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A post to honor the brilliance of my late Grandfather, Gordon Epps.

"I want to go back to college." Those were the words that started my HVAC career in 2010. During a call to my Dad one afternoon after being laid off from work at a high end custom cabinet shop in Charlotte. "What do you want to go back for?", he asked? "I want to go for accounting." I responded. I was very good with numbers and math so this seemed like a fitting way to exit the trades (I had been involved with different trades since graduating high school). Finding a nice secure office job seemed like a good idea. "Go for heating and air conditioning, your grandfather enjoyed it very much and was quite successful at it", my father replied.


Now this was no secret, over the years, I had seen my grandfather working on HVAC units (installing one in my childhood home in Audubon Pennsylvania), he taught HVAC at the local school, and was always helping someone with something mechanical. I had even gone with him as a small boy, only five or six years old, to "help" install a water heater. My job was to be in front of the dolly and "not let the water heat slip down the stairs" (I would have been crushed to death if it had!) Seriously!? Good times and better memories, indeed.


In fact, the trades run deep in my family, even beyond myself and my grandfather. Several uncles and cousins are involved in the construction industry in one fashion or another (shout out to my cousin Sara, whose husband Casey, is an HVAC guru). My grandfather's brother started Epps Plumbing and Heating in Wayne PA (shout out to Uncle Alan, Aunt Ellen and my cousin Shaun for keeping Uncle Teddy's dream alive and thriving!) We are a family of helpers and servers, that were all taught from my Great Grandfather, Big Pop, on down through the younger generations today, that you are to always take pride in your work, even when no one can see what you've done. That pride is more gratifying when the work is done correctly and is the best the work can be done.


Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before my father and I had the conversation about my return to college and journey into the HVAC field. I would have loved to have been able to talk HVAC with him, especially now that my true inner HVAC nerd has fully formed. My grandfather was many years ahead of his time with HVAC knowledge. Once I had gotten some years of installation and service experience, I gained a strong understanding of the use of "Zoning". For those who are unfamiliar with the term as it relates to HVAC, zoning is when a single heating and cooling system is used to condition a specific area or "zone" inside of a structure while not needing to condition other zones inside of the home. The most common example of zoning seen in construction today is a two story home with a similar square foot print on both floors, a single heating and cooling system with a thermostat to regulate temperature and air flow to each floor (zone) by controlling a mechanical damper located in the duct system through a zone control board (I know thats a mouthful, if you have questions reach out to us and we can clear it up for you).


One year on a trip to Philadelphia for our annual family reunion (another creation curated by my grandfather, the famous Epps Family Picnic) I was helping my dad with something in my grand parents laundry room when I noticed an elaborate board mounted to the ceiling with pumps, relays, transformers and several low voltage wires running from different areas of the house (this started as a little tiny house that ended up with a giant addition put on in the 70's). I asked what it was and my Dad wasn't sure, so we started investigating. What we had noticed in the ceiling was my grandfathers version of a zone control panel for an oil boiler using hydronic baseboard through the entire house, including a hydronic heated kitchen floor! The original main house had its own thermostat, the second floor of the addition had its own thermostat and the lower level of the addition has its own thermostat, all wired for heat only which sent 24 volts to energize a relay that turned on a circulating pump to move hot water from the boiler in the downstairs closet through which ever zone thermostat had an active call for a heating cycle. This discovery absolutely helped drive my passion for HVAC. To see something that I had never seen before, in a house that I had been coming to my entire life was incredible. Even more incredible was that I was able to understand what my grandfather had accomplished in the 1970's, decades before the zone systems we know today were even released by the folks at Honeywell and Trane (two of the best zoning systems out there in my very humble opinion). As Dad stood there listening to me explain to him how Grandpop had the hydronic zone system all set up to work and keep the house comfortable without overshooting temperature in other parts of the home, it dawned on me how brilliant of an idea my grandfather had put together so many years ago.


Needless to say, I did end up going back to school for HVAC and graduated from CPCC with my degree in Heating and Air Conditioning Technologies. I hope to share the type of brilliance my grandfather used in zoning his home over 50 years ago, to help the customers of Epps HVAC Company solve their heating and cooling problems. If you think zoning your existing HVAC system is something that would help you stay more comfortable in your home by keeping the temperature controlled in differently in different zones, contact Epps HVAC Company today to see how we can help you gain comfort through education! Cheers everyone!


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