Grandpa Beringer lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression, but that didn’t affect his great attitude. Maybe that great attitude and endless smiles were the results of seeing challenging times through his lifetime.
Grandpa was entertaining. He talked with ease as he put corncobs or wood in the wood-burning stove. Grandpa would strike the wood matches on nearby surfaces to light the match for his pipe. Sometimes he would continue telling a story or joke as the match burned down toward his fingers. It was sort of mesmerizing.
The wood-burning stove was nice and warm as we faced it in that living room. Temperatures throughout that farmhouse were considerably lower in other rooms. Extra blankets were a necessity in the bedrooms. It wasn’t unusual for outside walls in a closet to have frost on them.
In 1961 Grandma and Grandpa Beringer moved from their farm to Bellwood, Nebraska to retire. Their Bellwood home had an oil-burning stove, which was much easier to operate and put out steadier heat, especially in that hot living room.
Grandpa seemed to enjoy that excessive heat until ninety-one years of life eventually caught up to him. Memories of his great attitude and smiles linger on as an inspiration for what life is really about.
I learned important life lessons from my grandparents, although the heating lessons learned were they lived through some uncomfortable times that were not very healthy.
Looking back, the wood-burning stove and oil-burning stove were anything but healthy. The wood-burning stove left unhealthy smoke in the air. The oil-burning stove left an oil odor. The air was not filtered properly. A teakettle sat on top of both stoves to control relative humidity levels that fluctuated substantially.
It’s an understatement to say we have evolved dramatically in heating and cooling technology. We can enjoy any temperature we desire in any area of our homes. The supply air can be filtered to .1 micron, which will filter out pollen, spores, mold, pet dander, smoke, dust, and the list goes on.
Today we can also enjoy healthy relative humidity levels between 40% and 60% that reduce the effects of colds, viruses, upper respiratory congestion, watery eyes, fatigue, dizziness, rashes, asthma, molds, damage to furniture, and again the list goes on.
HVAC systems today allow us to be comfortable in every room in our home or business if we have properly sized ductwork that is balanced to match the size of the rooms and heat load needed.
Do you have uncomfortable rooms? Nebraska temperature changes give us heating and cooling challenges that typically require substantial adjustments in airflows as seasons change.
Maintaining comfort requires ductwork systems to be “flipped” seasonally by adjusting the dampers or registers. Without proper adjustments to reduce airflows in basements in the summer, basements will be cold and upper levels will be hot as they starve for cold air supplies. Reversing those adjustments in the winter will improve comfort too.
A trained HVAC technician with the proper balancing equipment can typically correct airflows to eliminate uncomfortable rooms if the ductwork is properly sized.
One challenge is ductwork is often sized too small because it’s cheaper to install and sadly enough the low bid usually gets the jobs. The result is those heating and cooling systems typically function, but there are uncomfortable hot spots or cold spots during temperature extremes.
A solution for improperly sized ductwork is to increase the overall airflow in addition to balancing out the entire system. The airflows needed for each room vary by the size of the room and heat load, so airflow balancing equipment helps improve accuracy. For instance, if a room has a Southern exposure and a large window area, it will take substantially more airflow for cooling during warm summer months.
Dirty ductwork also slows down airflows. Clean ductwork reduces dust particles on the furniture and keeps the HVAC system operating more efficiently, while extending equipment life. It’s important to get ductwork cleaned.
I was truly blessed to know my grandparents and through time have gained a better understanding of their “messages” in life. They went through the school of hard knocks and were shaped through sacrifices we hopefully will never experience. One lesson to consider is we have many around us today that may be nearing the end of their lives that have important messages to share. Maybe we need to call them and enjoy what they have to offer!
Have a great Thanksgiving!