Dr. Seuss wrote a beautiful book by that title. It’s probably been the main focus of most high-school valedictorian addresses ever since. But I don’t think Dr. Seuss ever spent much time in unusual mechanical rooms or famous buildings.
I worked for a manufacturers’ rep when I was first learning about hydronics. A guy I worked with was 15 years older than me. He knew that I had absolutely no training as an engineer so he took a different tack with my education. He made me close my eyes and imagine myself as a marble rolling through the pipes.
The steam seminar was to be in North Carolina, which was strange enough, that being the state where most folks only know how to say, “Heat pump, please.” It was also going to be sparsely attended. Oh, and the location was a nasty, windowless, brick-walled basement room in what used to be a hospital, but was now an office building. I immediately looked around for Jack Nicholson and Nurse Ratched. Welcome to the cuckoo’s nest.
Steam-and hot-water heating joined hands a long time ago to make up what we today call “hydronics.” Both systems run on water, and they’ve been around for hundreds of years. The Institute of Boiler and Radiation Manufacturers coined the term hydronics in 1946 to make the science of heating a building with water sound sexy — like “electronics.”
So this fella comes up to me after a hot-water seminar and tells me about a problem he's having with this copper-fintube baseboard loop he installed in this big hall with a bunch of offices. "I can't get the end hot," he said.
I asked a bunch of heating contractor friends what was missing from their wholesaler’s stock and how they felt about that. They had some interesting things to say and I thought you might want to listen in.
Ever been to Ocean City, Maryland? It’s a summertime wonderland, and I was lucky enough years ago to get hired to do a seminar on hydronic radiant heating for a group of contractors who were having a conference there.
Before I retired in 2016, I’d get a lot of calls from lawyers who wanted to hire me to be an expert witness at a trial. They were almost always representing a building owner. I always said “no thank you,” because I like to keep stress out of my life.