19 Jan 2016

How to plumb RO system DIY schematic and plumbing of reverse osmosis pumps

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 How to plumb RO system DIY schematic and plumbing of reverse osmosis pumps


Hope you enjoy this video on how to plumb a reverse osmosis system using both pumps. With a reverse osmosis system a few of the problems you might encounter are efficency ratio, tds creep and overall production. You can solve all three of these issues by using both pumps on your system. Especially if you have low water pressure. If you live in an area where the water pressure is high all the time then you might not need a booster pump. Instead operate your system with just the permeate pump and ad a auto shut off valve to help with filling the tank and migration of water when you dont need it.


15 Dec 2015

When was the last time you cleaned your coils?

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building., HVAC Solutions DIY How To No Comments

When was the last time you really had your coils cleaned?

A lot of a/c companies say there going to clean your heating and air system. But do they?

It’s been my experience most don’t, they just brush it off, fiddle around and pick out the leaves but they never really get down to the nitty gritty and clean the coils along with the blower motor.

I have done hundreds of service calls where the system I was called to work on had been maintained by another company every year. The air conditioning slowly started not to work, and this year there told it can’t be fixed and it is going to be 6 thousand dollars to replace it.

I will put my gauges on the machine and see that one or both of the coils are completely clogged. And once cleaned the system runs just fine better then its been in years. Cleaning the coils is something I learned at a young age working with my father in New Rochelle NY on window units. My father would go out the night before appliance pick up day with the intent of finding air conditioners, fixing them and reselling them. This was when window units were expensive and better made then now. And many times they just needed to be cleaned and they worked just fine.

The outdoor coil pulls in dirt, grass clippings, pollen, bugs and all sorts of small things that float around outside. All these things work to block the airflow or hinder the exchange of heat. They can not be removed from the coil with a vacuum. They must be properly removed with soap and water and at a minimum high pressure air.

The indoor coil which is the hardest to clean sometimes starts out dirty because they ran the unit for heat during construction. Many times we use inadequate filters or none at all. Dust, hair, dead skin, pet dander and all sorts of things get into the coil when its not properly filtered. And cleaning this coil can be a real job that is why it never gets done. Having a dirty coil causes several different problems. One is low suction pressure which can lead to someone putting to much freon in your system, it can cause low air flow which hurts you in many different ways. I have cleaned coils where the air flow was so bad it caused the furnace to overheat in the winter and shut down the burner on high limit. At least once every five years you must be willing to pay for a couple extra hours of labor to have your coil inspected and cleaned.

15 Feb 2015

Residential Indoor Pool Humidity Control & MigrationTreatise

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building. No Comments

                      Residential Indoor Pool Humidity Control

Indoor Pool Humidity Control




This article is meant to be an exercise in idea’s concerning a house that contains an indoor swimming pool separated by a wall from the rest of the house. We are going to assume the house is built correctly with all the proper vapor barriers in place. Using materials that will not be destroyed by humidity.There will be a modern H.V.A.C. system in place and a proper Humidity and temperature control system for the pool. The pool water will be heated to 75 degree’s F the air temperature will be close to that and our goal is to maintain humidity in the pool area at 50 to 60 %. We are in a region of the country that has all four seasons and the winters can be very cold and last quite a while.

Residential Indoor Pool Humidity Control & Migration


The question here is really about migration, humidity control is pretty straight forward. Not to say it is easy, it is not. It needs to be done correctly. But the right sized system with all the proper duct work should take care of it nicely.

The real question is our case is How do you control migration of the humidity between the pool and the main structure?

The answer we get from experts is to use pressure differential.

If the structure is built very tight then the way most experts address this problem is by cutting a hole in the building envelope and installing a fan that is pulling from the inside and discharging outside. By doing this they are pulling a very slight negative pressure on the pool area creating a pressure difference between the pool area and the rest of the structure. Thus in theory stopping the migration of excess humidity into the rest of the home.

The rest of the home having a slightly higher pressure would be protected and would be the one loosing it’s conditioned air to the pool. I will ad a hand drawn picture of this. I believe in our area of the country this may be the least expensive to install but over time is not good solution. At a minimum large heat recovery ventilators should be used in place of just a fan. Think of all the energy lost using this method. The infiltration factor for the room has to increase. Every flaw in workmanship will now become a place for infiltration.


Below is a letter I wrote to a customer concerning this very theory and I will ad to it after the letter. This customer also had a large organ in the house that required humidity to operate as per the manufactures recommendations.


 To whom it may concern:

I just wanted to talk to you a little about know facts and some theory. The first fact I want to mention is,  your organ company wants you to maintain a certain amount of humidity in the air all year round, 50 to 60%. Doctors say humidity in the air is good for us. Humidity is not bad, as long as it is not in excess of 60%. And as long as the only source is not your pool water evaporating.

So if your pool dehumidification system is doing it’s job we should have about 50% humidity in the air.

So a little migration from the pool to the house considering you have this new salt water system isn’t really all that bad. So stopping it is not as important as minimizing it to a degree. If there is 50% humidity in the pool, and also 50% humidity in the house, there is no place for the humidity to go. It just stays where it is.

In a structure designed to hold an indoor pool. Pure exhaust in order to pull a negative pressure on the pool area seems like a big waste of money. To me that is why I didn’t bring it up. However I can install it if you like. They had that system installed in a YMCA I took care of and I believe it has flaws. Whenever a negative pressure exists in a space that is not 100 % sealed there is always a higher pressure waiting to get in. This is a fact. That higher pressure is the outdoor air or the conditioned air from your house. So in the winter when energy is at its highest (unless you are using recovery ventilators) you are expelling energy from the pool area and replacing it with energy from the house.

This would all be different if the pool was in a standalone structure of course but it is not. Why worry every time you open a door that you are releasing this pressure. You want to enjoy this lovely pool. I say keep the pressure the same, save the energy that going to be expelled from the house and use it to humidify if necessary so all things being equal there won’t be any migration.

Experts who are in the installation field not the theory field will say that maintaining 60% humidity in the pool is unlikely. The real number will more likely be 50%. This is a perfect % of humidity in the house to maintain people health as well as the health of the organ. All the energy used to make humidity will be used in the house and not simply expelled. And with the use of ERV units as much as 70% of exhausted energy and humidity can be captured and put back into the structure. We can take all the condensed water we have from the house and pump it into a cheap plastic barrel in the mechanical room and you can even use that water to water the indoor plants. No waste!!!!!!!

In another letter I went on to explain the H.V.A.C. system in the house will need to be set up with humidity sensors built into the thermostats and that in the winter we would need to humidify the house and in the summer dehumidify. The entire time maintaining what ever humidity level we have agreed upon. By doing this the migration would be minimal. You will be able to open and close the doors to the pool with out much worry. You would almost certainly reduce the pool water evaporation by eliminating the negative pressure fan.

Greg Murphy



Let’s talk about this more. There is no doubt what I subject will cost more then a fan pulling a negative pressure. That should not be the main consideration. Even a small indoor pool done correctly can cost $500,000 or more to add to the project. I’ll bet the one in the little picture above was more like $750,000. The main house is 3 times that much. Out of all the things on the project why try and cut corners on the mechanical s concerning the pool and the house. You will pay for this in the long run! This is a guarantee!

I witnessed an indoor pool installed years back in which the area around the pool was filled in with out the pool itself being surrounded by insulation. I don’t know how much was saved but I’m sure by now they have spent ten times that amount on energy. Helping to heat the northeast region of our country.


I would like also to help a bit with anyone considering floor mounted dehumidifiers. The only way I can see this working is if you have a indoor structure made our of concrete with no windows. With no worries of condensation.


  Dehumidification is not just about lowering the humidity level. There are a lot of factors involved. All windows and doors and some exterior walls should have a blanket of air on them at all times in order to prevent or minimize condensation. This may mean underground ducts, ducts built into the walls plus overhead ducts and branches pointing into skylights.


09 Dec 2014

What should I set my thermostat at?

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White Rogers thermostat Honeywell Focus pro





 What should I set my thermostat at?

In this post I am going to give you my actual experience on setting a thermostat and not just a quick copy and paste tutorial from the manufacturer. If you have time periods on your thermostat you can set them if you choose. I’ve spent years going back and forth on this and have come to the conclusion that (for me) I prefer for most of the year not to use them..Especially in the winter! I don’t like waking up to a colder house. I prefer to spend the extra money on fuel. I will use the periods during the beginning and end of seasons but not much in the middle. So What should I set my thermostat at?

Wake: This is thew time when you get out of bed, I will set this for 30 minutes prior to make sure I’m comfortable. I set the heat at 70 and the Air at 73

Leave: This is a period when everyone is off to work or school and no one is home. If this does not happen delete the period. I set the heat at 65 and the air at 76.  Time to 8am                                                                                                                                                                                 Return:This is when everyone comes home or at least when the first person comes home, I set the heat to 70 and the air to 73..The time to 5PM, if you have kids set this to when they get home from school.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Sleep: This is when you retire for the night. I set this to 65 for the heat and 76 for the air. The time to about 10PM..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               If you have a forced air system, meaning that you have a fan with ducts instead of  pipes going to baseboard or radiators then you are going to want to set the fan to auto during the winter and the fan to on during the summer.  This is purely for comfort. Having a fan run when the burner is not on during the winter causes drafts. Which can make you feel cold. Those same drafts in the summer make you feel good. Hope this helps.  

  What should I set my thermostat at? Many times I will just find a personal comfort setting and hit the hold button…lol

06 Dec 2014

Should I cover my air conditioner

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Carrier Furnace Split SytemShould I cover my air conditioner




Should I cover my air conditioner is a very common question but not always an easy one to answer. The answer really depends on where you live and how often you use you system..

I am not going to keep you waiting for the answer…

The first answer to Should I cover my air conditioner? Is if your unsure do not do it…I have seen the wrong covers cause more damage to an air conditioner then mother nature could have ever done. The reason for this is many people use tarp material to cover everything outside..I do it! So the first thing they grab for is a tarp..Using a tarp will destroy the air conditioner over time. A tarp can not breath, there is no airflow and moisture gets trapped along with any rotting vegetation, bugs, rodents and remnants of acid rain.

Which brings me to my next point which will be to clean your unit before you go any further. The first thing you should do is disconnect the electric so that you dont accidentally turn the unit on while cleaning or forget and start the system with the cover on!Want to learn how to clean an air conditioner check out my video-https://ambientmechanicalsystems.com/how-to-diy-hvac/cleaning-air-conditioning-coils/

Once The coil is clean and dry you can now start to consider covering it, but before you do you may want to try this trick..Lightly Spray the outside painted surfaces and screws with WD-40 this will help protect them over the winter period when you are not using your system.

Which brings us to the last point which is, find either breathable material to use on your air conditioner or a fitted cover. There are a lot of them on the market.

But remember never use plastic or a tarp to cover your system.

10 Oct 2014

Electric heaters under the desk

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Electric heaters under the desk

We spent millions of dollars upgrading the heating and air systems in our schools and public office buildings of all types in the last ten years. I remember reading that the estimate for Arlington High was in the millions of dollars. Newburgh spent millions on a new control system. Lagrange just updated there system and so on. After all the new taxes were collected, we spent them making our employees and school children comfortable. In some cases we spent more on these upgrades then all the private residents in that area spent on themselves combined.

And everything was done right. All the jobs had engineers and every office that needs to be involved was involved. Hundreds of meetings to talk about guidelines and new standards. Everyone was paid prevailing wages. All the materials were up to specs. We now have fresh air ventilation systems in most of our public buildings and schools so that no one gets tired from breathing co2.

So then why do so many people who work for us have electric heaters in there office, classroom and under the desk?

Each one of those heaters draws 1500 watts of electricity. It’s about equivalent of having  three dozen energy bulbs lit at the same time.

There is no way to calculate the expense of the electric involved but state wide it has to be enormous! 

It’s been a while since I have worked in these settings but when I was there the problem was wide spread. I know people that work for companies that service public building and they say the problem is worse now then before. With the new systems bringing in fresh air in the winter and having fans run all the time. Either way the people that are plugging in these heaters would never do the same thing in there own home. I have done service calls for people I met in these settings who say there cold at work and want the heat up and you go to there house and the heat is set way down.????

They are taking advantage of the fact that the electric is being paid for by tax dollars.

When I serviced public buildings I would get a call that so & so was cold. I would show up after being outside in freezing weather and find it quite pleasant inside. I would bring a very expensive thermometer with me and check the temperature around the person who complained that it’s cold. And find it is with in the specs sets down by people smarter then us……

And yet they would have

 Electric heaters under the desk

13 Sep 2014

aging lennox rooftop unit short cycling in heat

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aging lennox rooftop unit short cycling in heat

In this post I am going to share my experience with anyone out there that needs help with an difficult very common problem with the older Lennox roof top units. I will ad age and models but right now dont have that information.

Lennox made a very good roof top unit that was painted white and is installed on top of commercial buildings all over NY and maybe the world. On average they are 5 to 15 tons and they are built almost exactly the same regardless of size. They are the original installations and are all over the Elmford White Plains Rockland county area and if you have a free standing bank or public building anywhere in NY it’s also going to be on your roof.

The symtons

The symtons are in the winter you will have poor heating and if you can listen to the unit from the return plenum you will hear the burner cycle  on and off and never really staying on long enough to heat the space prperly when it’s very cold. Although the thermostat still wants heat and the fan continues to run. There are also problems with cooling but with the Lennox unit this particular problem shows it self better in the heat cycle. Although the ac is just as compromised by this condition.

You can expect poor cooling in the summer, freezing up, people adding freon. Water leaking thru plenum etc.

The solution

The solution to your problem involves real maintenance not just changing filters and belts like has been done for the last thirty years. The evaporator coil is clogged with dirt. When there is a call for heat and the burner cycles on, there is a lack of airflow caused by a dirty and partially clogged evaporator coil. Because it’s partially clogged a limit switch near the coil trips when the burner starts to reach temperature due to the very slow moving air. Shutting off the burner causing cold air to be blown into the space. If your in a Mack Cali suite in the Elmsford area then your problem is compounded by an open return common in that area. It was very common years ago to not install return ducts into the space below but to leave the return open to the ceiling and just put perforated tiles in the drop ceiling for some return air back to the unit. This type of installation is helpful to the building owner because it helps warm up the roof in the winter and it helps keep it cool in the summer but it is far from being beneficial to the tenant. The tenant may be paying double if not more for there utility bills then what it needs to be, most of those roofs are not insulated under the corrugated metal.

The good news is you dont need a new unit. Don’t let anyone say its just weak or needs a heat exchanger. We used to pull those out and never really find anything wrong. A little rust spot here and there, isn’t the problem! I worked for a company that changed dozens of those heat exchangers and left them on the roofs. Then when a lift could come in they had me go around and remove them. I would with out even a second thought put all of them back in the unit, many of those tenants had there heat locked out during the winter waiting the replacement. For a little rust hole so small you wouldn’t have been able to stick the tip of a pencil in.

The coil on the Lennox unit is not easy to get to and there is the chance a little water will leak down while cleaning it. But on a nice day start by removing all the panels. Then A hose must be brought to the roof, connect to a small electric power washer, get a bottle of Simple Green and find a caring qualified mechanic that will do a good job and not destroy your office. And after your finished you will have a unit that heats and cools just fine.

PS while the unit is open clean the condenser coils and the rest of the machine!

These machines were built like tanks and if properly maintained will last a very long time.


12 Sep 2014

sporlan expansion valves form 10-363

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building. No Comments

sporlan expansion valves form 10-363

When I started in the HVAC|R field expansion valves were present in most of the air conditioners I worked on. Even window air conditioners if they were not capillary tube had some form of an expansion valve in them. This would for the most part make it so that operating pressures and characteristics were relatively consistent. And when they were not this was a real problem to solve. They were so uncommon if you came across a few here and there you could bypass them and still keep being a a/c tech. You did not have to be a mad scientist or private detective to repair air conditioning systems.

That has changed!

In todays new world with massive home builders and construction companies that do not look at HVAC as a big part of the budget combined with the home owners who’s attentions are in a different direction, 10’s of thousands of poorly installed air conditioning systems have been installed in the last five years and there appears to be no end in site.

We are dealing with long line sets, poorly installed ducts, mismatched systems and more.

The orifice!

The orifice when sized properly works great and when installed in a well laid out ac system will not give you any problems. But when installed in a poorly laid out systems robs even more performance then whats already been taken and I dont mean just by using more electric. People are loosing BTU’S. I have been in dozens of new homes,condo’s and town houses that on a hot day will not cool down.

The orifice did not cause this problem and the TEV valve is not the cure all to this problem. But it’s a start! By installing expansion valves and properly adjusting superheat. “The best way to adjust the superheat is to recover the charge and weigh in the factory charge and go from there.” We can give the end user some of there BTU’S back and eliminate some of there worries.

sporlan expansion valves form 10-363


11 Sep 2014

York-ADP coils txv issue Informational Bulletin 8-4-2014

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building. No Comments

York-ADP coils txv issue Informational Bulletin 8-4-2014

ADVANCED DISTRIBUTOR PRODUCTS LLC                                             Drawing of an expansion valve it becomes plugged when debris enters p4
PH: 770-465-5560 FAX: 770-465-5599
August 4, 2014
Informational Bulletin
Over the last few weeks, we have received field reports of performance issues with various lower tonnage systems from multiple system manufacturers.
We have been investigating this issue and thought it was important to share what information we have learned with our valued customers.
The performance issue manifests itself through a restricted TXV.
Upon investigation, we are finding numerous cases of system contamination occurring in newly installed R-410A systems.
On these systems, a black sticky residue is collecting in the TXV, restricting flow through the TXV and resulting in low suction pressures and poor performance.
Chemical analysis indicates this black residue is formed from contaminants that have been introduced into the system.
We have had reports of this occurring with multiple brands of TXVs and multiple brands of evaporator coils. Therefore we believe the contaminants are coming from elsewhere in the system.
When replacing a TXV on a contaminated system, we believe filter dryers with activated alumina or charcoal may help prevent the contaminants from continuing to circulate through the system.
These types of filter dryers include:
 Danfoss DCL-163S
 Parker LLD-163S
 Sporlan C-163-S-HH (AC) or HPC-163-S-HH (HP)
We are continuing to investigate and research the source of the contamination and will communicate our findings when they are conclusive.
Advanced Distributor Products

Here is a link to the original document

York-ADP coils txv issue Informational Bulletin 8-4-2014.pdf

I hope this post helps anyone that’s having problems with bad expansion valves on Puron or r-410a systems. The fix is to clean up the system some how. Maybe install a burn out filter drier just prior to the new valve and also add a burn out drier to the suction line. I spoke to a factory rep who said he recommends changing to an orifice until the problem is cleaned up.


24 Aug 2014

Why are there so many refrigerants

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Why are there so many refrigerants in our industry now. It is slowly becoming impossible to determine what refrigerant is in a system. We will soon need a tractor trailer to go on service calls. I have 10 different refrigerants in my truck and another five or six at the shop. And I still dont have enough!!!!! Have we gone to far? If I go on a service call and I cant determine refrigerant I recover the refrigerant. And put in something that will work. Then I clearly mark what went in and the date. How hard is it to do that!

I am finding very unusual pressures on systems on a regular basis now. This tells me that all the inexperienced service techs are mixing refrigerants. There adding the wrong refrigerant to the systems. How much money is this costing the owners. If my little service company is finding dozens of the these every year what are other people coming across.

Lately I look at my gauges and have to scratch my head. What is the problem? Expansion valve or wrong orifice? Wrong size line set or too long. Really bad duct work. Forgot to remove the nitrogen before charging. Never pulled a vacuum on the system. Mixed the refrigerants or even put the wrong one. You almost never saw the quantity and types of mistakes being made today years ago.

When I started in this industry there were 3 refrigerants for every thing. If you had one can of each you were golden. Companies are working on more as I write this, I have no idea just how many there are but there must be more then one hundred by now.

Nothing is clearly marked! I have not come up behind another company yet that is clearing marking there condensing units. Commercial refrigeration is the worst. Nothing is marked and a large restaurant that has a dozen refrigerators can have a separate refrigerant in each system. What some refrigeration companies are doing is marking the systems with a number they came up with and keeping information in there books as to what they installed so that no one coming up behind them can get it.

Why are there so many refrigerants? Why cant we start getting rid of the refrigerants that are not widely used? Why are the refrigerant companies not supplying stickers with each box so that we can clearly mark every thing? I just worked on a large commercial freezer that was marked Freon 502 on the compressor and while checking the fans on the evaporator discovered someone wrote MP-39 on the side of the coil? Why would you put Mp-39 in a freezer? That has a 502 compressor in it…

With the exception of the large union refrigeration companies that service mostly supermarkets and and large food handling plants it seems no one working on these systems is a career refrigeration service tech. Most of the techs I see are just people who know just enough to cause more damage then do good. There on there way somewhere else. Just passing through. They hope to get a really high paying union job where they can text all day. Many will wind up in the metro north or DOT maintenance department. In the meantime we have them putting refrigerants in systems they dont care about. They care more about there next text then what will happen if they put in the wrong refrigerant. Monetarily I make more money off of these persons I cant complain about that! What bothers me is how they think this is easy, they got it, yet they cant do it properly.

I have a commercial customer who has a bunch of bad compressors. Not to mention his equipment looks like hell and there are clearly other issues. How did all these compressors go bad? They are all Copeland semi hermetic. They dont fail all that often not like this. More then likely refrigeration companies are sending tech’s out that are putting in the wrong refrigerants causing catastrophic failures of each one of these compressors. This customer has spent five thousand dollars with me in just the last two weeks and we are just scratching the surface.

Why are there so many refrigerants? It’s time to start limiting the refrigerants some how!

I am starting to use 404A on most of my new refrigeration installations and retro fits. It works just fine so far as I can see and it’s cheap. On my retro fits I am setting up the small compressors with unions and shut offs so that i can easily change the oil in the future. I simply blow out the system with nitrogen and return after a while and change the oil. I am finding that when I come up behind people who use flush kits that they dont get all the flush out of the system and the clean up for that is more then an oil change.

I use 410A on my new air conditioning systems as most people, it seems to work fine once you get used to it and put it in the correct way. I find the biggest by far mistake people are making is with sub cooling. If you dont get the sub cooling correct on these systems then they do not work up to there potential. I am installing 1/4 x 4 copper wells on my liquid line near the condensing unit and strapping it down with heat transfer paste then covering it with insulation. So I can get a accurate reading with my thermometer. I have watched these 410A units just come to life once the sub cooling is in range. The heat coming from the condenser increases and its a beautiful thing.

Of course we are going to need to keep 134A around for a while longer i think we have finally got used to it and it works. I still have my doubts about it just cant put my finger on them.

Hot shot has got to go, why is it so expensive? 414B Plus i dont think it really works well and is efficient. It just seems to do the job. Does not preform well under extreme conditions. And at almost $500 a can or more in some  places its cheaper to retrofit then keep buying it for a few customers. Every time I buy a can I have it for years.

I believe in the near future I will start a separate blog so i can get feed back from people in the trade so we can all get together and start getting a handle on this problem. I don’t allow comments on my main site.