Sunday, December 23, 2012

Product Review: Break Free CLP

As a gun owner, I'm always looking for something to clean and lubricate my pieces. Sure, you can buy a bore solvent, gun grease and oil, and probably a myriad of other products to do same. What I really wanted was Ballistol, but no one in my area, other than a place in Eaton Rapids, which is out of my way has it. Most, even in gun stores give me a blank stare as if I were speaking Aramaic or Reformed Egyptian (whatever that is). I've used and still use Rem Oil for the most part. It does a good job, is readily available and gentle on composite parts. I've also used Gun Scrubber and brake cleaner to get the tough stuff cleaned off, but these aren't the most economical either. Besides, space in my place is at a premium. The less cleaners and lubricant varieties I have to store, the better. I went to Gander Mountain and asked for Ballistol, got the thousand yard stare (I love Gander Mountain) and went to find a cleaner/lubricant. What I found was Break Free CLP, by Safariland. It reads right on the can, "cleaner, lubricant, preservative." Sold, for about $10. After firing about 50 rounds through the Bersa .45 and 100 or so through the Ruger 9mm, I assumed there would be enough dirt to effect a good test. The guns are aluminum and tool steel, glass reinforced nylon and stainless steel respectively. I field stripped both guns and lightly sprayed this cleaner enough to soak the metal.

What I noticed right away is that this stuff foams big time. It also broke the powder and any fouling loose that was present and coated everything with a film of oil, so much that I had to wipe my guns down several times to remove the excess film. This was especially true with the composite frame on the Ruger, or the hard rubber grip on the Bersa. Even now, several weeks later there is still a goodly residue on all the moving parts of both guns. Another benefit is that the dust and dirt that normally get mingled with the lubricant are just not present with CLP.

My review on this product will have a part two, but my first assessment is to be very careful that you don't overapply this stuff as it make things slippery in a hurry. It's nearly impossible to clean off the excess, which is a lot thereof. A very light touch on the button is all you need... to be continued. Maranatha!

Pyrex Glassware Chip Fix

This is a quick one, courtesy of my cooking teacher Rita Rood. She's long since retired from her teaching job, but I remember her lessons well, 28 years later. Either here, there or in the air we will meet again...
When you run a home economics class with a tight budget, you tend to figure out ways to save money quickly. Pyrex utensils are expensive, and I've had mine close to two decades. When I found a chip in my two cup measuring cup, throwing this away wasn't an option. However, cutting yourself on a sharp edge isn't exactly one either. Caution, wear gloves and eye protection when doing this fix. This works ONLY on tempered glass. Regular glass MUST be discarded or recycled as this will crack and probably severely cut someone. If the piece is cracked, throw it away as will likely break further. If this is a chip, proceed.

What you need is 100 to 400 grit sandpaper along with the eye protection and gloves. I forwent the gloves, and only had 400 grit paper, but that's your choice. I always wear eye protection. Take the sandpaper and use it to smooth out the sharp edges on the chip. The lower the grit number, the more aggressive on the glass it will be. You want the rough edges smooth, but don't get carried away as the edges will never be perfect again. You're just trying to save the piece. Once the edges are smooth enough for your liking, wash it and you're done. Maranatha!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Apollo Water Heater Fix.

Try as I might, I couldn't find any information online about Apollo hydronic heating system or their water heater AND their issues. As anyone who's had the pleasure of living in an apartment with these systems, they use the water heater to heat both the potable (domestic) water and to heat your living space. There must be an advantage somewhere, but if you take too many Hollywood showers, you're going to take longer to heat your home. I guess the advantage is its simplicity in only needing one gas appliance, not to mention the cost saving in building and installation. These aren't too terribly high maintenance, and for the most part they will happily heat your apartment and water without a problem. However, the little maintenance they do need is crucial. Neglect this one little thing and you have a problem that will confound you and probably even a few service techs to boot. I used to install these things back in the day, and I hate working on them. It isn't that the parts themselves are too hard to fix, but the location is what makes these a pain to get to. New water heaters in general are the bane of my existence by design. You see, the government mandated about a decade ago that water heaters needed flame arresters to help prevent them from igniting flammable liquids stored next to same. These flame arresters are usually made of a dense screen material that's about a half inch thick and about eight to twelve inches around.

The problem is that these screens will plug up in short order from dust and dirt getting sucked into them from the draft. The result is that the water heater will go off on limit and if you're lucky, you'll be able to cool it down and relight it. If you aren't, you're going to spend a couple hundred dollars to replace the pilot assembly. Such is the price of progress and trust me, I hate this design with a passion. However, the fix and prevention isn't too terrible as long as you have some space to work. If not, prepare to lay down and stand on your head to fix this abomination.

Again, this repair is pretty straightforward and requires basic hand tools as well as a vacuum cleaner, air tank or air compressor with a blowgun. You could just use a vacuum, but this will be a little more tedious. This fix can expose you to moderate to severe burns. There is also risk of fire and explosion causing injury, death or property damage as you will be removing gas lines. Make sure the water heater is cool before you work on it. When in doubt, consult the services of a competent service technician to effect this fix. The cost will be minimal compared to an emergency room or funeral bill. This may be extreme, but better to be too careful.  Do this and any other fixes at your own risk.

You will need the aforementioned vacuum cleaner, and air source if you can get it. You'll also need a set of wrenches from 3/8, 7/16 and possibly a 3/4 or an adjustable wrench or gripping pliers, as well as a socket set to remove the cover plate. You'll want to remove those two nuts to that plate, unscrew the thermocouple, pilot tube and main burner tube from the gas control. Carefully, work the burner out without tearing the gasket, paying attention to how it goes back together and set it aside. There will be the screen material underneath the burner, so blow that from the inside out with your vacuum or compressed air. Spend a good ten minutes on this and if you can feel air movement through it, you're golden. Take a second and clean around the water heater with the vacuum cleaner and blow the screen through one more time. Clean any more debris that works out. Repeat this process a time or two, or until there's no more debris evident. Put everything back together and check for leaks as you start it up. Use bubbles for this as they're more user friendly, but be careful not to get them all over the gas control itself. Carefully stick your hand next to the screen under the water heater; you should feel the slightest of air movement. If not, shut it down and clean it again. See, I told you this was a pain, but does anyone listen?

So, how does one prevent this fiasco? Every water heater comes with a filter that wraps around the base. This is made of a soft plastic with a fine screen and is usually black in color. The trick is to inspect this every month or two and clean it with a vacuum when it starts to plug up. Most of the time, people will either throw it away or remove it because it's too much of a pain in the rumpus to get it back on. Bite the bullet and make sure it gets back on, or replace it if it's missing. It will save you a no heat or no hot water in the long run, and the time and expense of correcting same. Maranatha!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sighting in the Ruger SR9c

Disclaimer: 11/16/14 I understand that people are really "fired up" about their guns and want to be right. This article was written nearly two years ago and I understand after owning a few handguns that not everyone of them is accurate from the factory. In short, I get it. So you can save your breath with the comments pertaining to same. The other is that I don't have nor use a boresight, a "problem" I intend to rectify soon. These are anywhere from $40 to $100 and not everyone has that kind of money laying around, especially around Christmas time or after plunking down four bills for a new gun. Sighting it this way, slowly and methodically cost me less than $10 in ammo and I never have a problem with target practice on my gun. A boresight is the best way to help get things close, but you still need to adjust the sights using live ammo.

Warning: As with anything pertaining to firearms, you MUST follow all safety rules. Eye and hearing protection is mandatory. Do not point a gun at anything you do not intend to destroy and NEVER, EVER put your finger on the trigger unless you are ready to shoot. You WILL have a negligent discharge, guaranteed! Use only firearms in good working condition. In addition, consult the services of a competent, professional gunsmith for all repairs or adjustments affecting the safety and reliability of any firearm. Never perform this adjustment in a setting where injury, death or property damage could result if a discharge occurs. You are responsible for the safe operation and maintenance of your firearm, so do this and any other repairs at your own risk.

I got my Ruger SR9c back in September to replace my Beretta PX4 Storm Compact, a gun that was dead on accurate at seven yards or more, but was a pain in the butt to carry and sliced my fingers trying to shoot on more than one occasion. The Ruger was lighter, thinner and striker fired, which should have made it a joy to carry and use, but the accuracy was just not there. Sure, I could hit with it, but not accurately or consistently enough to keep all my rounds on paper at the prescribed distance. Even in a high stress situation, you still need to be able accurately hit your target. On most handguns, the sights are fixed and require some gunsmithing to get to rights. On the Ruger SR9c, the front sight is adjustable with a drift, but the rear sight is adjustable with an Allen wrench and a slot screwdriver. For the most part, this gun should shoot accurately right out of the box. However, mine was shooting low after many attempts to correct my stance, etc. I couldn't even blame it on recoil, or "anticipating the kick" as the recoil on this piece is nearly non-existent. 

There are two adjustments on the rear sight. One is for elevation, and the other for windage. Elevation is adjusted with that slot screw and the windage is with the Allen wrench. For the most part, you will never need to adjust for windage, or left and right on this gun. Elevation, because of the trajectory or path of the bullet as well as holding and aiming the gun and your depth perception will affect how these sights need to be aligned. At twenty one feet, the bullet isn't going to drop that much and this is where you need to be able to hit accurately. For this, I was back about twenty eight feet, or a little over nine yards. To sight this gun without a bore sight, you will need to load a few rounds of the weight you intend to carry (I use 115 grain), align the front sight with the target. This like putting a pumpkin on a post, so to speak with the target on top and "touching" the front sight. Align the rear sight so the front sight is centered in the notch of the rear one and level with each other. Fire off several rounds and note where they landed. If they ended up low, tighten the screw, lowering the rear sight a little. If they land high, loosen the screw. Fire off a couple more rounds and adjust until the said rounds hit where the sight picture is. This takes some practice, and a little trial and error, but you will get the rounds where they need to go. As long as you consistently hold the gun properly and align the sights, it shouldn't take more than one or two adjustments to get this right. Regardless, you're not striving for pinpoint accuracy, but to place your rounds in a tight group of about four to six inches, maybe less. The trick is that the sights need to go where the rounds are landing and vice versa. Then you can take full advantage of the accuracy of your gun. Hopefully, this was helpful as I'm not a gun expert, but a gun realist. 

Update: I got the Ruger as accurate as it's going to get and have about 500 rounds through same without a malfunction. I fired 120 today without a problem. Maranatha! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Easy Fix for Natural Gas to LP or Vice Versa.

As if there wasn't enough to do in one day, the office sends me one more service call. The customers switched propane suppliers and get a little more than they bargained for. The technician found a leaking gas control and promptly shut the works down. "At least the hard part is done," I sighed as I went to the supply house to pick up the part and my newly repaired set of manifold gauges. Famous last words anyone?

DISCLAIMER: Follow ALL directions that come with the gas control and the conversion kit and when in doubt consult the services of a competent HVAC technician. This is serious stuff, and propane can asphyxiate, burn violently, and tends to settle in basements. Injury, death, or property damage in any combination can result from taking shortcuts. I have no control over the quality of your work, so perform this and any other fixes at your own risk.

The furnace was old enough to drive and had an electronic ignition with a separate pilot burner. These are pretty much obsolete, but many strive to keep these furnaces running well past their prime, as cars, plasma TVs, and the tablet computers have more visual impact. These furnaces are a ticking time bomb in may ways. Any money the customer saves on these is being wasted in higher utility bills and some monstrous repair bills that will arrive without any warning. The customer expected to pay about $200 on a gas valve, but ended up with one in excess of $520. If your furnace is over 10 years old, start saving for its replacement. If it's over 10 years old and needs over $250 in repairs, consider replacing it ASAP. Off my soapbox.

The gas valve went together in the usual way, but when I went to install the conversion kit to get this to run on propane (liquefied petroleum gas or LP) things got hairy. The propane kit on a Honeywell gas valve has a spring, adjusting screw, instructions, a black cap and a sticker. The adjusting screw is made of soft plastic with Torx or slotted screw molded in. They also have plastic teeth that make it tough to get it into the valve. This means that you use more force to screw it on top of the spring and the screw will promptly strip out. The fix is this: Follow the directions, but reuse the adjusting screw off the valve rather than the one in the kit. Just be sure to adjust the manifold pressure with a manometer to the proper setting. Be sure to use the spring, cap, sticker, but reuse that screw. That's it. Maranatha!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Amana 90% Down Flow Furnace Fix

This post deals with furnace repair. This is best left to a competent service technician and in fact this is a technician tip. If you're inclined, remember that improper repairs can cause injury, death, or property damage. Doing this repair can expose you to some nasty cuts from the burrs on the heat exchanger or the drill bit, electrical shock, burns, asphyxiation from improperly tightening the screws or breaking a vent pipe. Breathing in the acetic acid from the silicone isn't exactly healthy either. You can break parts on these in a New York minute, and I have no control over the quality of your work. Do these and any other fixes at your own risk.

A few days ago, the office sent me to a maintenance call on a second story Amana 90% down flow furnace. The inducer motor was noisy as a cat trapped in a rain barrel and the collector box resembled Niagara Falls.  The first picture is the burner box. Good thing the control board was above this mess. The furnace was made in 2005 and has the green cabinet.

The picture is off my camera phone, so it will never do the situation justice. Note the hole with the gasket in the center of the black plastic collector box. Someone replaced the inducer prior to my visit and reused the old gasket, hence the water tracks. A better idea would have been to scrape this mess out and use a high temp silicone, but I digress. Do you see the screws all around the outside of this mess, and the PVC elbow in the upper left hand corner? This is going to make getting that screw out a pain in the butt. The elbow was glued in at the factory. Because of the wiring next to same, a jigsaw was out of the question.

Here's a little better shot of the elbow and the wiring. I could have lopped this off with a PVC cutter in retrospect. However, the wiring was in the way and mine wasn't quite big enough to get around that pipe. My socket wrench was also a bit awkward and my hands aren't what they used to be. Since I was out in the middle of nowhere, my options were limited. I do have a drill, and more than a couple bits, so here's what I did.

Instead of getting frustrated, I took my drill and made two holes in the elbow. This allows me to get my nut runner in there to get the screw out. The one that was in there has a 5/16 inch head. To make life easier, I switched to one with a 1/4 inch head from the collector box. Rather than trying to use a gasket on these furnaces and risk cracking the plastic collector, use a good high temperature, room temperature vulcanization  (RTV for short) silicone gasket. Clear or aluminum silicone will work in a pinch, but never use black as this will inevitably fail. Get a 1/4 bead around the sealing surface and the screw holes on that box or plate. Peel off all the old foam gasket off the heat exchanger with your fingernail, or use a plastic scraper. Put the works back together, run it, check for leaks and you're done. Maranatha!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact Pro .45 Review, First Impression

Note, I got this as a used gun.  Some of the points I make may be useful if considering purchasing one new, but many of us are on tight budgets and considering a used one as an alternative.  I don't consider myself a gun expert, but a gun realist.  Reality is that any gun is better than none at all.  I would, if I were you, take any gun you're considering purchasing to a competent gunsmith to make sure it's in good condition.  I've seen too many horror stories of people cobbling them together out of mismatched parts and selling to them to unsuspecting buyers.  These kinds of defects can cost you your life. Other than the aforementioned magazine release problem, the grip and some minor wear to the finish, the gun I got is in excellent working order.  Used guns will come with scuffs, wear on the finish, and other blemishes and these shouldn't discourage a potential buyer from giving one a good home.  Off my soapbox.

Three weeks after sending the gun in with a broken magazine release to Gander Mountain, I got it back with a new magazine release and grip. The work it needed was fairly minor, and even $20 shipping for Bersa to fix it wasn't bad at all. Yes, they actually fixed it. I'm impressed it only took three weeks.

The Bersa Thunder UC Pro .45 loaded with seven rounds weighs in at 33 ounces, is about 6 8/10 inches long, 5 1/10 inches high and nearly an inch and a half thick at the grips.  Other than the weight and thickness, it's nearly identical in size to the Ruger Sr9c which I also use as carry gun.  It's also about 3/8 inch wider, about 1/3 inch taller (and has one more round capacity) and weighs six ounces more than a Glock 36, which is about $200 more retail. Magazines are about $50 apiece and all are seven round capacity. The materials are forged steel for the barrel and slide, and all are treated with Tenifer. The finish on these has a reputation of fading out as the gun ages and wears, (but thus far rust hasn't been an issue). The frame is made of an aluminum alloy and the one piece grip is made of hard rubber. The safety features are a firing pin block, safety/decocker, and a loaded chamber indicator, as well as an internal lock that turns this weapon into a paperweight. There is no magazine disconnect, so it will go "bang" regardless if you press the trigger and there's a round in the chamber. By the way, I've seen this gun retail new for about $375 to $400. These, as Jack Webb would say, the facts and just the facts (and I'm dating myself big time, I know) The rest is a bit more subjective, so here goes.

So far I've carried this gun on and off for a month and in spite of its mass, carries comfortably with the right holster. It needs to be leather or suede if worn in the waistband. Synthetic materials will not hold up to the slide release or safety on this gun, with the result being a less than comfortable carry. Good news is you can get a decent suede holster for less than $50. Mine came with a Vega, but a Blackhawk tuckable will also work. Look for something that can hold a Glock 19 or 30 and you should be fine. As for fitted holsters, you'll have to wait as there aren't any as of this writing. There are also some you can custom fit out there, but the simpler ones seem to work the best and print less anyway. I've carried this gun everywhere and no one has done so much as toss a frown.

Operating this gun, despite the frame mounted safety, is very straightforward. All you have to do is point the gun, click the safety down, press the bang switch and provided there's a round in the chamber, it makes a noise and a hole. Because this is a double/single action using a hammer, the trigger pull on the first round is about nine pounds and rest are about four. Once you empty the magazine, push the release and push in a full one. All that's needed is to push the slide release and keep shooting in single action. If you don't want to shoot, use the safety to decock it. Unlike some writings saying that you can hold the hammer back and pull the trigger to do the same, I haven't been foolish enough to try. That decocker is there for a reason, so use it and save yourself some embarrassment at least or a lot of sleepless nights at worst. Enough said.

The sights on mine are not unlike those on the fourth generation Glocks, although they're advertised as Sig Sauer type. The goal post setup is a bit controversial, but the sight picture is decent. If you want night sights, try a gunsmith or buy a light for the accessory rail. I usually carry a tactical light anyway, so this isn't a huge concern. Accuracy is decent for a .45 with a three and a half inch barrel, and I managed to keep all but two or three out of the 50 rounds on paper at 20 feet. The rounds I used were Independence (El Cheapo) and had one failure to feed. This could have been my technique, the ammo (as my dad suggested) or even the feed ramp. At any rate, it wasn't a deal-breaker, took just a second to clear out and I was back in action. Even though this gun has some mass, there is a little muzzle flip and it is a bit more than my 9mm Ruger. However, it isn't uncomfortable or unmanageable to shoot. Some shooters have indicated "hammer bite" but I'm more inclined to call it "hammer touch" and this is the hammer being pushed down as the slide is thrown back. It isn't any more than someone lightly touching your hand with their finger, but can be disconcerting for some. My advice as with any semi auto is to keep your mitts where they should be and personally, the slide hurts a helluva lot more. If it bothers you that bad, buy a striker fired pistol.

However, if you're in the market for a good, reasonably priced handgun in a .45 ACP, the Bersa Ultra Comnpact Pro may not look like much, it has it where it counts. It's a tough, sturdy and dependable firearm that's easy to shoot. Parts are relatively inexpensive and easy to get. Bersa also takes care of their customers to the extreme that's unheard of in a lot of products nowadays. It's also the easiest semi auto handgun I've seen to field strip in a long time. Just push the takedown lever and it's practically apart. Getting it back together is only slightly harder. Bersa proves that you don't need to spend a grand on a 1911 (and I like 1911's) to get a good piece in a .45. This gun is worth checking out, and even buying. Maranatha!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hunter 34407 Humidifier Review.

For the past few days, my boys have been getting sick with the drop in temperature. Even though the weather is breaking a bit, my older boy has gotten a bloody nose several times, including yesterday when he had to spend twenty minutes at the school nurse's office. I've got two devices to measure humidity in my trailer, both made by Aprilaire and usually come with a central humidifier, but I got mine courtesy of the salesman. Both were reading about thirty four percent relative humidity, even with the shower in the master bath with no bath fan. It was going to be a trip to the store to get this taken care of, as trailers cannot have a central humidifier due to the duct design. Naturally, my options are limited to a freestanding or maybe a steam one installed. Since I really don't want to mess with plumbing in a mobile home, the free standing was my only option. I went to Menard's to look at one, but the options and the prices were dizzying. You could spend upwards of $199 for one, with the average being well over $70. After nearly a half hour of looking at features, I got the Hunter model 34407 with the night light and the permanent wick. It's made for about 800 square feet, which is on the small side, but has brought the humidity level over forty five percent with ease. The only drawback is filling the thing several times a day, and with my faucet, can be a challenge. However, filling this at the bathtub or using a dustpan to funnel water in makes this a non issue. The tanks locks in very easily with no spillage whatsoever and the night light looks pretty cool through the water in the tank.

The controls are "child-resistant" and take a minute to adjust to. There's a water symbol for the humidity level you want, a fan one for the speed, as well as a timer (don't need it) a power button and one for the light (must be to keep from tripping over it in the night, but we have it on a desk). To change the settings, you need to hold the button until it flashes and press it incrementally each time you want to change it. In the interest of simplicity, these only go up and then start at their lowest level. Once you get used to it, this is not bad. However, the price is about $81, which is what a typical doctor's visit is or a day off work unpaid. If the price seems high, remember that central humidifiers superior as they are, can be upwards of seven times that installed. They will also use more water and in my neck of the woods water is expensive. For the price, this humidifier can't be beat and sure beats the alternative in my house, which is not having one or boiling a pan of water. Maranatha!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Reason to Maintain Your Furnace

Hopefully, this will be a short post. I got a call to Midland today on a furnace where another contractor told the customer the heat exchanger was "pitted" and failing. When I arrived, the customer was in a tizzy and upset that he had to pay to have me come over because his furnace was an Amana. First of all, the furnace was a GUID model, an 80% with a stainless steel heat exchanger. I've installed and worked on hundreds these models nearly two decades and have yet to condemn one. They're pretty bulletproof, so naturally, I was skeptical.
Sure enough, I pulled off the draft inducer and there was some surface corrosion, but this doesn't mean the furnace is junk. A few scrapes with a screwdriver confirmed these were not an issue. What I did find was a mess of corroded metal in the collector box and the customer, now in hysterics, informed me that it was piled   inside until the other contractor "cleaned" it out. I also saw a lot of sulfur inside same, but unless it's plugging the heat exchanger, there's not much concern either. What I do know is that it was running on propane and as we all know, propane is at a higher pressure than natural gas. It needs to be ten inches of water column as opposed to 3.5 inches with natural gas. I got about 6 inches and 180 degrees at the stack. The temperature should be higher; about 350 degrees to be exact and with single wall vent, this will eat it up in short order.
This is likely the metal clogging the collector plate due to the condensation and the "pitting" present in the heat exchanger. I told the customer he needed maintenance, but to no avail.
When you hire someone like me for a second opinion, what's the sense of arguing with me? I do this for a living and have worked on furnaces for 26 years. I don't claim to know much about embalming, or even carpet cleaning, so I call in the pros to do that specific job. Maranatha!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Verdict on the Ruger SR9c

Finally got the gun out to the farm and fired 135 rounds through it. Not one failure to feed, eject, or fire short of the trigger reset being balky. It happily chewed through my cheap Walmart and Dunham's ammo. It also cheerfully ate my old carry ammo, which blew a milk bottle full of water apart with no problem (Hornady Zombie Max is some of the best ammo for the money, but the rounds are light). I did have to adjust the rear sight, and my groups were well within six inches at 21 feet. I'm nobody's shooter, but this gun is more than accurate for what it needs to hopefully never do.
If anything, this should underscore the need to practice regularly with your guns. You don't need to be Quick Draw McGraw, but you do need to be able to bring it out and hit your target with it. You also need to be able to hold it properly so the slide doesn't bash your thumbs when you fire it. In addition, you also need to able to turn off the safety (if you have one) so it goes bang. If there is a malfunction about to happen, annoying as they are, it's far better to have a problem on the range than in a defensive situation. Like it or not, no gun is 100% reliable, even a Glock. Yes, you can buy a revolver, but these aren't failure proof either and have their own trade offs; mainly in reduced round capacity.
Still waiting on the Bersa and what the damages will be. It didn't go to the factory, but to Gander Mountain to get fixed. Considering the repair I just got done on the Ruger, this is in capable hands. As soon as it gets back, I'll do a review. This is an old school hammer fired pistol not unlike the Beretta I traded, but in a .45 caliber. This will be a blast. Maranatha!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Garden Tub Drain Basket Fix

The drain we're working on is pretty straightforward. Rather than messing with a tub shoe and linkage, the garden tub in your average trailer uses a rubber stopper to hold the water in. The chrome basket is pretty durable for the most part, but they won't hold up well to chemical drain cleaners. They'll corrode and fracture; eventually disintegrating and making a mess under the floor. The best time to replace these is before they completely fall apart and you can get a tool on them to screw them out. Unfortunately, by the time we get around to changing it out the insides are too brittle to be of much use. In this article, I'll give you a few ideas you might be able to use. As always, you have control over your work and you alone must decide what to do to fix this right. Take your time, as you can wreck some pretty expensive fixtures if you mess up. Being down one of anything when it comes to plumbing will not endear you to the rest of your family. I will not settle domestic disputes, so do this and all other repairs at your own risk.

My favorite method for getting the basket out is with a pair of pliers stuck into it. The idea is to snag them on anything that will hold the basket to screw it out. I tried this and managed one turn before what was left of the pieces inside broke off. Time for plan "b". Normally, I would get a Dremel and cut it out, but mine was dead on arrival. The next best thing is a metal cutting jigsaw blade to score along the inside of the basket, as well as a flat screwdriver and some painters tape. Take the painters tape and mask off around the drain basket. The idea is protect the finish of the tub. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to line the tub with an old blanket or some cardboard, but you knew that.

Take the screwdriver and CAREFULLY pry up around the basket flange until you can get a pair of pliers underneath. Go ahead and break off as much of that flange as you can , preferably all of it. You should be able to see where the basket threads into the tub shoe or plumbing. Once that's done, take your blade and score straight up and down where the flange is broken off. The idea is to cut through the basket until you reach the shoe, but don't cut through the shoe. I would cut and break this in three spots so you can break out one piece and than other two without damaging the tub or plumbing. You can pry between the basket and the plumbing to work this out without any trouble. If there's any doubt, score the basket a little more and try again. Eventually, you should be rewarded with the basket in several pieces and your tub and plumbing intact. This is a bit tricky to do, but if you take your time can be done relatively easily and inexpensively. It takes me about 30 minutes or so get it out with this method. Installing the new basket is pretty easy and just requires you seal the flange with plumbers putty, screwing it down carefully with the pliers or the appropriate tool. Roll the putty into a "snake" and around the underside of the flange. Tighten it snugly, but don't wreath on it. From now on, don't use any chemical drain cleaner and use a plumbers snake to remove the clogs. This will help insure your drain basket lasts for a couple decades or more. Even if the basket you install is plastic, chemical drain cleaners are NEVER a good idea. You can lose eyes, skin, clothing and the social graces these things afford. If you must, try vinegar and baking soda and then a plunger, graduating to the aforementioned snake. Better yet, try cleaning the screen each time you shower; problem solved. Maranatha! 

Getting Steamed Over Boilers

After crawling in another crawl space for the second time this week, installing a make up air system, I got a call that a boiler would not shut off. To make this harder, the thermostats, all three of them, were replaced a few months ago. The customer complained that it was 78 degrees in her tri level home; hence the three thermostats. The customer ranted (and I can't really blame her) that the thermostats were at fault. However, a professional doesn't have the luxury of replacing parts based on belief. We need good hard evidence that a part is failing. You could get a volt meter out and test for voltage, but try this first...

If there is more than one thermostat on a hot water boiler system, you have a zone system. This means there are multiple loops throughout your home called circuits, only these hold hot water to transfer heat into your home. They are very efficient and reliable and provide years of heat without complaint. Each thermostat controls a zone valve that allows water to flow from the return side of the circuit to the boiler and hot water through the loop. For the most part, these zone valves have a lever or some other means of letting you know they're working. In the case of the Honeywell valves, there is a lever that loses resistance when you push it if power is applied. Water also flows through the pipe and if it gets colder then much hotter, this means the valve is open. If the valve is closed, there will be resistance on the lever opening it. This was the case on all three zones, tested individually. A look at the temperature gauge turned up something interesting, reading 230 degrees on a hot water boiler. The aqua stat on the boiler read about 190, so this was out of calibration a bit. 160 to 180 degrees is good for most boilers and they should be no more than 12 p.s.i. pressure. 

However, why was heat still getting upstairs? Well, the answer finally hit me as I left the driveway after turning down the aqua stat. Heat was getting up through the supply side through the pipes, driving the pressure close to 25 p.s.i. and transferring that heat into the living space. When it gets that hot, heat is going to move from a hotter space to a cooler one. This is another reason to keep your cool, and not jump to conclusions when diagnosing a boiler. Maranatha! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

When It's The Thermostat.

I wished I knew a more creative title for this post, but of the eight calls I had yesterday, this one was a PITA.  The answering service called me and a talk to the tenant and the owner confirmed that something was clicking, the igniter was coming on. I thought it was the gas valve, because it was getting power and bouncing  open and closed. Then the board started issuing a pressure switch error via the blinking light. What a mess. Then I remembered this was a Nordyne furnace and that the pressure switch was basically a call for heat on this design. After removing the Red and White wires from the board with the power off, place a jumper on the white and red terminals on same. Turn on the power to the furnace and if it starts up normally, the problem is in the thermostat. This is because when all the relays in the board are on, if the thermostat is weak, it will turn itself off and cause you to tear your scalp. Remember, before condemning the board, bypass the thermostat first if things are acting erratically. Don't forget to remove those wires first, or you'll cook the thermostat anyway. Also, I'm not picking on any particular product, but there are thermostat models that are cropping up every time I have one of these weird calls. There are more and these are usually consumer installed jobs, but the ones made mention of are usually professionally installed.

I've installed White Rodgers parts, including their thermostats, for years including the ones mentioned above. However, as with any part, their service life is limited. With the WR 850 digital, I've installed several hundred of these in the 1990's and now a few are starting to fail. These start out as white, but yellow with age. This one should be replaced if it's over 10 years old.
Another one that seems to break down is the WR 1F78. I've already replaced several of these because they won't allow the fan to come on during the cooling mode. This causes the coil to freeze up. Really, any thermostat of any brand using AAA batteries should not be used because the failure rate is higher than those using AA's. I'm at a loss to explain this, but experience proves this out. Again, this isn't to pick on White Rodgers because they make great products.
Another one that's starting to show its age is the Honeywell CT3200 Magic Stat. I've found lots of issues with these ones, especially the doors breaking off and the electronics acting goofy. I had one of these brand-new in my last house and took it off and installed a Honeywell T87. I now use an Aprilaire 8366 after repairing the buttons with glue. Take my advice for what it is, and if you want to buy a thermostat from a store, you get what you pay for. If your thermostat is over ten years old, bite the bullet and replace it. None will last forever. Maranatha!

Problem With The Ruger SR9c

This post isn't to debate whether or not people should be allowed to carry, possess, or otherwise own or use guns in any capacity. It is agreed that guns are dangerous by their nature. Always treat every gun as if it were loaded! Never point any gun at something or someone you do not intend to destroy. If for some inexplicable reason that the gun goes off, this may make the difference between an embarrassment and a tragedy. Always use safeties as one line of defense, but never as the only line of defense against a negligent discharge. Geez Louise, this is a lot of mumbo jumbo; oh well...
This weekend, I got a Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact Pro in a .45 caliber and this gun is used. I knew it had an issue with the magazine release and was expecting it fixed, but it was not. No problem as I still took the gun in to be sent to Bersa for repair. As long as this is fixed, I have a pretty nice deal on a .45 that shoots real well and accurately. I've fired it, but not enough for a review. The magazine release is sporadic and this is embarrassing on the range and a funeral waiting to happen in a fight. Stay tuned, and I will review the aftermath on Bersa's service at a later date.

Went to take the Ruger out for carrying, and to be honest I haven't in a couple days. When I went to take the lock out of it the roll pin for the extractor fell out, rendering the gun a paperweight with both the extractor spring and pin on the floor. On the Ruger SR9c, the extractor is about an inch and a half long, and pivots on a roll pin with a spring on the back end of the slide. When this extractor is disabled, there is no way to remove empty cartridges from the barrel. What got me is that this pin is made of material about a hundredth of an inch thick, and there was some distortion on same. I know I could put this back in the slide and called it good, but the hole it went into also looked out of round. I am not a gunsmith, although it's looking more and more like the trade to get into. Either way, my life and that of family depends on these working flawlessly.

I got my SR9c back from Gander Mountain yesterday 10/18/12 and will fire some more rounds through it Sunday to make sure this thing is fixed. The smith re-installed the pin after some adjustments to same. I've heard stories about Ruger replacing the slide in it's entirety, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. The Bersa is on its way to Grand Rapids as the manufacturer is not going to warranty the gun. As long as their quote isn't more than the price of what I was going to pay for it to begin with, no problem. If it is, not a huge deal either. I'll post more on this later. Maranatha!

De-Mystifying Fan Centers

Last night, this fix it man worked from 7:30 in the morning until 10:00 at night and part of this was helping a coworker wire up a fan center on an older Ruud horizontal furnace. I also had quite the time rewiring a fan center another contractor attempted to wire on an oil furnace. The last time I worked on an oil furnace, Reagan was president, but fan centers are still very much with us as many choose to hold on to older equipment. Usually, this is out of economic necessity rather than being a full fledged cheapskate; to have air conditioning with same still requires it.

A fan center to the casual eye is a metal plate with a transformer, a tangle of wires and a relay; nothing more. There are two wires that feed from the coil part of the relay to the green and C or common terminals on the transformer and anywhere from 5 to 8 more wires not hooked to anything out of the box. The best thing to do is take a deep breath and segregate the wires. There's a white and a black wire that go to the transformer. These need to be hooked directly to the switch on the handy box. There are two low voltage wires that activate the relay. On is on the "G" and the other on the "C" terminal: leave these be.

As for the wires to the blower on the relay, you have to remember that all this is likely a single pole, double throw relay, or a double pole, double throw relay. You will have a wire going in to power the blower from the handy box. Assuming that the blower has multiple speeds, you will need one for heating and one for cooling. Usually, the red wire off the blower is the one for cooling and the black one is for cooling, as the red is low speed and the black is high. The white or neutral wire is connected to the other neutral wires. Since the fan limit control is controlling the blower on the heating cycle, that one will need to go to the normally closed terminal on the relay. This is marked by an equal sign with a line going through it. Because the fan on the cooling cycle is controlled by the thermostat, and the relay, you will need to wire this to the normally open terminal on the relay. The symbol for this is like an equal sign. If wired correctly, the electricity will have a path when a call for heat or cooling is made. Maranatha!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some Friendly Footwear Advice

For the past three months, my general condition has been going downhill faster than a grease covered toboggan. My back, knees, hips, everything hurt to the point that getting back and forth to the truck was getting to be misery. I'm 42 years old and while I've worked my butt off, and kicking same, I don't need to be hobbling along like a 92 year old. For crying out loud, there were men twice my age with walkers outrunning me. Then I took a look at my shoes.

From 2001 to about 2006, I wore Knapp shoes almost exclusively. In fact I wouldn't wear another brand. They provided the best foot, leg and back support of anything out there. The only drawback was that they wore out after about six months to a year. However, I would buy two pairs and rotate them back and forth. As long as I didn't keep them over a year, the soles wore like iron. Much past that, they disintegrated. Then a sad thing happened. Knapp moved their production to China from Penn Yan, NY and their customer service suffered, not to mention their products did as well. I've worn an 11EEE since I was 12 and they shipped me something labelled that, but in reality was a size 9. After paying to return ship a pair of $120 shoes that didn't fit, I never went back. Problem was, I tried cheap shoes and some not so cheap shoes. Some did well and others like the last pair, horribly. This isn't to knock the shoes. I paid $40 for them about 3 months ago and for their purpose they work reasonably well. If your job is working in an office, walking to the water cooler or copier to your cubicle to the car these are more than fine.

The problem is I am not your typical working stiff (not that my job is any more important). I drive from job to job, walk through grass, pavement, crawl spaces through dirt and concrete. As an added bonus, I also spend upwards of 3 to 4 hours a day on my knees and my toes touch the concrete, dirt or whatever floor surface in front of the equipment. As a result, the uppers were trashed and because of my walking with equipment, climbing ladders, stairs, ships steps, etc, the linings were also jacked as well, even though the out soles showed almost no wear. With all of that, the out sole on the left shoe managed to start working loose at the toe. The heel support was also gone, making it almost better if I didn't wear shoes at all. Even the out sole on the upper was starting to peel away on the right shoe. These ones were jacked, and so was my frame from raising and lowering my feet thousands of times a day for three months. 

So what am I supposed to do? I can't wear work boots, as these can track dirt on the carpets in a customer's home (even with the carpet protectors). My employer also mandates black shoes for the job and they can't be tennis shoes. I can live with that. The guy signs my checks and the customer makes sure we're all taken care of. Rules are made to be followed, not broken. I went to a place at the Lansing Mall called Tradehome and they sell shoes, socks and other footwear accessories. They will up sell you and to me that's just fine, as this is what customer service is all about. The gentleman there got me several pairs of shoes to try on, including Nikes (I declined those) and three other pairs. One was a pair of dress shoes, one casual and the third , (even though they were 1 1/2 times expensive as the first two) were a pair of Keen Hybrid Briggs II in a full grain black. The moment I walked in these, my pain went away. They have a sole that covers the toe, and a light but sturdy construction. These are "city streets" shoes according to their website, but I have worn them before and they last a year easily before they start to fall apart. 

My advice is this: cheap shoes are not worth it. They don't last as long, nor will they be comfortable for more than a few weeks. This can have devastating consequences on your general health and well being, not to mention your mood. Department stores over the past 40 years have been cutting back their help and expertise in every department. This is so much so that any rank and file person can run any department. In theory, this should at least save money. However, the prices on shoes have gone up and their product quality is questionable. They don't need to stock the best as though their reputation depended on it, because even if they lose customers, the other departments will take up the slack. 

Go to a shoe store and buy from a shoes store that has customer service. Yes, they will up sell you. This is their job and you will enjoy your experience a lot more as this up selling is also making you aware of what's out there. If i can buy a product that will help me out, or one that will work better, I'm all for it. I don't get paid to endorse any products or providers. With this in mind, I recommend Tradehome for all your footwear needs and by all means, give Keen a look and your business, you will thank you. Maranatha! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More Things Your Home Comfort Professional Won't Tell You.

  1. Good technicians don't mind you, as the customer, looking over their shoulder. In my business, this is expected and easier than trying to find you.  
  2. Outdoor units need to be accessible and this means trimming back those rosebushes. 
  3. So you think it's outrageous for me to charge extra to navigate your crawl space or attic? It adds more time to the job than you think. 
  4. If you're calling for service, please clean up the area around your furnace and make sure the front is accessible. If not, don't expect me to fix it. (Redundant I know, but still important). 
  5. I can tell if you're going to price shop, so don't expect me to waste my time on you if you are. 
  6. I don't care if you were a pipe fitter, a building manager, or a bottle washer for the Queen, so please don't try intimidating me with your vast knowledge.  You called me to be the professional, so let me do my job or call someone else. 
  7. If you're expecting me and I call, please be ready and answer your phone and the door when I knock. Most of us won't use the doorbell out of consideration for your family. Time is important to both of us. 

Ruger SR9c Review, Part 2

As always, I'm going to keep pictures to a minimum. After getting the gun home and turning in my paperwork to the police, the officer at the desk asked me what I got. He said it was good gun and made mention something about the government and Beretta that I didn't quite get. As with any new firearm, I field strip it and lubricate it, as the factory lubricants are non existent. The slide pull is quite substantial at 16 pounds, but even with my arthritis is more than doable. Unless the safety is off, you aren't pulling it anywhere. Transitioning from the PX4, the slide lock doesn't automatically release the slide. You have to pull back to release the slide lock to get it forward; not a big deal. The manual safety is very easy to operate with your thumb and like most U.S. made pistols, goes down for fire and up for lock.

Taking the pistol apart to field strip it requires a pencil or snap cap. You have to pull back the slide and push up on the lock, push down on a lever inside the ejection port and then push out the take-down pin. You can use your finger for these, but a pencil will be much more convenient and in the case of the slide, much safer. Putting it back together requires some finesse. You put the slide back on from the muzzle, pull back, engage the lock and install the take-down pin. You will also need to push that lever back before closing the slide or will not be able to operate your gun. It's a learning curve, but not a deal breaker by any means. I use Rem Oil and Tetra Gun Grease on mine, but other lubricants work fine. Read the instructions and you can't go wrong.

As for ease of carrying, I had no issue with carrying and no one made mention of any bulges under my shirt in an in the pants holster. For sure, there's the crowd who believes that a gun should be comforting and not comfortable. I take issue with that. First of all, there's no comfort in having to shoot anyone regardless of how justified you are. For most of us, the uncomfortable or hard to use piece is the one we won't carry. This great if you can afford more than one gun (and the more, the merrier), but for most of us we only have one gun. With that under consideration we need to have something that won't relegate us to wearing a hoodie or carrying a fanny pack, or even worse, a handbag. The SR9c is very concealable this side of nudist colony without being a pocket gun. With the rounded edges (Ruger did their homework on this one) it won't print under a shirt like the Sunday edition. Part 3, Lord willing, will be about how it shoots on the range. Maranatha!

Ruger SR9c Review Part One

After much soul searching and a conversation with my dad, I elected to trade in the PX4 for a new gun. The problem was that the gun, capable as it was did not meet my needs and in fact was a pain to concealed carry. Initially, I considered buying a pocket gun in a .380, but this is trading one situation for another. Pocket guns, though all the rage right now, are also a compromise in accuracy and in the case of .380 ammunition are more expensive and have less stopping power than a 9mm Luger. My hands are on the large side, making getting a handle on 12 ounces of steel and plastic trying to jump out a challenge. I've fired a Walther PPK in a .380 and know what I'm talking about. These kick more than an appropriately sized (for my mitts) .45. Pocket pistols, because of their cost factor, do not usually include an extra magazine. In the 9mm I was considering (A Ruger Lc9) that magazine was $50 for a $400 gun. Not a good deal in my book.

I also considered a Taurus Millennium 111(9mm), a Taurus TCP (.380) and a Ruger LCP (also .380). I didn't consider Kel Tec, Sig Sauer, Smith and Wesson, or Glock because of their high (in the case of the Sig, astronomical) cost. These are good guns and to those who own, enjoy and protect themselves with them more power to you. However, I never wore Jordache as a kid and today make things last as long as I can. A gun to someone like me is like any other tool, and I look for attributes more than a name brand. In spite of my literature teacher, here's a list in no order.
1. Made in the United States is a huge plus.
2. A good reputation among users and experts alike. (Beretta has issues lately, including the police officer who I turned my paperwork to had a lot to say).
3. A manual safety is very important, as are passive safeties, a trigger safety, and for the bunny huggers, a magazine disconnect.
4. A striker fired, rather than a hammer fired system (the trigger reset on the PX4, being a SA/DA was terrible and didn't always allow the hammer to fire. This could get you killed in a firefight.)
5. A stainless steel slide and barrel.
6. Easy to field strip and maintain (the PX4 excelled at this).
7. Weighs less than 2 pounds loaded (PX4 was well over two pounds).
8. Easy availability and low price of accessories (this was a huge sticking point with the Beretta, as they only deal with one wholesaler for volume sales.)
9. Easy to find holsters for, and in my case able to use the ones I have
10. Something I don't have to sell my first born to get.
11. Easy to conceal without a shoulder holster, without protrusions or sharp edges (the safety levers on the PX4 are razor sharp at the tip and drew blood when I pulled back the slide to qualify for my CPL).
12. Accurate and durable.(the Beretta was accurate, but the plastic feed ramp raised concerns).
13. Good looks don't hurt either. (the Beretta was a looker)
The Ruger SR9c is made in Prescott Arizona, and though less than 70 years, had a good reputation for low cost firearms of high quality. They've had their issues for sure, but seem to have taken care of them. The SR9c is packed with safety features, including all the passive safeties, a loaded chamber indicator, magazine lockout, trigger safety and a manual safety. It is striker fired with a consistent 5 pound trigger pull and reset. Unlike the Beretta I traded, the SR9c has a stainless steel slide and barrel and a lower center. Field stripping it is a little more complicated and requires a pen or snap cap. I figured it out in about five minutes reading the manual though. With the ten round magazine loaded, it weighs 1 3/4 pounds (I would use this one on the gun) and about 2 pounds with the 17 round one. Even with the 17 round, there are no sharp edges to print through clothes. Magazines are cheap at about $30 to $35 apiece with shipping as is the price of the gun. List price is $500, but I got mine before trade for $430 at Gander Mountain (my final price is none of your business). I'll continue with part 2. Maranatha!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meg-ohmmeter Basics. (Techs Only)

So what is a meg-ohmmeter? Only the most awesome piece of equipment the Good Lord allowed air-conditioning techs to possess. Besides the manifold gauge and the multimeter, this is one tool that should go on every air conditioner call. You can spend anywhere from $89 to in excess of $5000 for one of these. However, for residential applications, the hand held Supco M500 is adequate for the job at hand. "At hand?" you ask, I've put the cart before the horse. My bad. 

A residential air-conditioning system, minus furnace or air handler has 3 main parts. Those are the evaporator, the condenser, and the line-set. The evaporator, or "A" coil lives over the furnace or air handler and picks up the heat from your domicile. The line-set carries the refrigerant (which also carries the heat) to the condenser. The condenser also houses the outdoor coil, fan assembly, a switch, capacitor or two, as well as the pump to move the refrigerant. This pump is called the compressor, and it not only moves the refrigerant around, it also moves oil around in an effort to keep itself cool and wear free as possible. If the oil becomes contaminated from moisture, the result is that it may form an acid. This sounds ominous, and it is. 

There are three windings on a compressor: start, run and common. All of them need to be insulated from ground to allow it to run through the bath of oil it's in, or it will trip the breaker or blow the fuses. Acid attacks the insulation on these wires and allows them to ground out. The condition of this insulation is measured in Meg-ohms and measured with a meg-ohmmeter. The lower the number, the poorer the insulation and more likely the compressor will fail. 

Again, you can spend a lot of money on one, but these are difficult to read and even harder for the customer to understand. I am shamelessly endorsing the Supco M500 for its compactness and ease of use. At about $125, it's fairly inexpensive. The leads are stored inside the meter and it has a soft case. It fits in a tool bag with no problem, so it's ready when you need it. You can hook this up to the compressor lugs, one at a time with the black on a convenient ground. To measure, push the button and read the scale. If one of the green L.E.D.s lights up, the compressor passes the test. This doesn't mean the compressor is "good" but that you need to investigate further. If the one of the yellow L.E.D.s light up, the compressor is failing. If the red light is on, the compressor is junk. 

An alternative to tearing the condenser apart to reach the lugs is to use the wires and ground to the frame. You also have the added benefit of not breaking off one of the lugs trying to get the leads off. If you're unfortunate enough to do this, it's "bye bye compressor". 

The meg-ohmmeter is a useful and necessary tool in evaluating and diagnosing compressor failure. With the price of equipment today, customers demand accuracy as few are willing to pay for maybes. Even on 20+ year old equipment that needs to be replaced, most want to wait it out a year or two. A meg-ohmmeter is essential in reinforcing your argument to replace, or repair the equipment. It also helps provide you, your employer and the customer peace of mind. With all of this to consider, you can't afford to not have this in your tool bag. Maranatha! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2004 Buick Rendezvous Long Term "Test" Part One.

Call me a wiseacre, but this is in response to those long term tests from car reviewers reviewing late model cars. The prolonged recession, as well as the fact this madman isn't making a lot of money from blogging necessitates the need to review what he already has. Surely, most of my readers, or a tiny fraction of 1/100th of 1% can agree that new cars are probably out of reach anyway. Besides, the worst car you can have is one with a payment book. This is going to have all the flash of a professional review and 0% of the hyperbole . The Buick Rendezvous was GM's answer to the Lexus RX series plain and simple, and aimed to the professional woman from her late thirties to late fifties. In my line of work, she would be called a "Debra" and she would have little automotive knowledge. From the console that can hold a purse underneath, a compartment large enough to hold a laptop computer, as well as an overhead bin and Homelink controls, this vehicle was as purpose built a passenger truck available. The Rendezvous was also the first truck under the Buick brand in decades, but truck like it is not. The sloping third quarter windows ape the RX as does the side view to some extent.
However, because this is a shortened minivan platform, the roof is much higher compared to the wheelbase than the RX is and can have a third row of seats if so ordered. The taillights and niche for the number plate seem higher than the headlights, giving the truck a weird downhill look to it. It also looks not unlike the Buick LeSabre's rear, which looks great. On the Rendezvous, it looks a bit unimaginative and doesn't belong. The front view is innocuous enough, and the composite headlights and front grille are all Buick and look handsome. The mirrors are some of the largest on any vehicle of its size, but are fabulous for towing a trailer. Unlike many contemporary vehicles GM has tried body cladding on, it got it right on the Rendezvous. The wheels on most of these are also very pleasing, but mine are plain and have aftermarket covers.
Inside, the driving position is very adjustable. You can raise or lower the seat, as well as front and back and there is a lumbar support on both driver and passenger seats. Mine doesn't have power on either seat, nor warmers, but this is a plus as it is one less thing to try and fix. What is not a plus is the material these seats are made of. It reminds the writer of an old mattress and unless you are very careful cleaning it, it will show water stains like same. With over 150,000 on mine, the driver's seat has about had it; even with an aftermarket cover.  The instruments are clear and easy to get at, but blue and silver gauges are a nightmare to read in the daytime when the lights are on. The numbers are just the right hue and brightness to make them unreadable at the top. The only way to cure this is to dim or shut off the lights to the cluster. 2005 and later models got a better, less avant garde' design. However this is no consolation to those stuck with a 2004 or earlier and there are no aftermarket skins available for this one either. If so inclined I may take a cluster out of an Aztek or later model Rendezvous and run with it.
Compared to many newer cars and trucks, the interior is almost 1990's in both function and form. There is now rhyme or reason to where the radio, heater, as well as the rear wiper and traction control live. The headlight switch lives in the usual spot and the ignition lock is where is had been on GM cars since the 1970's. The cruise control is also a throwback as is the front wiper control. These were a staple on 1970's GM products and alive and well on this 2004. Even with a huge console the shift lever is on the steering column as is the parking brake. In all fairness, there would be no room for either. It also makes reaching for the glove compartment an exercise in futility. I use the visor for my auto papers and keep precious little in that compartment as a result.
I wished time and again this model had a third row of seats, as well as place to put a full sized spare. Since the tire winch failed last year, I've resorted to putting the compact spare in the cargo area and since I pull a trailer with this beast, I pray that I don't get a flat. The compact spare would be dangerous trying to hold up the weight of same at anything more than a crawl. Because of safety issues of using plugs or sealers on a flat tire, this is not a great option either. Part of the problem is the rear suspension that limits clearance as well as the short length of the rear end. Eventually, if I keep this vehicle long enough I'll devise a way to put a full size spare on the inside rear quarter. That shouldn't be too tough. Maranatha!

Bissell PowerForce(TM) Compact Vacuum Cleaner Review.

A week ago, with the carpet a mess, we decided to give this one a try. This was because our canister vacuum was not up to the task of keeping up with two boys eating all over the place. Some of this is going to require a professional cleaning of course, but any vacuum should be able to pick up dirt in an average sized house without losing suction within ten seconds. Since I'm not making a lot of money blogging, i.e. nil, none, zip, zilch, spending $300 to $500 on a Dyson is out of the question. I found this beauty at Walmart last Friday with my wife and in spite of myself, we got the purple one. The cost with tax was about $37. What you get is a very basic, no frills vacuum cleaner for this price. The cleaning path is very narrow and the hose is so short that sometimes it pops out of the cleaning head. The only attachment included is a crevice tool.
Again, there are no lights, no adjustments, no dirt finders, and no frills with this cleaner, only the basics. The cord is very short and necessitates unplugging even halfway across the room of my humble abode. An extension cord, which I have plenty of, would fix this easily of course. However if you're looking for this out of the box this is not your vacuum. What I do like and appreciate from any Bissell product including this one is the value. This one can clean better than vacuum several times the price with ease. At only 11 pounds, this weighs just three pounds more than a gallon of milk and is much easier to wield, even with the fixed wheels. Even though you have to make multiple passes with it, it's still easier than lugging a 20 pound vacuum around. Considering I have arthritis and tendinitis this is a huge blessing. One issue I'm not enthralled about is that the handle wants to move when you pull it back. As an amateur engineer, I want things like handles to stay put. A spot of Goop will cure this as I use it for any adhesive needs. I've fixed door handles and even a seal cushion with the stuff and it has never failed, but I digress.
If you're looking for a good, cheap vacuum that actually cleans, look no further than the Bissell PowerForce Compact. Maranatha!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Taking a CPL Class.

Went to Not Just Guns last Saturday to take the course for concealed carry, looked at a few guns (including a Beretta PX4 Subcompact in a 9mm) as well as a few other brands. Listened to a lot of legalese, and a self defense instructor, and cut my pinkie getting blood all over my gun. I aced the test (which was more common sense) and got my certificate. In a few weeks, maybe months, I'll go ahead and get my application filled out. One thing I learned is that my hands are bigger than I thought. The result was changing the backstrap on the Beretta as well as cleaning it out. It was about as high stress as it got and hopefully will ever get.
I want to thank Brymer and Not Just Guns for their due diligence and instruction. They were a big help.

Follow Your Nose.

Oh my goodness it is a hot one today; 93 degrees. Between stepping in dog poo, having ants crawling over me and my tools while cooking in sweat, UGH!  Just as I thought there was an end to the day, another call comes up. This one was had a system freezing up. The homeowner suggested that it could be leaking Freon because of this. Since this was a call for the local utility; they had a service contract with same, they wouldn't cover a leak search or a recharge. I drove over and met the homeowner, a tall, thin and rather cheerful man in his sixties. He followed me as I went to the furnace, the coil, and the condensing unit outside. Both the furnace and the air-conditioner were thirty five years old, but the charge was perfect and I could see Freon in the sight glass (no fooling, many of these had sight glasses and this was a throwback to when air conditioning was set up like refrigeration back in the day). Not only that, the blower wheel and coil were clean top and bottom, the filter was new, and since the furnace had no secondary, this wasn't the issue either. I also noted that the blower motor was fairly new and the air flow was fine. All the registers and returns were open as well. So why was the coil freezing up?
Because this was an older furnace, it used a fan center instead of a control board, but this was also in perfect working order. Remembering that the thermostat activates the blower during a cooling call, I went up to investigate. Pulling off the cover, I smelled the electronics inside and got kind of a sickly sweet burning smell. This is not unlike the odor you get when a contactor, which is inside a condensing unit quits on the low voltage, 24 volt side. If your air is freezing up and you smell this inside your electronic thermostat, this is worth looking into. My suggestion is not to fix this yourself, as I get at least two or three calls a month where a homeowner botched a thermostat install. These can get expensive in a hurry, more so than if you just called me in the first place. Another thing to think about is most, but all thermostats sold in the home center are going to be less durable, less user friendly and likely will use AAA batteries, which is also a longevity issue in my experience. The one I removed was a AAA battery thermostat. Yes, the utility covered it. Maranatha!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tailgate Release Fix for Buick Rendezvous

Tailgate release switch. 
I apologize for not having more than this for a picture, as there is no fix for my camera and trying to do a step by step with pictures is more of a pain anyway. Just visualize what you need to do and the rest should fall into place. If you have a Rendezvous or Aztek, this should take you less than an hour. If you're an Equinox or Torrent person, I don't know the procedure, but the times should be similar (I did the 'Vous on the fly anyway). Haynes has a repair manual for you ladies and gentlemen anyway, so go buy one. Those with a Rendezvous or Aztek either have to subscribe to Alldata every year, or fix stuff on the fly. As always, I have no control over the quality of your work, nor the condition of your equipment, nor your mechanical ability. When in doubt, hire a competent mechanic to perform the work. Perform this and all other repairs at your own risk.

The switch itself is only about 30 dollars U.S. as of this writing from the dealer and you can get them cheaper online. However, when you're broke and payday is a week away, or you're cheap there is another way to fix  it for next to nothing. You'll need some silicone caulk or some electrical tape, a set of Torx bits and some Phillips ones as well. A small flat head screwdriver, and a pair of tweezers are also necessary. 

The switch lives underneath the handle on the tailgate. The touch pad closes a circuit and sends a signal to the body control module to open the latch. The result being you have access to your stuff. If this switch fails, you better have remote handy or you'll be taking this to a mechanic or crawling in the back to pry out a plug to operate the release. I imagine you could reach the two Torx screws holding this switch pretty easily, but I went ahead and removed the plastic body panel under the handle anyway. All you do is remove the Torx screws out from underneath and carefully work the panel from the gate. The top edge is head on by those molded in clips; DO NOT BREAK THEM or you'll have to glue this top edge in. I used a reasonable amount of care with mine and had no problem. 

You'll have to go underneath the handle and remove the Torx screws holding the switch in. Remove and look at it before you disconnect same. The neck of this should be black with no corrosion or soft spots. Also take not of how the wires on the electrical connector are hooked in. There is a black wire and a white wire. Remove the switch from the connector and look inside where it hooked up. There will be three pins inside. If you have an ohmmeter, or self-powered test light, use some alligator clips and hook it up to the to pins right next to each other. Press the touch pad and the light should light, or the meter should go to  zero. If not, try moving leads to other pins and repeat. If it works, you can save the switch. If not, you're going to have to replace it. 

If you've determined that you can save the part, you'll want to take note of which pins work and scrape out the gel from the neck of the switch. The problem with this switch is that the gel deteriorates and wherever there is salt being used, it gets into same and eats up the pins inside. One will likely be eaten up if the switch failed, but if the others are still in good shape, you can seal this with silicone and let it cure. Take the plastic clips off the connector and now you can move the leads where you need them to go. That red rubber plug in same is worth saving, so move it to the abandoned space. Push in the wires and reassemble the connector. Plug in the switch, make sure the doors are unlocked and squeeze the switch. The latch should unlock. Put the gate back together and you're done. Maranatha! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

In Response to Chris Hansen Dateline Air Conditioner Repair

The show was aired more than a few years ago, but I just ran across this on You Tube yesterday. Here are the links: Dateline AC Repair and Dateline AC Repair 2 and both are from account PrecisionAirHeatAZ on You Tube. My opinions might not reflect those of the account mentioned. One thing we should all agree on is that we need integrity and accountability in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning industry; any industry for that matter. I agree that technicians shouldn't gouge customers nor should they look to replace parts that don't need replacing. What I do take these shows to task over is that EVERY contractor out there is going to REQUIRE his or her techs to "up sell" to some degree. The honest way is to look for anything that might be breaking down and this should, but doesn't always include putting gauges on the equipment to check the refrigerant charge.

Let's just say for an instant that the contractor who did the "right" thing and plugged in the fuses got a call back saying that her air conditioner quit working. It happens a lot more than you think. I've went on many a job to fix one problem on a 20+ year old system only to have another part call it quits a week later. The customers are not usually happy that you intended to save them money, because the unit quit working again. If this happens you can bet that technician is going to be hauled to the carpet for a scolding. If the customer calls another contractor, that contractor is duty bound to refute what the first one said to get the work. This happens all the time; it's a damned if you and damned if you don't scenario. You can have 30 good reports but the three bad ones will be those the boss takes the time to bring to your attention.

If a customer gets put off with the pricing structure of the firm, that customer will call a competitor in getting the bare minimum done. The next thing that will happen is the customer will call, write and bad mouth the first technician. The price of a service call doesn't cover the cost to get the truck to the door. Neither does the price of a tune up or inspection. Accuse all you want, but most would never have the service done if a service call was $200 to $300, much less a tune up. Firms train their techs to find problems and suggest to the customer to get them fixed. This is how the bills are paid. Since many firms warranty their work for the duration of the season, that unit needs to run, or the firm needs an "out" if the customer fails to have the work done. Otherwise, that tech will look like he or she didn't do the job, or likely messed up something due to their perceived incompetence (or even sabotaged same). The firm will lose money on these calls.

In all fairness, no one wants a salesman in their house. My wife and I had to throw a gentleman out of our house 15 years ago because he was insistent that we buy a $1500 vacuum cleaner. I wouldn't want my wife being confronted with a technician giving her an estimate for $1900 worth of work on a 20 year old air conditioner, nor trying to push a new one on her either. As for the tech that didn't even look at the fuses, shame on him. The proper thing to do to go to the thermostat first and make sure it's calling for cooling. If something isn't running at all, then look for the obvious. If it's just a switch, then check to make sure the unit is running correctly. If they don't ask, write it down, let the customer sign the invoice and collect for the service call. If they decline the repairs and their air conditioner dies; no warranty. If the repairs are going to be more than $5 or $600, then suggest this could be a good down payment on a new system. Easy as that. Just give them the facts and let the customer decide. They're the boss.

If you're a customer needing work done and trust the tech to do the work, ask him or her the price. If the price seems high to you, tell them you need to wait and get another estimate. Don't haggle (at least in the United States), beat him or her up on the price, or complain to the owner that the tech did you wrong. First of all, it isn't the techs fault the prices are "so high" but what the owner has determined has to be for the business to run. These techs deserve to be paid a lot more than what they make. Not to excuse poor customer service, but anyone can find anything wrong about someone to ruin that person's career. That person likely has a family to feed and bills to pay, regardless of what you think about them and their work. Think about what they did and how you handled it before you complain. Nobody deserves to lose their job over a misunderstanding. Aren't the unemployment roles swollen enough? Maranatha!

G.E. Water Heater Fix.

First of all, I like General Electric products for the most part save their televisions as we bought one in 1994 and it lasted 2 and a half years, but oh well. If you have to have a home center rather than a plumbing or heating contractor install one, these are well made and will give you a decent service life. Today, I was called to one where the pilot burner had been going out. You see, they had replaced this water heater a month ago and the pilot had been going out, so the home center just had the installers replace the water heater, again. The replacement, two week old water heater was also having issues with the pilot burner staying on. I checked the venting, which my boss insisted was the problem as did G.E.'s tech support. After nearly 30 minutes of trying to get the venting to backdraft, I placed a call to a coworker who suggested I test the thermocouple.
To test the thermocouple, you need a 3/8 inch open end wrench and a volt meter that tests millivolts. A thermocouple should test in at 30 millivolts which this one did. The one thing that I did find was that it was very loose inside the gas control, which would cause the problem that the customer (who was at his wits end) described. 
I tightened the thermocouple into the gas control snugly with the wrench and lit the water heater. So far, so good. If this is happening to you new G.E. water heater, give this a try. Maranatha! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Winchester Model 140 Review?

Today, I put another payment on my layaway for a "new" deer hunting gun and decided to check it out again and do some more research on same. This is what I found. The gun is light, well made and easy to operate. However, for deer hunting this is not a good choice as the capacity is limited to 2 rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. No, this isn't due to a "bird plug" but due to the design of the gun. Although there are great arguments to say that if you can't hit anything in three rounds, I've seen animals get right back up again and run after being hit, so 5 or 6 rounds isn't excessive by a long shot, (no pun intended).  If you're hunting waterfowl, than this shouldn't apply to you because of the regulations on higher capacity magazines for same.

I went back to the drawing board and put a Mossberg 500 with a cantilevered, rifled barrel and scope  more suited to my needs. Not to mention I have a shot barrel with a C-lect choke that will fit this gun nicely. Even brand-new, this one cost only a little more than the Winchester and has a lot more options and accessories available for same. It also has composite furniture and is very easy to take apart and maintain. Not crazy about the trigger group, but all in all a very capable firearm. I look forward to actually getting this thing out and will write a review on same. Maranatha!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bathtub Drain Fix

It was a hot, hot week and the air conditioners were dropping like flies. I was able to fix all of them save for one with a bad leak, which is getting a sales appointment. As I sit here drinking a Malta Goya and contemplating the rest of the weekend; rest assured one fix is done that was a year in the making. I finally got the bathtub drain done and spent a total of $12 and some change on the project. The only thing I needed were a metal cutting reciprocating saw blade, a straight blade screwdriver, needle nose pliers, some plumber's putty, a drain kit and some patience. Drain cleaners did this one in and I waited until it was practically crumbing to replace it. In reality, this wasn't a real good idea, as a basket that's deteriorated can really hurt someone. Mine was almost big enough for my four year old to get his hand into. Because there were still pieces of the strainer support left on the basket, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that he could really come to grief. The result would be a trip to the emergency department and a ruined tub; a traumatic and expensive occurrence best left outside of reality. My fix is spending as little money as possible to get the job done and not break the tub or shoe in the process. You can buy special tools to spin out the basket, or a Dremel to cut it out, but both are expensive and in the case of the Dremel you will go through several cutting wheels getting this out. Be careful with this as you can break expensive and hard to deal with parts if you get in a hurry. Tubs can be upwards of several thousand dollars to install and can cause a lot of friction on the home front. Be good to your significant other and clean up your mess when you're finished.

If the basket isn't too rotted out from Drano you can use the pliers' jaws stuck through the basket to spin it out. However, it's likely that by the time it's replaced, the basket will be rotted out to the point this is impossible. Go ahead and try to loosen in and if the supports break, they break. If the rest of the basket isn't too bad, you can let it go and use a Flip it to hold off the inevitable. Again, if the basket's really bad, better go ahead with the next step. Find the weakest spot on the basket flange and pry this up from the tub with a screwdriver. If you have a porcelain tub, use some masking tape around the basket. This should leave you with the flange off and the rest of the basket stuck in the tub shoe. No reason to panic, but this is where your patience kicks in. Use the metal blade in a manual handle (do not use a power saw) to cut 2 or 3 vertical lines in the basket and use the screwdriver and pliers to carefully peel the pieces from the shoe without damaging same. The shoe should stay up next to the tub if supported properly, but don't count on it. If all goes well, follow the directions on the basket kit and screw it into the tub shoe with the pliers inside the basket. If you have a fiberglass or porcelain tub, use plumbers putty rolled into a snake under the basket flange to seal it. If your tub is plastic or marble, use a good silicone caulk or rubber gasket. Make sure the gasket between the shoe and tub is still useable. Tighten the basket snugly, but don't wreath on it or you'll break the shoe, basket or tub and this will ruin your weekend. Put the rest of the basket together, clean the tub and you're done. Maranatha!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quick Fix: Finding the Control Wire to the Condensor

Went to a job yesterday where one of my coworkers removed a blower assembly on a Luxaire 90% efficient furnace. My job was to replace the blower wheel and get the furnace back together and running. As with nearly any furnace newer than 20 years, all the wires to the thermostat, humidifier, and the air conditioning condenser hook up to a control board IN the blower compartment. My problem was that the wires to the condenser and humidifier are exactly alike. Both are small and have a red and a white wire. So how do you tell? The wires should have been labeled, but the trick to finding the correct wire is with an ohmmeter and with the humidifier shut off (if it's a manually controlled one, or unhook them from the humidistat). Ohm out the two wires, and the ones that register zero are probably the ones to the condenser, since these energize the coil to the contactor.

This will work for about 99% of the air-conditioning systems out there. If the unit has a control board outside, or the humidifier control is electronic, this may not work. Better to just label the wires as you take something apart. Maranatha!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Testo 500 Guages Fix.

Testo 500
I love my Testo 500 Refrigeration Analyzer to the point that I swear by it for accurate, reliable, and timely system diagnosis. I can find problems quickly and charge quickly and accurately. For something technically audacious as a set of digital gauges, they've been durable, more so than set of dial ones. The only thing I've had to replace was a temperature clamp and a couple sets of batteries in the two years I've used them. Not bad at all, even at $350 for the set.

One thing I do find fault with is that when they go out of calibration, they need to go back to the factory in Germany for repair. This involves shipping costs to and from same to Michigan USA as well as the cost to fix them. The one thing that my supplier was sure of was that they didn't know what the cost was going to be; for any of it. As a technician who depends on these tools, waiting 14 days and spending the money to ship these to Europe is something best avoided. "I don't know" is a factor that can range from a few dollars to well in excess of the price of new equipment. This is not something I can chance right now. I know the set got wet a few days ago and  got a hell of a lot of oil through it on a tune up on Monday. Here's what I did to fix it, and if it quits, I'll tell you that in an updated article.

As for water, these gauges have plugs where the clamp leads go in, but I lost one of mine and this is how the water got in. To make matters worse, I couldn't zero in the pressures and the screen had a bit of a watermark to it. In fact it read "uuuuuuu." Be very careful when taking apart an electronic device and ground yourself out beforehand. If you don't you could fry the components with static electricity. Do not force parts together, or touch the surfaces of the board with your bare hands. Use rubbing alcohol or electronics cleaner on all parts. Do not use soap, water, or other cleaners inside the unit or you will wreck it. You will need a Phillips head screwdriver, a small pry tool, a hair dryer (DO NOT USE A HEAT GUN!) a syringe with no needle and some rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol. Remove the battery door and the batteries and then you can remove the six screws holding the back on the unit. The circuit board comes out next, and you need to unplug the two Molex connectors to the manifold. You can use a pry tool to unclip the pins holding the knobs to the manifold and remove that from the case.

Push the touch pad from the case, clean the insides out with rubbing alcohol and let air dry. Also flush out any oil from the manifold with the syringe and said alcohol and let air dry. To remove the watermark from the display and dry the board, use the hair dryer on a low setting until the display turns black and then stop. You put the back of the case on the board and reinstall the batteries temporarily to turn the unit on and check if the watermark is gone. If not, take it back apart and heat it again, but if it doesn't go away after that and it works, leave it alone. Put the case back together and try out the buttons. You should be able to zero it out and go through all the functions without fighting it and the sight glass should be clean. Hopefully saved a few hundred bucks on equipment. Maranatha!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Leak Fix For Your Air Conditioner, Part 2 Find and Fix

If you haven't got up running and screaming reading this prose, I salute you because most customers would have sent me packing already. For those in the technical part of it, hopefully it helps or at least gives you reason to laugh. Either way, mission accomplished.
So the refrigerant, coolant, freon, etc is low. We can either add leak sealer and refrigerant and hope it stops the leak, or find and fix it. I'm not a big fan of leak sealers myself, but for a customer contemplating ruining a vacation or trying to defer the expense until next season, it's an alternative worth considering. Dump it in and pray that it hold is all I can say. Easy Seal brand seems to work the best for this, but I've also encountered several systems where the leak was too large.
The first thing to do is look for the obvious. Are the Schrader valves loose or damaged? There's usually two in the condensing unit and one in the indoor coil; these are common sources of leaks. Usually, you will hear the leaks or find them with bubbles at the the condensing unit. This is because hooking up and removing the hoses will result in a false positive with an electronic device. If you can't fix it tightening the cores, use a core removal tool that lets you replace them without recovering the charge and vacuuming the system. The one inside the indoor coil will need an electronic leak finder, such as the Bacharach Informant 2 to find as bubbles won't be very practical there. This is also good for finding smaller leaks anyway.
Another way to find leaks is visually and this means looking for oil on fittings or where someone didn't join two pieces correctly. Grab a couple wrenches and tighten all the fittings on mini splits and many indoor coils with compression fittings. Most of the time, these will cure a leak without having to take too much time and effort. However, if involves a poor joint, crack or other breach in the system, you will have to recover the refrigerant, fix the leak, charge it with nitrogen, vacuum and recharge.
Most of the time this involves using a torch and there's no substitute for an Oxy-Acetylene outfit. Propane and MAPP Gas will not get the fittings or filler metal hot enough to fill the joints and make the repair. I've had some success with low temperature brazing rod such as Harris' Blockade, but this stuff has a tendency to bubble when you try and heat it with a MAPP gas torch and has some issues with flowing. It is cheaper to use at about $15 a pack as opposed to $120 for silver brazing rod, but refrigerant is also pricey and most jobs only need less than one stick of the good stuff anyway. Bite the bullet and use it, because callbacks are a pain. Just heat up the base metal without melting it and apply the brazing rod to fill the leaks. If there's plumbing solder on the joints, just heating this stuff will remove it and then apply the silver brazing rod to it. Once you've found and fixed the leaks, let the joint cool and charge the system with nitrogen. Usually not a bad idea to have a light charge of it while you fix the leaks, but this is your call. If the charge doesn't drop, you've fixed all the leaks for now. Vacuum the system down and either weigh in the charge or by superheat or subcooling with the proper refrigerant.
To the customer, this isn't a walk in the park and the items we use to do the repair properly are not cheap either. Refrigerant is crazy expensive as of this writing. R410 costs about $260 for a 25 pound jug wholesale and over $400 for 25 pounds of R22. The latter is only going up and we could face shortages of it by summer's end. Blame the Montreal Protocol for this one. Soon R410 will be replaced because of its "global warming" potential (I can't make this horse feathers up) with carbon dioxide or good old CO2. It's $37,000 per day per violation for allowing "ozone depleting" refrigerants into the air, so we can't legally just dump R22 into a system without fixing it. Some firms will keep doing this until this stuff gets out of this world on price, but not forever. I personally believe that "global warming" "climate change" and "ozone depletion" are bunk, as someone is getting filthy rich over this planned obsolescence. However, it isn't me or the business owner that is. Every time there's a change, we have to invest in new equipment, materials and tools. I've spent close to $6000 in the past 3 years upgrading my tools and training to stay current and compliant. This doesn't include buying and replacing tools necessary at any rate. My boss has also had to upgrade and shell out more money too. Because the cost of everything from refrigerant to copper and aluminum to steel had gone up, this is not a cost a business owner can afford to absorb and still stay in business. It hasn't resulted in his pay going up at all, and though I can't complain, it hasn't booted my pay either. This is much like the clerk facing numerous customer tirades after gasoline prices spike. These guys and gals aren't getting rich either and most are barely getting by. Please understand the cost of the effort and materials when getting a quote for a job. Sure it's expensive, but it's even more expensive to do the job wrong or illegally. You wouldn't want us to do that. Maranatha!