Winter chill

Much of the country experienced a brutal winter last year and it looks like we may be in for more of the same this season.

In fact the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting “the T-Rex of winters” from Alberta east through Ontario and Quebec and into the Maritimes. Other experts say perhaps it won’t be quite that bad, but just about everyone is predicting lots of snow.

Of course, this isn’t particularly bad news for our industry. HVAC, refrigeration and plumbing service techs will be busy.

One thing we saw last year, however, was that while systems in colder parts of the country are designed to function in very low temperatures, those in places that don’t traditionally get a lot of snow or very cold temperatures like Southern Ontario ran into problems. Roy Collver writes about some of the issues with propane in very cold temperatures in the November issue of Plumbing & HVAC Magazine.

The message that contractors need to get out to their customers as we get into winter is to ensure their systems are protected and configured correctly to deal with the cold and snow of a severe winter. Customers on fuel oil and propane need to be advised against letting their tanks get too low. One issue that we saw last year was lack of adequate pressure in propane tanks that were still a quarter or more full. One also hopes that propane suppliers have taken steps to prevent the shortages and price spikes of last winter.

The weather gurus are also talking about the possibility of another “ice incident” like that suffered in several parts of the country last winter, so that is worth keeping that in mind too. There may be calls for emergency backup heat or power supplies.

Contractors and wholesalers know only too well that we went through a number of mild winters that didn’t help business. One has to wonder if these colder winters are simply a return to normal, or just a short-term change.

The environmental gurus don’t use the term “global warming” anymore. The new term is “extreme weather,” which is more accurate. This means extreme cold, extreme heat, high winds and generally unstable weather. If true, it’s not a good thing for the planet, for people, for farmers.

For those that repair plumbing and HVAC/R systems, it means they will be busy and sometimes dealing with situations they haven’t encountered before. It’s difficult to prepare for the unexpected, but it’s worth thinking about, planning and preparing for as much as possible.

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DEC. 3-5, 2014
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October 2014
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