Few would collect pictures of ugly plumbing, heating, and cooling installations, but I do. Beautiful pictures are nice, but as a professional in the trades, there is something truly special about the ugly plumbing and HVAC installations.

My favorite ugly plumbing picture was a leaking cast iron sewer pipe that had a coffee can repair clamped on it, with a pencil stuck in a rust hole in the coffee can! There was even a “stalactite” type of leak that developed at the bottom of the pencil. That’s nasty!

Of course, there is always the runner-up pictures like the toilets that are mounted on elevated platforms, or “thrones” as we call them in the plumbing trade. The thrones make it possible to hook the toilet sewer piping into the sewer stack cleanout plug. Those installations do not meet the City code.

It’s a never-ending hobby to discover ugly plumbing because there are so many “inventors” that can quickly piece installations together if they have enough plumbing fittings. They keep plumbers busy fixing their “masterpieces!”

A good example is a handyman that reduced a 1 1/2” bathroom lavatory drains to a 1” drain. There were other problems like major water leak issues, which caused the $30K bathroom to remodel to turn into a loss for the owner and no recourse.

There are also plenty of ugly heating and air conditioning pictures available too. I have faith there always will be picturesque samples as long as human nature drives some to attempt to outsmart the system.

With those thoughts in mind, the winning picture of my “ugliest heat pump contest” is on this page. This “inventor” decided to put window screen material around their heat pump to catch cottonwood seeds and other debris. As they say on TV, “please do not try this at home!”

The tight mesh screen by itself reduces airflows through the heat pump, which dramatically increases the temperature of the compressor and fan motor. The plugged screen probably choked off airflows completely, but there was a gap on top that helped a little.

The heat pump may be a winner of the ugly picture contest, but it is not a winner overall because energy efficiency is reduced to approximately a 30% maximum, and the equipment is on a quick path to total failure.

Sadly, the heat pump in the picture is a high-efficiency Trane heat pump, which started in life as a superior product. Trane heat pumps are beautiful units when not covered up by a plugged mesh screen and are installed properly.

Trane has an impressive testing laboratory in Tyler, Texas. Trane puts equipment through rigorous testing, which helps them develop quality products.

Most manufacturers have various clearance recommendations that may call for up to 24” of clear space on 3 sides. It’s essential to maintain those clearances and keep vegetation away. It’s best to put a decorative rock on the ground around outdoor units to establish a 3’-0” protected area.

The heat pump in the picture appears to sit fairly level. Heat pumps need a ¼” of slope per foot to allow drainage of defrosted water in the winter.

Trained HVAC technicians can help eliminate risks like in the picture. In this case, a planned service maintenance agreement probably would pay for itself 10 times over or more with just the first service.

The plugged screen is obvious in the picture, but the reality is many outdoor cooling units look good externally and also have plugged coils.

All HVAC equipment needs to be serviced at least twice a year in Nebraska. It’s important to get cottonwood seeds removed from outdoor equipment in the summer. It’s also the responsible thing to do to reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning before cold Nebraska winters when homes are closed tight.

It’s never been more important from energy efficiency and environmental standpoint to have HVAC equipment serviced regularly. Worldwide carbon dioxide levels in the air recently reached a 400-ppm milestone, which is the highest level it’s been in 2 million years.

Some may discount the causes of global warming and the overall deterioration of our environment, but the evidence is all around us.

Well-maintained HVAC equipment can make a difference! Has your equipment been serviced or will it end up in my picture collection?

company icon