FAKE ELECTRICIAN JAILED In July, an unlicensed “electrical contractor” was handed a five day jail sentence from a provincial court judge, plus a $40,000 fine from Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority, for completing hazardous pot light work with no license and no inspection. When we reported this online we got the following complaint right away from a contractor reader. We agreed with him and amended our story. “Please don’t call him an electrical contractor!” The article starts: “A Brampton, ON electrical contractor felt the full force of the law…” That’s an insult to legitimate contractors everywhere that are licensed, insured and take out permits. There’s no way this guy should be referred to in this way. Klaus Another post on the same topic… “Glad they stuck it to this guy!” I love this. I am a fully licensed electrician, and I am always fixing bogus work done by hacks! I am glad they stuck it to this guy… Yes, send the message out! Albin Wandeler And one more post we received on this issue… Why are there no photo Ids of tradespeople? Re: the unlicensed “electrician” who was jailed. A while ago I asked for electricians and other compulsory tradespeople to have a license photo ID or a driver’s license incorporated with it. But there is no need for alphabet soup regulatory agencies. Nor do the compulsory trades in the Ontario College of Trades need inspections of their work. Simply give customers the chance to identify the real contractors from the crooks. Then if they allow themselves to be defrauded that should that be their fault and nobody else’s. Oliber SAFETY Nail guns are one of the best inventions our industry has seen in recent decades. We recently wrote about how to handle them safely – which is not difficult if you follow a few common-sense rules. He was blinded in left eye by a nail gun As someone who was blinded in his left eye from a nail gun, I can personally attest to their danger, and the cavalier way many tradesmen handle them. I was 19 when the accident happened. I had received almost no training. And never once was it mentioned to me that I should wear safety glasses. Now with 20 years as a safety specialist in construction, it is nice for me to see that things are starting (ever so slowly) to change Samuel Livingstone WORKERS’ COMPENSATION If we published in print every negative post we got about Ontario’s WSIB, we would have a magazine as thick as a phone book (remember those things?). Contractors from other provinces, please bear with us while we restrict ourselves to just two posts about the Ontario workers insurance monopoly this month… “WSIB forced me out of business” The WSIB had overcharged me on my last three years of business before I had to close the doors from all these government fees. They are still hounding me for one last payment and yet they refuse to credit me the thousands they owe me from overpayment. Some BS about not being able to go back past one year of payments. They won’t hesitate to bring up an “adjustment” payment you forgot to make from five years ago, however. We have made no claims ever in 15 years of business and never saw a rate decrease but we knew if we made one claim our rate was sure to double up. The WSIB is a scam and it will destroy other small businesses like it did mine. To add insult to injury to contractors in Ontario, add in a tax hike, a promised $15/hour minimum wage from Kathleen Wynne and that massive increase in electrical costs. All this means that a zero-skilled-labour worker has to be charged out to customers at $30/hour for a contracting business to break even. My workers in my six years in business made more money than me. I did the calculations and I would have made more money if I was on welfare and doing cash jobs. It’s a despicable government we have here. John Doe And here is one of many replies to this post… “Gouging and bullying small businesses…” Very respectfully, I am saddened to hear of another small business closing their doors. I am a permanently disabled worker who was nearing retirement anyway, thankfully. In my early years I also had a small business for nearly ten years so I understand the frustration felt by all who need to deal with Ontario’s WSIB. Let us simply start off by stating WSIB is CORRUPT and this is what has been happening. WSIB gouges and bullies small businesses. It is a complete lie that WSIB can only go back one year when you make a request for information. You can and should request your complete file from WSIB. WSIB only works for WSIB. Here are some facts that injured and disabled groups have that should make small business owners in Ontario equally angry. WSIB claims that higher premiums were necessary to cover their multi-billion dollar “unfunded liability.” These are bills that WSIB might eventually have to pay: not today but years in the future. WSIB rebates are regularly paid to multinational corporations that wipe out the expense of WSIB premiums paid into the plan by them. Small businesses are carrying the full burden of WSIB since they do not have the political influence that multinationals have. [Many] injured and disabled workers today are completely denied any loss of earnings benefits, medical and prescriptions under the guise of [various WSIB] policies. So what happens to these monies, since accidents victims are not getting them? These are used to pay WSIB employees much more than what they would make anywhere else. The rest is invested into funds that make money that the government can access to balance their books or other government pet projects. In Saskatchewan, premier Brad Wall has used these so called surplus funds created through claim denials by that province’s WSB plan to balance the provincial budget. This is fraud and thief. Premiums are paid by workers and the contract should be binding to pay beneficiaries. Disabled workers are suing the WSIB. Join them. Small businesses and workers are all victims of this fraud on the public. Go to www.fightwcb.org for more information. Ontario citizens deserve better government. WSIB is run by Elizabeth Witmer, the former Tory minister. The NDP in Alberta has capped the wages paid to its WSB workers and has been trying to return that province’s WCB to its founding principles. C. Hawkins BUILDING ENVELOPES Our contributing editor John Bleasby wrote a series of online posts recently about the technical aspects of passive houses. In addition, in our last magazine, we carried a special supplement on Building Envelope Technology. A couple of online posts continued the discussion. “Plastic bag moisture-trap homes” John, I appreciate your posts and follow them very closely. However, I would like to give my input to your post where you assert that “Homes don’t breathe: people do.” Saying a house should ‘breathe’ is not wrong. A real breathing home has a somewhat permeable wall/roof system. This cannot be provided with any foam insulation and petroleum-based membrane products. This can only be achieved with “real green and sustainable” products like wood fibre insulation and similar products. All of us were told as toddlers never to put plastic bags over our heads. Obviously, we wouldn’t survive, right? Why then do we want to live in a ‘plastic bag moisture trap home’ instead of a comfortable and healthy environment? Nevertheless, a great air ventilation system is a great asset. Andreas Herrmann Here is a post in response to Andreas. The Grenfell Tower fire in London, UK, killed more than 80 people in June of this year. Blame has been placed on the flammable exterior cladding on the 24-storey residential high-rise. Andreas Herrmann makes good points. The Grenfell Tower insulation/cladding contained the energy equivalent of 30,000 litres of gasoline and gave off hydrogen cyanide. Other examples of costly mistakes in the pursuit of energy efficiency without due diligence include leaky condos and asbestos and urea formaldehyde insulation. In addition, if in the near future we are able to harness unlimited energy from the sun via technology (Tesla shingles, better batteries) does it matter if homes are superinsulated? Casey Edge, Victoria Residential Builders Association HRV SYSTEMS John Bleasby's posts last month also included a technical discussion of HRV systems. Here is a post from a homeowner with problems with their unit. Noisy HRV driving homeowner crazy We have just built a house to passive house standards and have put a balanced ventilation system in. I cannot tolerate the sound that the HRV makes. The ducting in the house carries the sound of the motor through the house and also transmits sound from one room to another. There must be a system out there that does not make such a noise? The contractor says if I don’t like the noise don’t use the HRV. But as your diagram indicates an HRV is essential to a super insulated home. Eve Here is John Bleasby’s reply… Possible solutions, Part 1 Eve, I’d get your mechanical contractor in to have a look. My HRV unit is suspended on straps from the joists above, so the unit cannot reverberate against any stud walls. Is yours? Also, your unit should have variable speeds you can program from the master keyboard. Maybe yours is set for a high speed, hence the noise? Just some random thoughts. The HRV should not be so noisy as to bother you! John Possible solutions, Part 2 This is a topic that too many future homeowners really like to ignore, or are not aware of. I used to sell Zehnder units for passive houses, and it’s a requirement for these units to be very quiet and properly installed as to not transmit any mechanical noise into the walls. I’ve had a few customers replace their units with ours, because they ended up turning the units off due to the noise. In an airtight house, that’s really not a good idea. My advice? Pick a quiet unit to begin with, mechanically isolate it from the walls it is mounted on (i.e., hang it on extra studs that are not coupled to the drywall, or special rubber decouplers, hanging a unit by a chain can still transfer noise into the ceiling, unless you have springs in there, even then it may still transfer noise through the ducting etc.). Also, use absorbers in your supply AND return lines: the noise can travel upstream through the ducting. Also pay attention about room to room noise transmission. In a home run system, where all the runs go back to a sound absorbers attached to the unit, it is much harder for any noise to travel between rooms. Lastly, sizing the unit too small can also be an issue. If you are running your unit at the max to reach the desired ventilation amount, the fan blades can be really noisy. If you oversize the unit and run it at a lower rate, they can be very quiet. Careful though, not every unit lets you set the speed in small enough increments to properly balance the ventilation of the house. So it really pays to pay attention to the fine details. I know some of the whole house systems can get pricey, but what is much more expensive is to buy an improper system first, only to realize later that you should have gotten the proper one in the first place. Hans Eich "Solar with storage is the future" Solar with storage is the future. Therefore, solar capture must be considered in the design of new buildings. It makes no sense use valuable resources on expensive insulation and mechanical systems. The average roof space can convert sunshine into electrical energy. It will provide energy for lighting, appliances, heating and electric car charging. The average home with a proper design can support 50 solar panels on a 1,000 sq ft. Roof. This solar array on an average home will produce 15 megawatts per year. This same roof space in B.C. provides enough rain water catchment for a family of four. So why are we talking about over the top building codes? Design our buildings properly for clean energy and water capture. Why not? It comes from the sky for free. Dennis Olson
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