beginning and not skip steps, the troubleshooting chart. Eyes glaze over.|
It Spare Parts Or Junk?
||Rule of thumb: If you can’t find it in
15 minutes, it’s junk. I was traveling with Steve, a plumbing
distributor rep. As we pulled into the yard of Aesop’s Plumbing
and Heating, there was an all-too-common view — junk everywhere.
||It’s always great when there are more pictures than words, right? Except when those pictures are wiring diagrams. Do you know how to read a wiring diagram? If you don’t, you have a lot of company. Most people don’t — even people in the heating business.|
||Don’t fear the meter — it’s an essential tool. A multimeter is an essential tool for working with controls. It’s as expected for a professional heating guy to have a meter as it is for a doctor to have a stethoscope. Digital electronic meters are very different from the old-fashioned analog items that were expensive, fragile and hard to read.|
||Comfort, not survival of the human race, is the purpose of a heating system.Is an electronic thermostat appropriate for hydronic heating? How about for in-floor heating? Can you use a setback thermostat for hydronic or in-floor heating?|
||You could replace a thermostat with a light switch, and the heating equipment would never know the difference. One day long ago, when I was newer in this industry than I am now, I was sitting in the well-appointed office of a large homebuilder. I was there because the heating contractor had told me that the reason he was putting in the cheapest (in both meanings of the word) thermostat was because the builder told him to.|
Is Just Switches
||How can a simple thing be complicated?
Easy.So far in this column you've read that you -- not an electrician
-- should be doing your controls wiring. I have written about
the fact that a control circuit is a simple thing. It is a "circle"
of at least one of each of these three things: power supply,
switch and load.
With a control circuit we're trying to make things go on and off at the right times. That's done with switches.
||When your customers shop retail, think of it as a lead to long-term service. The subject at the distributor counter today is “contractor stuff” being sold at retail home handyman stores. Once again, perhaps as always, passions are hot. Water heaters and thermostats have been there for a many years, but each person makes his own discovery in his own time.|
Back Row Boys
||Let’s give a hand to the hands-on people this industry relies on. There’s a special kind of guy who comes into a classroom and heads right for the back row.|
New Market For Solar
||Solar heating is more similar than different
from what we already do with hydronics.Solar. Solar heating.
For some folks those are political fightin’ words. For others
it’s hope for the future. Those of us who were around in the
late-1970s and into the 1980s can remember solar as an energy
laughingstock. Now it’s once again becoming an exciting idea.
||When things fit together, why do they sometimes
leak? How much have you thought about the threads on the controls
you work with? I was in a test lab recently, and the engineer,
Joe Beagen, was pointing out that there are NPT threads on an
“Wait a minute,” I said to Joe. “Say that again.”
Adults & Technicians
||Adults learn differently. Adjust your training
accordingly. We're all teachers at one time or another, whether
we get in front of a class or not. Every owner, service manager
and senior technician has to be a trainer. And, oh boy, it's
not an easy job!
With Wyoming Jack
||Learning the basics of electricity through
everyday items.A couple times in the last year, a neighborhood
kid has come to my door looking for work.
“Er, uh, hi. My name’s Sam,” he said, looking at his over-sized shoes. “If you need someone to, er, do your yard work, I can do it.”
||Mercury bulb thermostats have been ‘mandatory equipment’ for decades. Chances are, however, you’ll never miss them now. There’s lots of lamenting that the age of mercury thermostats is coming to an end. But I think it’s a positive step forward with not much lost at all. Mercury-free models look the same on the outside so you won’t get customer complaints.|
Are The Newbies?
||Continued education is the key to staying in the industry.There’s no debate about it — there is a shortage of new guys in our industry. We like to grumble and blame it on the new generation: “Those kids just don’t like to work. They just don’t have the skills.”|
Cords And Cables
||Learning the basics of
electricity through everyday items.A couple times in the last
year, a neighborhood kid has come to my door looking for work.
|S8610 Gas Ignition Module
|© 2018 Carol Fey
& Associates, Inc. / P.I.G. Press • 759 E. Phillips Dr. S., Littleton, CO. 80122
303-795-9350 • email@example.com