Tuning up an appliance for optimum efficiency

As mechanical contractors, you do an amazingly good job of keeping your customers' systems in good health. You clean drains, save water with low-consumption fixtures and conserve precious fossil fuels through the installation and use of high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. You also counsel customers so that they can make intelligent, informed decisions regarding the products you service

As mechanical contractors, you do an amazingly good job of keeping your customers' systems in good health. You clean drains, save water with low-consumption fixtures and conserve precious fossil fuels through the installation and use of high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. You also counsel customers so that they can make intelligent, informed decisions regarding the products you service and sell. For all these reasons and more, you stand heads and shoulders above the crowd.

When a customer's equipment is beyond repair, they enter into what's often called a “teachable moment.” It's that point in time when customers are intently focused on what you teach them regarding resolutions to ensure a satisfactory outcome that will ensure long-term reliability and longevity for their investments.

We are so intently focused on keeping our customers' mechanical systems in perfect health that we often tend to ignore our own.

Clogged drains, pumps that are out of order, excessive fuel input and combustion out of whack can all be due to inattentive owners. Allow me to stray off topic a wee bit: I'm referring to our own internal mechanical systems.

In this column, I'm going to mention a few products by name with model numbers, and several Website URLs are included. I want to state up front that I have received no compensation from any of them and none is expected nor been promised for naming names or products.

A few months ago, I began to notice an almost constant feeling I normally only felt when lifting something heavy — a bit like pressure building around my neck and head. I ignored the symptoms and thought they would pass. They did not.

A doctor's appointment revealed I had high blood pressure. It was extremely high — explosively high! During the examination, my blood pressure was 204/165, which represents systolic and diastolic pressures.

From what I was told — in very blunt terms — I was a ticking time bomb poised for a heart attack or stroke, which is not exactly great news.

The doc told me there are four basic things that contribute to high blood pressure: stress (like you and I ever see any stress!); salt (I love salt on almost everything. The more salt, the better food tasted, or so I thought); being overweight (hey, I knew I was a bit thick in the middle, but who wasn't?); and alcohol (I'm a Yuengling Lager and wine lover).

“Cut out the salt and I'm sending you for blood tests to see where your cholesterol levels are,” the doctor said. “And I want you to track your blood pressure at least twice a day.” I purchased an Omron model HEM-780BP automatic blood pressure monitor with memory.

Can you say depressed? I was fairly certain my cholesterol test was going to be off the charts. A 37-year, I'm-in-a-rush, fast-food diet was bound to catch up with me one day — just not this day, right? Isn't that what we tell ourselves as we coast along the lousy diet highway?

Then there were the evening home-cooked, meat-and-potato-with-gravy meals that tasted so dog-gone good. A second heaping helping was natural. Breakfasts included whole milk, cereal with lots of junk built in and toast with butter. Overflowing plates of bounty led to an overflowing waistline.

For every 3,500 food calories consumed beyond what's needed to maintain our body weight, we'll gain 1 lb. Each food calorie provides us with 3.969-Btus to fuel our internal boiler. A poor diet and lack of exercise cause an average of 400,000 deaths each year — second only to smoking!

In my research regarding high BP, I stumbled onto a body mass index calculator (www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm). I was less than thrilled to discover I was clinically labeled as “obese” for my height and weight. I just barely was in the club of the fat.

Additional research led me to a basic metabolic rate, or BMR, calculator (www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator). The device added insult to injury by telling me I should try the South Beach Diet while listing my BMR in red ink — outside the site's box where your BMR would normally appear.

I was getting hot under the collar. But, as they say, the truth hurts. My BMR gave me the required Btus (caloric intake) to stoke the fires that would cause me to maintain, gain or lose weight for my daily intake — like feeding a boiler too much, too little or just the right amount of fuel. It seems I'd been stoking the fires a bit too much for far too long!

The doc had mentioned pills — the beginning of a lifetime's prescription to hold blood pressure and cholesterol in check. I hate taking pills. My dad takes so many pills at each meal that they could well be the meal. Expecting the worst, I set out to learn what I could before the blood test results and my return visit were scheduled.

Would a no- or low-salt diet and exercise gain me a pill pass, or was a lifetime of medication my future? Next month's column will reveal the facts.

Dave Yates owns F.W. Behler, a contracting company in York, Pa. He can be reached by phone at 717/843-4920 or by e-mail at [email protected].

All Dave Yates material on this website is protected by Copyright 2008. Any reuse of this material (print or electronic) must first have the expressed written permission of Dave Yates. Please contact via email at: [email protected]

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TAGS: Fixtures