Some feedback from our readers.

Well-Deserved Break

I finally got half a day off, and wanted to let everyone know I really enjoyed the article (“Meet James Boyers: Plumbing Contractor & Patriot,” August 2003). It turned out very well! I have been here a month now and haven’t slowed down yet. We have been very busy to say the least and it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon.

All we do is fly and sleep it seems. We run operations 24/7 and stay very busy. The flying here is actually very enjoyable, but there are still a lot of people who would like to see you dead. Because of that you always have to be ready.

The countryside is actually very interesting; it goes from desert, to mountains, to a very red color much like you see on pictures of Mars. We operate the helicopter at the max end of what it can do so you have to stay ahead of the aircraft.

Take care and I hope you all have a great weekend!

James Boyers
Somewhere in Afghanistan
(Editor’s note: We received James’ letter on the Friday before the Labor Day weekend.)


I enjoyed Carol Fey’s column in August PM as I usually do (“Why The Electric Chair Is AC … And Other Mysteries”). I just wanted to write to clear up a few historical mistakes, as I am a bit of a historian.

The part about Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse was backward. Edison pioneered DC and Westinghouse backed Nikola Tesla in the development of AC. It was the Westinghouse allies who invented the electric chair using AC. Because of the higher voltages and currents, AC was deemed more dangerous.

Edison, seeking to discredit AC, gave his approval to the chair, banking on the public being repulsed by the electrocution. Unfortunately, the first electrocution was a disaster with the man not being killed quickly and humanely but literally fried to death, amounting to torture. The public was repulsed, but their ire was directed at Edison, himself, as he had given his approval to the procedure and should have known, and probably did know, better.

The resulting firestorm of controversy caused Edison’s financial backers to terminate their support and unceremoniously dump him from all of their projects.

Edison General Electric became simply General Electric and so on. AC won the day and the rest, of course, is history. Thank-you and keep up the good work.

Kevin F. Dooley
The Lima Co.
Langhorne, Pa.

The New Asbestos

I have attached a photo of moisture damage from a leaking water heater (see magazine for photo). While a leaking tank cannot be prevented, the Uniform Plumbing Code has mandated a catch pan under a water heater for new tank installations (section 510.7) to minimize such damage. The home that this photo comes from is pending at least $4,500 in mold-related mitigation and repairs, not including the furnace/duct work that conveyed mold spores throughout the home. This water heater is in the garage on a common subfloor with the furnace.

Mold litigation is the new “asbestos” (as covered in PM recently). When a plumber neglects to install a $15 catch pan, anywhere within the footprint of a home, then the plumber has violated an industry mandate, ignored the manufacturer’s warnings and has reinforced the negative press that plumbers do not deserve.

Joe Nernberg
Retired plumbing contractor
AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service
Agoura Hills, Calif.

Inexpensive Insurance Policy

As an advertiser and manufacturer of water heater stands, I feel Mr. Ballanco’s column, “New Water Heater Update” (August 2003) is a bit misleading. With this new flammable vapor ignition resistant technology, when the water heater flame comes in contact with a flammable vapor, the inside components of the water heater either need to be replaced or a new water heater purchased by the homeowner. I believe that a $20 water heater stand is an inexpensive insurance policy that any “stupid fool” should offer the homeowner.

Len Atkins
C&S Mfg. Corp.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

There Goes The Neighborhood

I couldn’t agree more with Dan Holohan’s column (“New Heights,” May 2003). Dan makes reference to Willis Carrier regarding lower ceilings. I would like to add that Mr. Carrier probably caused the demise of the neighborhood. Before he came along, we used to have porches or stoops on which we sat. From that vantage point we would see, and even speak to, our neighbors.

My guess is that before his invention people probably knew most of their neighborhood residents. We probably even knew when strangers were present (an early version of “Crime Watchers”). Of course, we might have also known each other’s families and upcoming weddings, graduations and other celebrations.

Then along came air-conditioning. We all live in our own temperature-controlled homes and don’t even know our neighbors. All this is due to Mr. Carrier.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Steven Weinberger
Weinberger Co.
Old Forge, Pa.