Online purchases

I want to pass on to other contractors my experience with online purchases so they can avoid the same problems I experienced. I needed a Steamist SM-4 steam generator for replacement in a customer's house. The local supply house told me that model was no longer available, but I went online through Amazon and found it. I ordered it, but then was notified that, in fact, it was no longer available. Because I was already online, I went ahead and purchased the SM-5. It was delivered, but then the customer postponed the job because they were away. They didn't come back for a few months.

When we went to do the replacement, we found out the steam generator sent to us was 208 volts instead of 240 volts, which we needed in a residential house. When I contacted the online vendor I was informed that we could not return it because the distributor they had purchased it from would not accept the return. So I got stuck with a steam generator I will never use, which cost more than $1,000.

If I had purchased this product through the local supply house (Simons in Fall River), they would've worked with me and arranged for a return. I would have gladly paid a restocking fee. This is the traditional supply chain we have depended upon for years, but when we bypass it we take risks that are not necessarily obvious upfront.

This lesson cost me $1,000, so I am offering it to my fellow contractors for free. However, if anyone needs a Steamist SM-5 steam generator…

Greg Hall
Independent Plumbing & Heating
Bristol, R.I.


Temperature reading

As usual, Jim Wheeler is ringing the bells of heaven with his article and I do agree with him. I am referring to page 64 of the just-received electronic issue of Supply House Times (May issue). But when it comes to reading line temperatures, wouldn’t reading them with an infrared thermometer work just as well as attaching a thermometer?

Simply shooting that beam onto any metal surface should tell us what the temp is, pronto. And if so, wouldn’t that save a lot of money at $2.00 per minute?

Aaron York



Mr. Wheeler, I agree with everything you write, but I wonder how you get superheat and subcooling values without knowing a pressure. Please let me know.

Bruce Bosler

Jim Wheeler: Simply measure the temperature at the center of the coils to obtain saturation. However, you’re right. It’s probably easier to determine low-side saturation from taking a suction-pressure reading.