Keep politics out of Plumbing & Mechanical

This afternoon I came home to find the May 2016 issue of Plumbing & Mechanical in my mailbox as I have for the past 18+ years. It is something I always look forward to — from the great articles about how to design heating systems to handle any situation, to articles about how to run a better and profitable business, to Dan Holohan and his unique way of teaching us anything (he will be missed on the speaking circuit). However, this month there was something different.

I was offended when I read “The Beschloss Perspective” column (“Union membership declining”), where Morris Beschloss decided it would be OK to sound off on his political viewpoints. It felt as if I was listening to Donald Trump trying to tell me “what is wrong with this country” by spewing out hatred, mistruths and outright lies. Personally, I think this country is already great. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a supporter of the Democratic candidate, but I feel as though Mr. Beschloss went over the line.

So here is the “Lyne Perspective”: Keep this magazine as a publication designed for plumbing and mechanical issues and keep the politics out of it.

John P. Lyne

Top of the Lyne P&H

Norwell, Mass.


While overall I am happy to see my copy of Plumbing & Mechanical magazine show up in the mailbox, I have seen a disturbing trend for a long time from one of your featured writers.

Morris Beschloss, for the lack of a better term, is simply a political hack.

His writing always beats on Democrats while shining a light on how great the Republicans are.

One comment in his February 2016 column (“Copper in freefall as 2015 ends”) was “The big advantage of (Paul) Ryan replacing long-standing predecessor John Boehner, was the latter’s perceived tendency to be too cooperative with the Obama administration.”

Really? Cooperation is a bad thing? Being uncooperative is one of the biggest problems we have in our political system today.

All the same, I feel a bit more “in the know” of markets, trends and such after I read most of the articles in this magazine. I would prefer that Mr. Beschloss stick to facts about the market and less on being a political writer.

His flag-waving, right-wing superiority perspective is not what this magazine is for.

Rev Milhone

Atlas Plumbing & Heating

Durand, Ill.


Heat pump water heaters not worth the hype

The January 2016 Plumbing & Mechanical article “The heat pump difference” on heat pump water heaters, written by Steven Ryan of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, is biased, unbalanced and woefully incomplete.

First and foremost, it completely omits mention of the many millions of places where heat pump water heaters simply will not work, as in space-limited closets in apartments and condominiums, or in houses that do not have basements.

For example, one major heat pump water heater manufacturer recommends a minimum space of 1,000 cubic ft. or more than 10% of the area of many apartments or condominiums. Alternatively, for spaces less than 1,000 cubic ft., it recommends that a “minimum of 250 cubic ft. per minute of unconditioned air exchange is required,” without mentioning the source, electric and energy implications.

The costs associated with standard electric water heaters is overstated and tied directly to past U.S. Department of Energy test procedures. A review of DOE Residential Energy Consumption Survey data shows that electric-resistance water heaters are far less expensive to operate (about $350 per year, not $600 per year).

Nothing is said about the increased cost of maintenance and service, compared with electric-resistance water heaters. Nor is there any definitive mention of the life expectancy or the increased cost of installation and ultimate disposal costs. Dividing the lifetime electricity cost savings shown in Table 1 by the annual savings yields anywhere from 8 to 11 years, depending on family size, which should be more constant. If indeed, the life is 13 years as claimed, then it should be 13.

In Table 2, Puget Sound Energy is not located in Texas.

No mention is made about the requirements for compliance with building codes, ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 15 on refrigerant safety and EPA regulations on refrigerants. Nor was the requirement for technicians dealing with refrigerants to be certified.

Where electric-resistance water heaters are part of a utility demand-response or grid-enabled program that provides rebates or credits, those will be lost with a heat pump water heater. That is another cost penalty never mentioned.

Finally, the heat absorbed from the surroundings to make hot water must come from somewhere and cost something. Nothing is mentioned about the increased cost for heating the area where the water heater is located. Whether gas or electric heat, there will be an associated space-heating cost increase that will offset savings compared with electric-resistance water heaters.

Therefore, the article does not present a complete or balanced view of the subject, does not mention millions of applications where heat pump water heaters will not work at all, and will not always “cut the high costs of electric water heating in half.”

Larry Spielvogel, P.E., FASHRAE

Consulting engineer

Bala Cynwyd, Pa.