Although the housing market has been at a low level for some time, the building industry in 2014 is showing positive signs of growth.
Even if new homes are not being built in great numbers, existing homeowners and owners of small commercial buildings are faced with replacement, upgrading and repair of heating and cooling equipment.
Fuhrmann Heating & Cooling, Inc. of Brillion maintains a steady schedule of service work and is keeping very busy with answering routine and emergency calls. Sales Manager Andy Geiger said, “Gaps in work orders have not been the case.”
According to Geiger, service tune-ups have been strong through fall and winter with additions and remodeling work keeping the firm busy along with new commercial construction projects.
While they service most products, Fuhrmann is primarily a Carrier dealership and has received numerous awards from Carrier acknowledging its quality work.
Bids picking up
Responsible for handling all bids, Geiger said he sees an increased number of bids on home plans for spring and summer construction projects. With interest rates remaining low and existing home prices down, home buying is an attractive option for many people wanting to buy low and give themselves extra leverage to do renovations and upgrades.
Fuhrmann’s mainstays consist of commercial and residential heating, air conditioning, boiler systems, radiant in-floor heating, forced air heating and cooling, geothermal, wood, and oil. “Most of our work is in new construction and existing homes, performing a nice mix of retrofits and remodeling work,” Geiger said. “About 80 percent of our business is forced air heating and cooling.”
Commercial work has been fairly strong consisting of both remodeling work and new construction. A recent example is the Allouez Sunrise Village Residential Care Apartments (RCAC) which provides affordable and luxurious senior living. Fuhrmann is installing the heating and cooling system for the new construction.
Central air is now standard in nearly every new home and can also be added to existing homes. Homes that have hot water heat and are without duct work can be a bit tricky to air condition and can be costly, according to Geiger. The ductless split system air conditioners work well in those situations if duct work is not feasible and is very affordable.
In-floor heat popular
Very popular in today’s homes is radiant or in-floor heat. It is often called for in basements of new home construction even if the owners do not plan on using it, Geiger said.
Fuhrmann does a large number of in-floor retrofits in cold floor areas and warms the area with radiant tubing either under the sub floor or in a concrete slab. Geiger said it is most efficient if tubing is installed in concrete or some type of conductor of heat, as opposed to wood which is a non-conductor source. Tubing in concrete produces an awesome heat, warming one’s feet and moving that warmth into the entire body, Geiger said.
According to Geiger geothermal is catching on in some areas as different fuel types and different utility rates determine the feasibility of that type of investment. There are certain areas that offer low electrical rates and when compared with higher fuel rates those areas are very appealing and offer a faster return on the investment than areas with higher electrical rates. Depending on rates that you are paying for natural or LP gas as opposed to the same amount of heat with geothermal determines the payback, Geiger said. “All our geothermal systems have been done in new construction. A retrofit is more of a burden and more costly,” he said. “With geothermal we like to do a dual fuel geo system so when the geothermal runs down to a certain temperature, then the fuel (natural or LP gas) system will take over to keep down the cost of the geothermal.”
With today’s new home construction built tight and insulated so well, if indoor air is not exchanging with outside air it could create health problems such as excess moisture and mold issues. “Air exchange units are very common today,” Geiger explained. “We do a lot of that. Our firm also does duct cleaning and the venting of other appliances such as the clothes dryer.”
Turn to Fuhrmann/page 24