50-Year-Old Pennsylvania Home Gets a Mechanical Boost
Written on: June 1, 2021 by John Vastyan
A grassroots effort that began in Missouri many years ago is changing lives across the U.S., and the world, one family at a time. Love INC—with a mission to mobilize churches and to transform lives and communities—has set its sights on improving the lives of families in poverty by offering “Homes for Hope,” transitional housing for those in need, entirely through volunteer effort.
Recently some good folks in the HVAC and hydronic industry learned about a Love INC Homes of Hope transitional housing project in Lititz, PA from a local affiliate based in Lancaster (loveinclancaster.org). The suburban 1970s home still had its original HVAC equipment, so it was well overdue for a mechanical makeover. The volunteers quickly saw an opportunity to help improve comfort levels, and energy efficiency, for the soon-to- move-in family of four.
Early in the project, local volunteer Rick Thompson, a Warwick Township Homes of Hope committee member and St. James Catholic Church member, asked friend Douglas DeAngelis, LAARS Heating Systems’ Eastern Atlantic Regional Manager, for some advice to help at this new Homes for Hope property. Its HVAC system’s equipment—an old, inefficient and leaking air conditioning system, and the original gas-fired furnace—were testing their resolve.
The location for installation work, now a residence serving those in need.
DeAngelis visited the home to find that there were multiple problems with the ducted system, not the least of which was the system’s inefficiency, even if properly repaired.
Knowing that comfort and energy efficiency could be achieved with a retrofit, DeAngelis took into account the possibility of eliminating the home’s existing, gas-fired water heater. He then contacted a LAARS distributor and friend, Charles “Chuck” Evans, for assistance in understanding the air-side of the HVAC system. Evans is with Houston, TX-based Goodman Manufacturing, and is the Philadelphia region parts manager for Goodman Distribution, Inc.
Triangle’s Refrigeration Field Service Supervisor Chad Heisey (left) and Eric Weaver, Triangle’s Business Developer, set the Mascot FT boiler in preparation for near-boiler piping.
An intriguing recipe
“When I made my first visit to the house, I was glad to see that it already had clean and well-installed sheet metal ductwork for year-round HVAC,” said DeAngelis. “We had a good foundation from which to work.”
DeAngelis then called Thompson with a recommendation: to eliminate all of the old equipment and to replace them with a new, high-efficiency, two-ton Goodman condensing unit and air handler paired with an A-coil for cooling. The key components for space-saving and domestic water heating included a natural gas-fired 140 MBH LAARS Mascot FT floor-standing combination boiler/water heater with an integrated, stainless steel indirect water heater, as well as a hydro-air coil to be mounted just above the air handler’s A-coil.
Eric Weaver prepares to commission the system.
Thompson was intrigued. “Douglas DeAngelis gave me a basic explanation about how the equipment would work together, and that it would provide reliable cooling and heating, and also eliminate the need for a separate water heater, because that was sure to be the next need.”
While Evans spoke with Goodman managers about possibly donating equipment for the good cause, DeAngelis asked managers at LAARS to donate the floor-standing Mascot boiler. Both were successful.
Thompson responded that he also had some good news. A steering committee member connected with managers at Leola, PA-based Triangle Refrigeration Co., a nearby commercial and industrial mechanical contracting firm that had previously sponsored their ministry; they were also eager to help. Several employees stepped forward to assist with the installations.
Also, in the course of their work, Triangle purchased a Bindus Aquecoil hydronic heating unit, programmable thermostat, low-ambient lockout sensor and a variety of supplies and materials—all donated to the Homes of Hope project in Lititz.
It wasn’t long before all of the materials, and the skills and expertise, were available to complete the mechanical makeover.
Enter Triangle Refrigeration
Managers of Triangle’s HVAC division got wind of the need for installation work at the Lititz Homes for Hope project, telling the committee that, if help was needed, they’d gladly provide the time and expertise. Committee members responded with a resounding Yes.
“We had decided that our involvement was to be a corporate gift, so it was only fitting that some of the managers would do the work,” explained Eric Weaver, Business Development Manager for Triangle.
Weaver’s brother Dwain Weaver, Director of Refrigeration Operations; Janson Zima, HVAC Project Manager and Chad Heisey, Refrigeration Group Field Service Supervisor, joined forces with Weaver to do the work at the Homes for Hope project.
“We were—well, at least I can speak for myself—perhaps a bit rough, having set aside field work some time ago,” added Eric Weaver, who joined Triangle in 1994 as an HVAC installation apprentice. “So it was a good ‘back to our installer roots’ experience.”
“This was a fairly routine project as far as the work goes, with the use of hydronic heat applied a bit creatively to provide heat in a home that had previously been served by a strictly forced-air system,” said Dwain Weaver. “It was a good departure from our routine work, and we were all very glad to help with the Homes for Hope project.”
Importance of relationships
“In our ministry, relationships are key—relationships between church volunteers and neighbors in need; relationships among churches, relationships with people across many denominations and relationships throughout the community,” explained Shawn Moyer, Lancaster Love INC Homes of Hope Coordinator. “That’s why we’ve seen the development of such great relationships in communities through our Homes of Hope program—a transitional housing outreach ministry that seeks to end homelessness one family at a time.”
Eric Weaver (left) and Janson Zima, Triangle’s HVAC Project Manager, take satisfaction in a job well done.
As a non-profit organization, Love INC needs healthy local relationships to help others throughout the many U.S. communities in which it operates, and now in Kenya, as well.
According to Moyer, there are currently eight active Homes of Hope communities operating 11 homes in Lancaster County. Partner churches provide financial and volunteer support for the homes.
“Also, we work in partnership with local schools, community resources and agency partners to provide a holistic response that strives to break the cycle of homelessness,” he said.
“Ideally, our transitional homes provide families shelter for four to six months,” concluded Moyer. “This period of time—with subsidized living costs, and with volunteers helping to get their finances back in good order—then enables them the time to begin overcoming the obstacles that led to homelessness, initially.” ICM
John Vastyan is Owner of Common Ground, an HVAC/plumbing + mechanical trade communications firm based in Manheim, PA.