Although you won’t see it for a few weeks, as I write this, the November midterm elections have just concluded and pundits are just starting to interpret the results. As you likely know by now, the Republicans took commanding control of the U.S. House and significantly strengthened their numbers in the U.S. Senate, which remains under the power of Democrats.

I spent many of the days leading up to the election traveling to trade shows, which means I was able to watch the political television battles between candidates such as Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and tea party/GOP challenger Sharon Angle firsthand. I can also attest that politics was a popular discussion topic among attendees of shows such as Metalcon and the Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International. HARDI even held seminars focused on the political landscape for 2011 and beyond.

So what does all this mean for the industry? It’s hard to say, although a clearer picture should emerge in a few weeks as Congress finishes up its work for 2010 and new committee heads take over.

The groups involved in sheet metal and HVAC are not always easy to predict in terms of the issues and candidates they support, but we will be doing our best in our magazine - and especially online with our daily website updates, and Facebook and Twitter posts - to keep you informed.

Letters - Worker sees it all at new job

As a new ventilation inspector for the city of Chicago, and with over 38 years in the trade, I thought I seen it all and nothing would surprise me. Little did I know.

Would a radiator installed in a HVAC unit shock you? Would you call the area on top of the radiator a “bypass”? Would a window shaker cut into a rooftop unit be able to replace the cooling coils and work? The owner was proud of his work.

Would bullet holes in a glass-block window be able to meet code for outside-air requirements?

The one inspection that stands out involved a high school. I noticed as I entered that the lobby, hallway and classrooms smelled like a kitchen. I asked the building engineer if they had a type No. 1 hood and if the kitchen exhaust fan was running. He said the fan was on. Then I asked if the hood was a compensating hood or if the makeup air was tempered. He had the look of a deer with headlights of a Mack truck in his path. After a few minutes he said he had something in the basement, so I said let’s take a look.

In the basement was the makeup-air unit - but the doors were open, the filters were not installed, the control was off the dampers and it was not running. I told the building engineer that this unit has to be up and running. He said his chief told him to shut it down because it was too much work to keep it going. I then ask to talk to the chief engineer. He said he retired 10 years ago.

So this unit has not run in 10 years?

“Oh no,” he said. “We shut her down way before that.”

When I worked as a foreman for one of the area’s largest sheet metal contractors, I noticed the only similarity between architectural, mechanical and shop drawings were coincidental. When every piece of ductwork becomes a design-and-build project, it is time to ask for the Visine. The shop would always ask why I need Visine. My reply would be by the end of the week my eyes are tired from rolling them.

In this new job as a city ventilation inspector, I know the Visine is in the house somewhere.

Ralph Spyer, inspector

City of Chicago

Sheet Metal Workers Local 73