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CO Concerns

Your cover story in the January issue ("Turning Danger Into Dividends") made me think about the call I received from a customer three weeks into the heating season about a faulty thermostat. She called later and canceled, but the message never got to me. I arrived at the house to find the thermostat working properly.

While I was there I thought I would service the 300,000 Btu steam boiler. I went to the basement to check the boiler and found that I could not hold my hand under the draft hood. I got in touch with my customer to inform her to get a chimney sweep to clean her chimney. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

She informed me that they did not have a chimney. During the summer months, they had some construction going on in the house. They wanted to enlarge a second-story bathroom, so they informed their general contractor that they no longer used the two fireplaces on the first floor. So the contractor cut into the chimney between the first floor and the attic. He engineered an elaborate support in the attic to support the remaining chimney through the roof, because the house is in a historic district.

I asked her if she had woke up with a headache, and she said she had. I told her that she and I were very lucky to be having this conversation. After I told her what she and her family had been breathing, she began to tremble.

We were able to install a new flue from the basement to the roof. How many more people are buying historic homes and think their chimneys are working properly? How many deaths are diagnosed as natural causes, when they are really CO deaths? I wanted to share this story with you. I love PM and everyone that supplies articles every month.

Tracy Cress
Cress Brothers Plumbing and Heating
Concord, N.C.

Picture Imperfect

I enjoy receiving your magazine. I took special interest in the front cover of the January issue since I noticed that the service tech does not have the probe of his combustion analyzer in the correct location to test this appliance correctly. I have just completed the same course by Jim Davis of National Comfort Institute (mentioned in the cover story) and was taught to put the probe into the flue opening before dilution air mixed with the flue gases. I hope that this is just a photo error. Keep up the good work.

Eric Sarrow
VanNatta Mechanical Corp.
Emerson, N.J.

Your cover for the January issue shows a tech working on a water heater. The problem, however, is that the domestic water connections do not include unions.

Kris Carlson
Plumbing by Carlson Inc.
Topeka, Kan.

Editor's Note: We're glad our readers have such an eye for details. It will help everyone spot many subtle problems during calls. However, our photo doesn't necessarily mean the technician pictured didn't know what he was doing. More likely, the water heater wasn't completely installed yet (or even installed at all), and the photographer simply snapped the shutter in the split second when the technician was either withdrawing from or inserting the probe into the correct position.

Knocking Knockoffs

After reading Lee Mercer's article about faucet knockoffs, I could not agree more. As a wholesaler, it's hard to sell genuine items when there are imitations in the market that sell for less than our cost. On the other hand, Mr. Mercer fails to distinguish between the two distinct product lines that Moen produces: one for the big box retailers and one for the plumbing wholesalers. The items look the same to the naked eye, but if you were to take them apart and examine their contents it would be obvious that the components are not the same. How do you explain to a do-it-yourselfer that the item that came from the big box retailer will not accept the parts that are on your shelf, especially when you have a sign on your building that states you are an "authorized Moen distributor?" By not letting people know upfront that the items are not the same, you force wholesalers to look to inexpensive alternatives to compete, and that is not right. Look closely at what Moen is doing because they are certainly not helping the cause.

Brian Schwartz
Elmsford Winnelson Plumbing Supply
Elmsford, N.Y.

One More Guess

In reference to the mystery object submitted by Dan Dougan pictured in your December issue, I know what it is. First it would have helped had I known in what part of the house Dan removed the copper vessel. Was there an operating valve above the floor? Was the vessel trapped? Anyway, I believe it was a floor-mounted urinal. Don't laugh and let me explain. The water line entering to the upper half at an angle is a very important clue. When activated, the water will enter this pot-belly-shaped vessel and create a whirlpool effect thus scouring the outer wall. The above-floor cover that has a knob was to be moved by the foot to gain access, then flushed and closed in the same manner. The 2-inch copper waste line is too small for a water closet and too big for a basin. This might have been the first floor-mounted urinal in existence.

Dario "Steve" Diaz
Diaz Plumbing & Heating Corp.
Bronx, N.Y.