Homeowner’s Mid-January Crisis Resolved by New Jersey Contractor
Surprisingly warm temperatures greeted residents of Mid-Atlantic states In the middle of January. For people living in the area who typically face freezing temperatures, severe nor’easter snowstorms, and perilous ice storms, temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to low-40s without precipitation was almost a best-case scenario for the residents’ safety – and thermal comfort.
Despite the mild atmospheric conditions that occurred last January, homeowners who have a malfunctioning boiler, even in tranquil weather, may unexpectedly find themselves in a catastrophe at home. This was the situation a homeowner from New Jersey faced when the heating unit of a century-old home stopped working, causing the residents to shiver as evening temperatures approached the freezing point.
Ezzy Travis, a plumbing and heating contractor and solo proprietor of E. Travis Mechanical installed a HTP ELU 150K BTU boiler to substitute the feeble and inefficient one. Four days without heat or water might not seem like a lot, but can seem like an eternity for people living in the house.
“The boiler was only about 12 years old, but was not properly serviced,’’ Travis said. “With the amount of time it would’ve required to repair the boiler, it didn’t make sense. It also wasn’t piped 100 percent correctly.”
A Fresh Start
Prior to arriving at the home in the New Jersey neighborhood of Glen Rock, Travis had already fixed other home heating emergencies. Upon assessing the situation, he recognized the project required extensive repairs, rather than a short-term solution.
“A wholesaler referred this project to me,’’ Travis said. “I knew right away we’d have to replace the boiler and all the piping. Things weren’t done 100 percent correctly, and I have a standard way of doing things. All the piping in the mechanical room and the boiler had to be ripped out. The only thing that was salvageable was the indirect tank. It had been installed in August, so there was no reason to rip it out.”
Constructed in 1916, the traditional house features four bedrooms and three baths, in a 3,200 square feet area. Despite the house being quite expansive, the mechanical room’s workspace did not have the same luxury.
“That was probably the biggest challenge we faced,’’ he said. “It wasn’t a deep mechanical room. There just wasn’t a lot of room for two of us. I needed another set of hands for this one. We had to ask each other to move out of the way when we had to move within the room. It was a pretty tight squeeze with some significant space constraints.”
Contractors often encounter working areas that are cramped like a sardine can. “It’s weird because many times when you need space, you don’t have it,’’ Travis said. “Other times we’ll install something that is relatively small, and we have all the space in the world. A lot of my jobs are in areas where everybody wants to utilize every square inch of the basement. I’ll have to spend time putting down protective material for the carpet and wall, which makes it take longer. I don’t want to do any damage to the house.”
Navigating tight staircases with burdensome boilers is a risk that contractors frequently experience. When setting up the new boiler to replace the faulty one, Travis and his helper maneuvered carefully as they removed the old unit and installed the new one.
Turning Up the Heat
Finding the appropriate boiler is key for a project in an old home with many rooms and floors. Contractors must consider that houses with compromised insulation and large square feet make the selection even more important.
“I had to factor in the heat loss of the house,’’ Travis said. “In this part of New Jersey, we see a lot of houses like that. In a hydronic system, you need to do thorough heat loss analysis. I wanted to make sure that the unit we installed was able to overcome any heat loss within the house.”
The high BTU output the HTP boiler provides was the deciding factor in Travis’ choice. “I also liked the fact that it had a 11:1 turndown ratio,’’ Travis said. “I like the simplicity of it. It’s not a complicated boiler. Because of the age of the house, I was also concerned about heat loss. I wanted to make sure we had enough BTUs to heat the entire house.”
In nearly all residential heating systems, the 11:1 ratio is a significant factor to consider. Whenever a boiler or burner finishes a cycle, it uses a substantial amount of energy. Reducing the amount of complete on and off cycles by utilizing a higher turndown ratio can minimize inefficiencies, resulting in lower maintenance costs. Additionally, high turndown burners are capable of responding more rapidly to changes in demand.
The HTP units – offered in sizes from 85K BTU input and all the way up to 199K BTU input – feature high-quality stainless-steel heat exchangers that guarantees the highest quality at the boiler’s core with corrosion resistance. The amplification in water flow provided by the heat exchanger results in increased turbulence that helps scrub the internal walls, thus reducing the accumulation of hazardous deposits.
“I liked the simplicity of this boiler,’’ Travis said. “There are not a lot of moving parts and it’s pretty uncomplicated.”
With the help of HTP link technology, the HTP ELU boiler offers a Wi-Fi solution for remote observation and alerts staff in the instance of a system fault. The boiler’s settings can also be conveniently adjusted on location without getting up from the chair.
During his 20-plus years in the industry, Travis has suggested HTP units for several projects. “I like their efficiency, durability and simplicity,’’ he said. “I get a lot of support when I’m installing them. They’ve been a good product for me over the years.”
Despite primarily being a one-man team, Travis takes pride in resolving significant or minor issues for all his clients. “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special,’’ he said. “I’m just doing what I do. Fortunately, we were able to come up with a good solution for this rather quickly. It’s never a good thing for a homeowner to be without heat in the middle of winter.”
Brian Giardina writes on building, construction, engineering and other trade industry topics for publications throughout the United States.