Backfield In Motion

Nothing like a little late 60′s soul to help you get your groove on…

Mel & Tim from ’69 with a cautionary tale of rule breaking and flying penalty flags.

See if that doesn’t stick in your head the rest of the day…

A couple weeks back (click here) we talked about what would happen if you used a European-style steep curve 3-speed pump on a zone valve job.  A low-flow, high-head, steep curve pump will create greater and greater pressure differentials as zone valves close, and the end result – more often than not – are noisy, banging zone valves.

Zone valves don’t like closing against the kinds of pressure differentials created by your typical Grundfos 15-58 or Taco 0015 3-speed.  You can’t argue with physics.

Mel and Tim would call that “offsides and holding…

Assuming neither you nor your customer wants to live with banging zone valves, how do you quiet them down?

Hmmm mmmm hmmm…..


Yes, you in the back…

You must add a pressure differential bypass valve, you say?

Well, that’s one way of dealing with the problem.

Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive, most difficult and least effective way of dealing with the problem.

“But all the really smart guys in the industry say you need to have them…”

No, you don’t.

Let’s call a pressure differential bypass valve (PDBV) what it really is – it’s a band-aid for a self-inflicted wound – the wound of using the wrong pump for the zone valve job in the first place.  As we’ve stated many times here, flat curve pumps and zone valves go together like football and cheerleaders – it’s what flat curve pumps were made for.

A PDBV is a spring-loaded, pressure activated valve that allows excess pressure differential created by a circulator to bypass the system, thus quieting down banging circulators.

Essentially, all a PDBV does is turn a steep curve European-style pump into a flat curve American-style pump.  

All you need to do to is purchase and install the valve itself, plus all the associated piping, and then figure out how to set the valve so it does what you want, while trying to decipher instructions badly translated from German or Danish.

All for a freaking band-aid.

Seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

Or, you could simply use a flat curve American-style circulator in the first place.

As chronicled here, here, here and here, flat curve circulators such as the Taco 007 are designed for the types of zone valve jobs (and zone pumping jobs) fairly common here in the US.  Steep curve pumps, such as the Grundfos 15-58, the Taco 0015 and other 3-speed circulators, are designed for traditional European-style systems: small PEX pipe, large designed-for system Delta-T’s (30* or more) and panel radiators with thermostatic radiator valves.

I tend to cringe (or worse) when PDBV’s are touted as “necessary, standard equipment” on zone valve jobs, because “with those high head pumps, the zone valves will bang.  This is what you have to do to keep ‘em from banging.”

That’s like saying “here – buy this extra sharp knife set from me and use them to learn how to juggle.  Oh, and you’re gonna need to buy these band-aids from me, too.  You might bleed a little…”

Hydronics really is quite simple when you look at it through the proper lens.  When you use the wrong (low-flow, high-head, steep curve) pump with zone valves, the zone valves are most likely going to bang.  When you use the right (high-flow, low-head, flat curve) pump with zone valves, they won’t.

You can leave the band-aids to the knife jugglers.

Want some more early 70′s soul?  Get yer funk on with the Chairmen of The Board…

“Give me just a little more time…” 



Batter Up!

If you like baseball history, you’ll love this tune…

That’s “Pastime” by The Baseball Project, a tune chockfull of baseball trivia (stand and be counted if you know what “two round-trippers and a no-hitter, that’s Rick Wise” means!).

And it’s a perfect song with which to celebrate Opening Day, 2014.

Taco’s “spring training” season has been on-going since late January.  So far this year we’ve put on nearly a dozen full-day training programs across the country, with more than 400 participants in areas such as Massachusetts, Northern Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Seattle and Colorado.

But today is Opening Day for more than just baseball.

Regular season training for Taco gets underway in earnest this week, with a full-day program in beautiful Thunder Bay, Ontario.  After that you’ll have a slew of training opportunities both in the field and at the Taco factory in Cranston, RI.

Starting next week and running through June will be full-day “American Hydronics Revolution” classes at the factory, hosted by the one-and-only Dave Holdorf.  These classes are region specific, so if you’re in New England, New Jersey, upstate New York, Long Island, Pennsylvania or Canada, contact your local wholesaler or Taco manufacturer’s representative to get signed up.

Also starting next week is our flagship factory training program, “Residential Hydronics; Advanced Soup to Variable Speed Nuts.”  This two-day program is the most complete factory training program in the industry, covering everything from heat loss and boiler selection to pump selection, zoning options and controls wiring.  The first program – April 10-11 – is already sold out, as are the June 12-13 and  July 31-Aug 1 classes.

We still have openings for our May 8-9 class, as well as our Fall dates (Sept 18-19 and Oct 23-24).  These programs include 2 days of training, hands-on controls wiring opportunities, meals, ground transportation, two nights hotel and a fun night out on the town for $299.  All you have to do is get yourself to Rhode Island – we’ll take care of the rest!  Click here for more details and to register online.

In addition, we have lots of field training opportunities coming up this spring.  If you’re in Ontario (Toronto or Thunder Bay), Alaska (Fairbanks or Anchorage), Saskatchewan (Regina or Saskatoon), Spokane, Colorado (Denver or Montrose) or elsewhere, we most likely will have something in your vicinity.  Check with your local Taco rep to see what’s going on, or just comment here and we’ll see if we can hook you up.

I understand there’s no such thing as a “good time” to go to training. We’re all busy and a day spent at a training class is a day not spent generating income. But as on old boss once told me, “don’t be so busy chopping wood that you forget to sharpen your axe.”

But since you have lots of wood to chop, whatever training classes you choose to attend better be more than worthwhile.  As a simple rule, you should:

- Avoid product-specific training classes.  These are usually thinly-disguised sales pitches and tend to be a waste of your time.

- Look for “application-based” classes that stress hydronics fundamentals and info you can use regardless of which product you choose.

- Make a “learning plan,” meaning don’t just show up hoping to “learn something.”  Plan ahead and take control of your learning – have 2 or 3 specific things you’d like to learn when attending a class.

- Show up early, sit up front, turn the cell phone off, ask questions, take lots of notes and then study your notes when you get home.  This guarantees you’ll be able to use the stuff you learn, and make the information part of your skill set.

And with that, it’s now time to….


And just a little reminder of how last year ended…

“I love that dirty water….”


Pump It Up

Declan P. McManus would have made a heck of a circulator salesman…

Could Elvis have possibly been writing about pump curves?

“Turn it down a little bit
or turn it down flat.
Pump it up when you don’t really need it.
Pump it up until you can feel it.”

I’d say it’s pretty clear that he was.

In light of our last few blog posts, I’d like to pose a question:

Which is the “stronger” circulator – a high-head, steep curve pump, or a low-head, flat-curve pump?

Answer: It depends on how you keep score.

European style steep-curve pumps provide higher head pressure, but lower flow rates.  American style flat-curve circulators prover higher flow rates, but lower head pressure.

Is higher head pressure “better?” Not if you don’t really need it.

Is a higher flow rate better? Not if you can’t feel it.

The “promise” of the 3-speed circulator is that it’s the one circulator that can do everything.  It’s supposed to make circulator selection easy and it’s supposed to replace 7 or 8 different models with just one.

And you know what?  On paper, it does just that.

On paper, the performance curves of the most common 3-speed circulators out there, the Grundfos 15-58 or the Taco 0015 (both steep-curve pumps), do cover nearly all the flow-and-head performance requirements you’re likely to encounter in residential hydronics.

On paper.

Problem is, we don’t install circulators on paper.

We install them on actual heating systems, in people’s basements.

As we’ve shown in recent blogs (click here, here, here and here to review), installing a European style steep-curve pump on a typical zone valve job would “work,” but not without noise issues – banging zone valves and possible velocity noise. And if programmed in “no call-back” mode (AKA – Speed 3), you also have tiny system Delta-T’s, which promotes boiler short-cycling, which reduces system-wide economy of operation.

But no one will be cold.

But they will have system that’s noisy and nowhere near as efficient as promised.

By the same token, installing a flat curve pump, such as a Taco 007, in a panel radiator/TRV job may present other issues.  If there’s more head loss in the piping system than the pump head can overcome, the house may not be able to heat when it’s really cold outside.

But the system will be quiet.

Install either pump as a zone pump and it’ll work. You may very likely have noise problems with the 3-speed pump in “no call-back” mode, but no one will freeze to death.

Armed with this info, you have  a couple of fixed speed options.

#1. Always use a 3-speed high-head, low-flow, steep-curve pump – even on zone valve jobs – and figure out how to deal with the noise issues (more on this later this week).  You can’t do anything about the shrinking Delta-T.

#2. Use a 3-speed, high-head, steep-curve pump where it makes sense (panel radiator jobs, zone pumping), and use a flat-curve pump where it makes sense (zone valve jobs, zone pumping).

And if you are in an emergency situation (Friday afternoon, middle of winter, dead pump), you’ll most likely wind up using whatever pump you have on the truck.  That’s fair enough, but what kind of pump should you keep on the truck?

I would think it would depend on what kinds of systems you normally service.

More to come, so in the meantime, you better listen to the radio…

“It’s a sound salvation….”


Shake Your Tree

Some people even call him Maurice

‘Cause he speaks of the pompatus of love.

What in the name of Steve Miller is a “pompatus?”

So we’ve discussed why European-designed circulators have steep pump curves (click here), and why American-desiged circulators have flat curves (click here).  The performance curves for both circulators are specifically engineered for, and fit perfectly, the types of systems traditionally installed on each continent.

In Europe, that would be a parallel-piped panel radiator system with thermostatic radiator valves. This type of system requires a low-flow, high-head, steep curve pump.

In North America, it started with the old  venturi-tee or two-pipe systems, which morphed into series loop systems with fin-tube baseboard. These systems require high-flow, low-head, flat curve pumps.

But what would happen if we pulled the old switcharoo?


First, let’s look at what would happen with a flat curve circulator, like a Taco 007, installed in a typical European system:

Under design conditions, the system requires 10 GPM at 12′ of head.  Pretty clear the 007′s performance curve won’t be able to deliver.

As you know, systems always operate where the system curve intersects the pump curve.  For much of the heating season, this setup should work just fine.  However, as it gets colder out, the 007 would not be able to overcome the head loss of the piping system in order to deliver the required flow.

Two things would happen.

First – the measured supply and return Delta-T would be far greater than design – a sure sign of  underpumping.

And second – some rooms will be warm, while most others will be cold.  And you’ll have an unhappy customer.

Now, what would happen if you installed a steep curve pump in a typical American system?  We’ve touched on this before (click here, here and here for the full story), but here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

Systems always run where the system curve intersects the pump curve.  When using a “European” style pump, the system curve “backs up” the pump curve as zone valves close.  Each time another zone valve closes, the zone valve has to close against a higher and higher pressure differential, while the circulator delivers more flow than is required.

Is this a problem?  Depends on how you define “problem.”

If you define “problem” only as someone calling you on the phone screaming they don’t have heat, then you probably won’t have a problem.

You’ve met the bare minimum requirement for a passing grade.

You’ve earned a D-.

If you have a broader definition of “problem” – one that includes banging zone valves, incessant boiler short cycling, premature component failure and systems that aren’t nearly as economic to operate as promised or expected, then you have some things to think about.

A European style low-flow, high-head, steep curve circulator installed in a typical zone valve application can cause all of these problems.  An American-style high-flow, low-head, flat curve circulator won’t.

Because this is the type of application it was designed for.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

We’ll examine this dynamic in greater detail, as well as how each circulator performs when used as a zone pump.

Gotta say Steve Miller’s tunes pre-Joker were, by and large, awesome!

“Winter’s people watching…”  

Livin’ in the USA

Some people call him the Space Cowboy, some call him the Gangster of Love. But Steve Miller’s always lived in the USA…

Great rocker from – are you ready – 1968!

So far this month, we’ve learned why Europeans primarily install panel radiator systems with TRV’s (click here to review) and, as a result, why European-designed circulators typically have low-flow, high-head, steep performance curves (click here to review).

Quite simply, the most practical installation method bred a circulator designed to match the system requirements.

Why, then, is the classic “American” style pump curve a high flow, low head, flat curve?

Same reason.

In older cities, the next-to” communities started growing in the mid-to-late 1800′s due to new transportation technology – electric street cars and that new-fangled “horseless carriage” made it easy to live out there and travel into the city to earn your daily bread.  If you’ve ever worked in any of those older homes you’ve seen amazing old heating systems, mostly  steam or converted gravity systems.

These home had lots of heat loss (therefore lots of flow) and big pipe (therefore very little head loss).  Fast forward into the 30′s and what homes that were being built during the depression (with enticements from the newly formed FHA) had either 2-pipe hydronic systems or venturi-tee systems.

Reading through the B&G Hydronics Design Handbook published in 1940 is fascinating – a design example shows a venturi-tee system requiring 12.5 GPM (120,000 BTUH, using their math) with an estimated 4′ of head.

High flow, low head.

Look and compare:


After WWII, VA loans made buying a home in the suburbs less expensive than renting an apartment in the city.  And new tax laws allowed homeowners to, for the first time, deduct mortgage interest from their taxes.  It was a perfect storm for suburbia to explode.


And explode it did.

You all know the story of Levittown, but similar communities were sprouting all over the country. And many of those homes had hot water heat with venturi-tee systems or two-pipe systems with cast iron baseboard, radiant floor heat or another new-fangled development: fin-tube baseboard zoned by circulator or zone valve.

These homes shared relatively speaking high heat loads, and since the design standard of the day was a 20Delta-T, the required flow rates were high.  But since the pipe was large (¾ or 1″ copper or black iron), the head losses were fairly low. Here’s an example:

100,000 BTUH = 10 GPM

Biggest zone = 40,000 BTUH or 4 GPM

Length of biggest zone: 120 feet

The head loss of  ¾” L tubing (most common back then) at 4 GPM is .04′ of head per foot of pipe.  If the adjusted length (taking into account fittings, valves, etc) of that longest loop is 160 feet, then the overall head loss would be:

160 feet × .04′ of head per foot of pipe = 6.4′ of head.

So if this were a zone valve job, we’d need a circulator capable of 10 GPM at 6.4′ of head.

Again, ideal for a high flow, low head, flat curve circulator, no?

Bottom line: both in North American and in Europe, circulators were developed to work in the systems most commonly installed in those markets.  There’s nothing inherently better about a high head circulator or a low head circulator.

The best circulator is the one that fits the job you’re working on.

As we  continue this series, we’ll discuss what can happen when you stick the proverbial square peg into a round hole.

Gotta hand it to ole Stevie — he’s an American Original…

And just to make you feel old, Steve just turned 70 last fall.

“Same old story with a new set of words…”

Just Because…

Don’t poke the mask off the ole’ Lone Ranger…

And you don’t mess around with Jim.  Croce, that is.  Miss this dude…

Ever wonder why pump curves look the way they do?  I mean, why is a 007 curve “flat” while the curves of a 0015 3-speed, or a Grunfos 15-58 3-speed are “steep?”

Well, it’s not “just because.”

In the pump world, a high-flow, low-head flat curve is often called an “American” pump curve, while a low-flow, high head steep curve is referred to as a “European” curve.


It has to do with the types of systems those circulators were designed for.

Last time we discussed how the typical European hydronic system – panel radiators, TRV’s and home-run piping – became the typical European system: it was the easiest, most convenient and least expensive system to retrofit into millions of old, existing homes that had no central heating.

And these old, pre-1960 structures weren’t very well insulated and leaked heat like a sieve.

When you design this kind of system, specific pumping requirements  take shape.

Consider an old, leaky cottage somewhere in Belgium or Germany. It gets quite cold, so let’s assume a heat loss of 100,000 BTUH.  When picking a circulator for a parallel piping system, you size for the total flow rate of the system, but only the head loss of the worst case piping loop.  What you select as a designed-for Delta-T makes a huge difference.

Let’s presume the longest piping run of  ⅜” (≈ 14mm)  PEX is 100′ total – 50′ there, 50′ back – and the radiator needs to deliver 16,000 BTUH at design conditions.  Here’s the required flow rate at a 20Delta-T:

GPM = BTUH ÷ (ΔT × 500)
GPM = 16,000 ÷ (20 × 500)
GPM = 16,000 ÷ 10,000

GPM = 1.6

So that one radiator needs 1.6 GPM. What would the pressure drop be?

Let’s look it up.

At 1.6 GPM you’d get .45′ of head per foot of ⅜” PEX.  Multiply that by 100′ and you’d have 45′ of head


As a result, European panel rad systems are designed around Delta-T’s of 30 or 40 degrees, not because it’s “better” or “optimal,” but because that’s what’s needed to keep circulators for those types of systems reasonable to install and reasonably priced.

At a 30Delta-T, the flow rate for that radiator would be around 1 GPM, but the S&R piping head loss would be around 20′.

At 400, the flow rate drops to 0.8 GPM, making the head loss only 11′ of head per foot of pipe.  At a total run of 100′, that’s 11′ of head.  Add for the TRV and other components and you’re looking at around 12′ for the worst case loop.

The total load was 100,000 BTUH, so at a 40Delta-T the required flow rate would be 5 GPM. Your pump requirement would be 5 GPM at 12′ of head.

See where it fits?  Right in the “wheelhouse” of the low-flow, high-head, steep “European” pump curve.

So, that’s why European pump  curves  are steep – because the steep curve fits the most common application in Europe.  Traditional flat “American” curve pumps – made famous by Taco and B&G – are flat for the exact same reason, as we’ll discuss next time.

In the meantime, stay away from those Car Wash Blues…

“…the man says we got all that we can use…”

How Do You Do?

This may very well be one of my favorite music videos of all time…

Dutch duo Mouth & MacNeil with their #8 hit from the summer of ’72, “How Do You Do?

The 70′s were different, especially in Europe…

And speaking of Europe, there’s a tendency in our industry to look at Europe as the “Gold Standard” for hydronics.

“Well, that’s how they do it in Europe” is an oft-repeated phrase by those who are said to be “in the know,” as if European origin is somehow automatic validation of superiority or, at the very least, an indication of the latest, greatest and most efficient.

So, are European heating systems “better” than the heating systems we have here in the US?

Well, they’re different.  I’ll give you different.

But better?  For that we need to dig deeper than hearsay.

Roughly 90 to 95% of the homes in Europe are heated with hydronics, while only 6 to 8% of  US homes are.  The typical European hydronic heating system is made up of panel radiators with thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s).  These radiators are installed using a home-run parallel piping system, meaning there’s a direct supply and return line to each radiator from a centrally located manifold, using small diameter PEX or PEX-AL-PEX tubing (usually 14MM, the equivalent of our 3/8″).

Yep, that’s a pretty typical European residential hydronic heating system.  Have  you ever wondered why Europe does it that way?

Turns out there’s a very simple, very logical and incredibly practical reason.

A study of European residential construction is pretty interesting.  Roughly 42% of the residential housing stock in Northern and Western Europe (where most of the people live), was built prior to 1960, and most of that was pre-WWII.  The statistics tell the tale of the ravages of war.  In the UK, more than 55% of the homes were built prior to 1960, while in France that number drops to 43% and in Germany it’s only 35%.

And how were those homes heated?  Usually by either a coal stove or a hearth.

But starting in the late 60′s and continuing into the 70′s, these older homes were modernized with oil or gas-fired central heating systems. There were several reasons for this modernization, not the least of which was an increase in anti-pollution legislation.

Coal was pretty dirty back then.

As anyone who’s ever done it can attest, retrofitting an old home with central heating is a bear of a job. Technology came to the rescue in the early 70′s, with the rising availability of natural gas, the development of small, wall-hung boilers and the advent that new-fangled (at the time), flexible PEX tubing.

The really small stuff could be fished through the walls and timbers to each room. All you had to do was hook those home-runs to a radiator, slap a TRV on it and call it a day.

These types of heating systems became common throughout Europe simply because they were the easiest, most convenient and least expensive to install.

It’s not that they were better, more comfortable or more efficient than series loop baseboard systems, mono-flo systems, or two-pipe reverse return systems like we were installing here in the US.

They were just the easiest and the least expensive systems to install in the types of structures they had.

Now, this type of system – panel radiators with TRV’s, piped in a home-run manner using small diameter PEX, have very specific pumping requirements.

Aesop told us necessity is the mother of invention, and the pumping necessities of those systems led to the development of a very specific type of circulator for that very specific type of application – a circulator that was very different from what we were using over here in the good ‘ole US of A.

Which we’ll discuss next time.

And yes, Mouth and MacNeil were HUGE in Europe back in the early 70′s.  Wonder how they heated their homes?

Yep, life changing lyrics right there…


The Professor

In honor of the recent passing of Russell Johnson (aka “The Professor”) at age 89, we bring you this interesting take on two classics…

RIP Professor, one of the smartest men ever.

And speaking of professors, and the smartest men ever, I would like to submit to you the 2014-2016 winner of the Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence, the Mel Torme of Mini-Tube injection, the Tom Hanks of heating, that professor of Hydronics himself…

John Siegenthaler!

The “Brotherhood” of past recipients (Dave Yates, Mark Eatherton and yours truly), plus award stewards Robert Bean and the Dan Holohan, presented the award to John at last week’s AHR Expo at the Javits Center in snowy New York City last week, and it took him completely by surprise (I know how he feels!).  The award, as you may know, is the original B&G System Syzer Wheel created by the legendary Gil Carlson, the “Godfather” of American Hydronics (award history here)

Siggy is one of the legitimate “smart guys” in our industry – a graduate of RPI, a licensed mechanical engineer and a Professor Emeritus at Mohawk Valley Community College in upstate New York.  Here’s what it says on his plaque:

In recognition of your contributions to the world of keeping the human race healthy,
well and comfortable through selfless giving of your time and talents,
teaching and mentoring to raise the benchmark of professionalism
and in raising awareness and funds for industry causes,
the legacy of Gil Carlson and Dan Holohan forever and hereby includes,

John Siegenthaler

There are 53 words in that proclamation, but there are three that particularly fit Siggy to a T: teaching, mentoring and professionalism.

John has dedicated his life to teaching and mentoring in our little hydronics industry and he has, quite literally, written the book.  His epic Modern Hydronic Heating is now in its 3rd edition and is the “go-to” standard for all things hydronic.

And John’s professionalism? Simply stated, it’s physically impossible to attend a Siggy seminar, school or webinar and not come away with a book full of notes.  It’s an experience that changes the way you think and they way you do your job.

I’ve been very fortunate to be a caretaker of this award for the past two years.  It’s been an honor, but it’s an even bigger honor to hand it over to someone who is truly deserving and embodies the spirit of the Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence.

Welcome to the club, Siggy!

Whatever you do, don’t drop it!


A Small, Small World

With apologies to the Disney Corporation, Uncle Walt surely knew what he was talking about!

It really is a small world, after all.

How small?

Well, take the 2013 “Borrow Barba 3″ contest.

Because I miss all the planning meetings, Taco has decided to make me someone else’s problem for a day.  The most recent “winner” was chosen by computer from among nearly 800 entrants, so he won me for a day (2nd prize, of course, was 2 days).

The winner was Jason Michaels of Muirfield Mechanical in Boxboro, Massachusetts. This was exciting to me for the simple reason that Boxboro is right next door to my home town of Harvard, Massachusetts, so the trip to payoff the winner could be combined with a visit to some old friends and family.

Small world, right?

Wait.  It gets smaller.

After much discussion, is was pretty clear Jason had heard past stories of my fading field skills and wanted no part of me “suiting up” and going to work.  There were no safes to crack or, since it was December, lawns to mow.  There was, however, a home game down the highway in Foxboro (not to be confused with “Boxboro,” featuring the home town favorite New England Patriots against a supposed patsy, the Cleveland Browns.

“Hey Jason, want to go the Patriots-Browns game?”

He would!

So a quick tailgate party was arranged, meeting up with the one and only Bruce Marshall, Trainer-Supreme for Emerson Swan, Taco’s New England Manufacturer’s Representative and, officially, The Smartest Man I Know. Bruce has been tailgating at Pats games for nearly 30 years and has the whole affair down to a science.  The food is plentiful, tasty, perfectly timed, and plentiful.  Did I mention that?

On the way to the game, I told Jason that I grew up right next door to his office, in Harvard.

“I actually live in Harvard,” he said.

“Really, where do you live?”

“Corner of Ayer Road and South Shaker,” he replied, with a bit of a grin.

Hey, I know that house.

“Isn’t that the old West house?”

“Yup,” says Jason.  “In fact, I’m married to a West.”

I knew the West family.  Three brothers and a sister.  We all went to grade school, middle school and high school together.

“You’re married to Anne?” It was a guess, but an educated one.

Yup. And if it hadn’t been so cold, Anne would have be at the game with us.  Anne was a year behind me in high school and was pretty good friends with my wife, who was in the same class.

“It’s a small, small world…”

And two of Jason’s brothers-in-law are “in the biz,” too.  Dan is an oil dealer in town, and Rick is a plumbing and heating contractor.

In fact, Rick was an apprentice plumber under Dana Perkins, who, years earlier, apprenticed and worked under one Mario J. Barba of Harvard.  And as an apprentice, your faithful blogger (and at the time the boss’s son), also worked under Dana.

It’s a very small place.

How small? Dudley Moore sums it up quite nicely…

Anyway, it was fun making Jason’s acquaintance, although we had met before, albeit unmemorably at our respective wives’ 30th class reunion some 4 years prior.

Now, for the full confession part.  During the Pats-Browns game – the Patriots were playing like the Tommy Hodson/Marc Wilson/Rod Rust era Pats.

In a word, crappy.

And Cleveland was walking all over them.

After a late Cleveland score put the game seemingly out of reach with just over two minutes to go, the stadium started emptying.  I see Jason pulling out of the seats and heading for the exit.  Can’t really let him go alone, can I? So my boss, son and I also left.

Big freakin’ mistake!

Now, I’m not entirely sure the Big Man Upstairs had a hand in this comeback, but it was a comeback for the ages nonetheless, one we witnessed from…

The parking lot.

Yup, we were among those B******S who left with 2 minutes to go.


Anyway, thanks to Jason for a memorable “Borrow Barba 3″ contest.

Small world.

But I wouldn’t want to pain it.

Next year, I’m looking for a winner from the Pebble Beach/Monterey area who likes to golf. And I promise to stay through all 18 holes.

I think we can re-program the computer!


Beautiful Day

A fine “play loud” piece of music to ring in the New Year…

And even thought it’s -11 here in Minnesota this morning, it’s a Beautiful Day, and looking back on the 2013, it was a Beautiful Year, blogwise.

Here’s a look back at this year’s Top 10:

January, 2013 started off with a trip back to 1950.  Mr. Rudolph Lizotte wanted a revolutionary new heating system installed in his house.  This cutting edge technology was called “fin-tube baseboard.” Mr. Lizotte’s installer? One Mario J. Barba of Harvard, MA.  Here’s my old man’s recollections of how he tip-toed into this new-fangled radiation, and what the rep had to do to help make the job happen…

And later that month, we kicked off a 3-part series on the Mystery of The Banging Zone Valves. It took the combined efforts of Sherlock Holmes, Columbo, Shaggy and Scooby to get to the bottom of this whodunnit (Parts 2 & 3 are here and here).

A good portion of our blogging year has been spent studying variable speed circulators.  We launched a series in mid-February trying to separate the fact from the fiction – starting with Speed King.”  

In early March we lost guitar king Alvin Lee. His talents are featured in Bees Make Honey, a look at the role of Delta-T in variable speed pumping (Hint – it’s not the target, it’s the “aiming device“).  The rest of this 4-part series focuses on how changing water temperatures and changing flows affect the output of heat emitters.  Check them out here, here and here.

Baseball season started in April (and for Sawx fans, it’d be a darn good year!), and we launched a series on the very distinct functional differences between Delta-T and Delta-P variable speed pumping, and how those differences may matter to your heating systems.  Girls Talk started the 5-part series.  Check out the rest here, here, here and here.

In July, NASA’s Mars Rover starts poking around the Red Planet, Phil wins the British Open and you guys gobbled up a 3-part series of case studies on the fuel saving benefits of Delta-T variable speed pumping, starting with Anthony’s Voice.”  Delta (T) Dawn and Feel The Noise follow.

By late August everyone was still wondering just what the hell had happened to Miley Cyrus, but the FloPro Blog decided that musically, 1974 was the better choice.  ”Midnight At The Oasis” kicked off a 3 part series on the importance of system curves when it comes to choosing a circulator, and why a 3-speed pump isn’t always the right choice, especially when using zone valves.  Click here and here for the Parts 2 and 3.

What Red Sox fan will ever forget October?  It was BoSox, Beards and Baseball all month long!  In Blog-land, we featured a 2-part series on what not to do when you lose a customer.  Check out Already Gone and the follow-up, Takin’ Care of Business.

Words were the topic of the month in November – more precisely, why we should take a critical look at some of the words or phrases we commonly use when selling hydronics, and why those words or phrases may not be appropriate, or helpful.  Is a new boiler really an “investment?” Check out Words,” Call Me Al and Chirpy Chirpy Cheap Cheap for some provocative reading.

And we wound up the blogging year with a post about – you guessed it – Delta-T variable speed pumping (are you sensing a theme here?).  Watching The Wheels shares with you the importance of the Universal Hydronics Formula and why it can’t be ignored or minimized when it comes to variable speed pumping.  It was good enough for the great Gil Carlson, it’s good enough for us, too!

It’s been a pleasure blogging for you this year. We’ve had more than 14,000 hits this year and for that we offer a very sincere “thank you!” We hope what you’ve found here has been useful and thought provoking.

And with the help of U2, here’s wishing a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

“A world in white gets underway…”