Another Vote For A WaterSense Plumbing Partner Award

I read Bob Miodonski’s November column (“Add A WaterSense Partner Award For Plumbing Professionals,” November 2009) and I concur. I am a current EPA WaterSense Retail Partner and asked the same question when I attended the first WaterSmart conference last year. The folks from EPA told me they had the inability to administer a plumbing partnership due to staffing.

I am a certified instructor for GreenPlumbers USA and when I teach plumbers, I let them know of the program and tell them to encourage the EPA to create a plumbing partnership.  If we keep pushing, eventually it will happen.

Joseph T. Schwab

S&S Plumbing Inc.

Sarasota, Fla.

Becoming A Business Owner Requires Business Knowledge

In Jim Olsztynski’s “Happiness Is ... Owning A Business” editorial (November 2009), he comments that “recruiters haven’t touted the opportunity to become business owners.” In this area, my wife has commented on the fact that, when a plumber goes out of business, the next week all his employees seem to be running around with magnetic “Plumbing Company” signs on their trucks.

But when you call plumbers in the phone book, half of them are out of business. They seem to be fixated on making all that “money the boss used to keep for himself” by becoming business owners without knowing how to earn it.

Harry Jacobson

Jacobson Plumbing

Cave Creek, Ariz.

Jim’s response: Your observation is sad but true, Harry. I’ve written before about the fact that too many plumbers are in business who should be working for someone else. My point in this latest article mainly applied to the success stories.

Questions About Wood Boilers And Variable-Speed Pumps

I have one question each for two of your writers (this is not a criticism of your fine magazine):

In the opening paragraphs of John Siegenthaler’s October 2009 Hydronics Workshop column (“From Wood To Water, Part 1”), he chides the typical wood-burning enthusiast who obsesses over extensive equipment usage. And he lightly comments that the super log-splitter that he saw demonstrated “could probably pay for itself before you die.” How long does he think it will take for that convoluted system displayed in his article to pay for itself?

John’s response: Ned,  I have nothing against the firewood processor equipment I mentioned. I watched several of these units being demonstrated and was impressed by what they could do. Equipment like this costs $40,000-$60,000, and is intended for those who make their living harvesting and selling firewood. I don’t know of any homeowners who would spend that much money to block and split wood - unless they were using an exorbitant amount because of very low thermal efficiency in their wood-burning device or poor design/control of the balance of the system.

The system shown is designed to utilize the high efficiency of a wood-gasification boiler and deliver high-quality, consistent comfort to the building at all times. If the wood-fired boiler can’t do this, the auxiliary boiler takes over automatically. The equipment shown is what’s necessary to make this happen safely, efficiently and over many years of service. If a client doesn’t want automatic backup, or high-efficiency combustion, or domestic hot water, or properly controlled floor heating, simpler systems are possible. Which of these benefits should be left out?

Julius Ballanco bemoans the rarity of residential variable-speed pumps in his October 2009 Plumbing Primer column (“Residential Variable-Speed Pumps”). As we know, add-on variable-speed controllers are readily available for small horsepower, single-phase fan coil heating and cooling units, as well as ECM motors. Variable-speed hydronic circulating pumps are practically endemic to the trade. What makes the same science so inapplicable to water pumps?

Julius responds: The same science is applicable. However, it just hasn’t been used to a great extent. Now the water pump manufacturers are getting on board.

Ned Kauffman

Kauffman Mechanical

Dornsife, Pa.


We printed incorrect information for SFA Saniflo and Symmons Industries in our December 2009 manufacturers’ listing. The correct information is below.

SFA Saniflo: 105 Newfield Ave., Suite A, Edison, NJ 08837; 800/571-8191; Fax: 732/225-6072;

Symmons Industries contacts: Jeffrey Reilly, vice president/marketing; Dominic Solis, vice president/sales; John Couture, vice president/engineering; Megan Thatford, public relations manager; and Nishant Sharma, director of commercial product management.