Tidewater Tech Blog

Cool for the Summer: Tips to Keep Yourself Cool While on the Job

By Esperanza Poquiz Edited by Jul DeGeus 

With a date of June 21st, summer is right around the corner. For some of us, this means pool parties, lazy days on the beach and outdoor fun in the sun. But for others, “summer” has a darker meaning; a cruel time period in which one must to stay indoors to seek shelter from the blistering heat. If your opinion happens to relate to that of the latter, these tips can help keep your home at its coolest, without breaking the bank:

Let the Wind Blow

Using fans may seem like the most obvious tip on how to stay cool, but here are two little secrets that most people do not know about:

There are two settings on a ceiling fan; one to have the fan rotate clockwise and the other to have it rotate counter-clockwise. Setting your ceiling fan to spin counter-clockwise allows the hot air in the room to rise upwards and out, that way the hot air doesn’t cycle around the room.

If you do not have a ceiling fan, no problem! For those using a portable fan, make sure to have the fan facing out and away from the room that you are in. Doing this will pull out the hot air and redirect it into another room.

If you have both a ceiling and portable fan on hand, try combining these tips for optimum coolness!

Turn off the Light

Televisions, lamps, computers and laptops, OH MY! These, along with most other electronics, give off heat when being used. If you have the T.V on, shut off all other electronics that are not in use. Having only one or two electronic devices on can reduce the heat in your area, allowing for a more comfortable binge watching session. If you want to make sure you are fully benefiting from this tip, try unplugging unused items as well. Not only will this help cool your home down, it will also help save energy and possibly money when your next electric bill comes round.

Drink the Water 

Water is one of the best ways to ensure that you stay cool. Drinking the suggested amount of water for your weight guarantees that you will not become dehydrated. It’s suggested to divide your weight in half to get the number of ounces of water you should drink per day, but the best way to find your “magic” water ounce number is to consult your doctor. Keep a hand towel soaking in cool water near you to keep from overheating. When starting to feel warm, wring out the towel and use it on your head and pulse points.

Cotton as a Coolant

Cotton is always the go-to fabric during the summer season. It’s more breathable than other fabrics, like polyester or silk. This fabric combined with loose fitting clothes will allow for maximum comfort, especially when the temperature rises. Changing your bedspread and sheets to cotton material is another way to make sure you don’t wake up drenched in summer sweat.

Foods that Refresh

Altering your diet to ‘summery’ foods is a healthy way to stay cool. Swap out the comforting winter foods, like casseroles, pot pies and soups, for more refreshing foods, like salads, fruit and veggie platters, and yogurts. Not only will eating lighter help your body stay cool, it cuts back on using the oven and the heat that comes with it. Grilling out with friends is a great way to have those hot meals without increasing the indoor temperature.

Now that you are equipped with these simple tips, you can enjoy ‘chilling’ at home. Whether you’re reading your favorite book, watching your favorite series or even doing work at home, these tips can help ensure your house is the coolest one on the block.

Do You Know Your Eco Building Materials?

Do you know which building materials are more eco friendly?
In a world filled with greenhouse gasses and pollutants, every step to a greener future is a good one.
Click each tile below to see if you have what it takes!


Correct! Wrong!

Stone is a natural heat conductor and is naturally occurring. This is a more ecofriendly choice than tile, as tile are usually chemically infused for color.


Correct! Wrong!

Compact Fluorescent Lamps have a wattage of 60-75 LuMens per Watt (lm/w) while Linear Fluorescent Lamps have a wattage of 104 lm/W, making Compact Fluorescent Lamps the more efficient choice.


Correct! Wrong!

Cellulose is made of recycled newspaper and fire retardant. Foam is easily contaminated, therefore it cannot be recycled.


Correct! Wrong!

Mycelium is a completely natural material made of fungi and mushrooms that grows around other organic substances to create light but sturdy bricks. While concrete is made of only three materials (water, aggregate and cement) cement is chemically produced.


Correct! Wrong!

Standing Seam Metal Roof are fully recyclable, and can be made out of recycled materials. Asphalt, when in its molten state, gives off toxic fumes.


Correct! Wrong!

Triple Panel Windows while they use more recycled materials, they save more energy in the long run. The third sheet of glass helps keep the cold in and the heat out in the summer or vice versa for the winter, saving HVAC energy.


Correct! Wrong!

GeoThermal Heating and Cooling Systems do not use fossils fuels while Gas Space heaters do.

Air Conditioning

Correct! Wrong!

Thermally driven units utilize advanced solar panel and heat dispersion technologies to integrate old and new cooling methods far superior to electrically charged ones.


Correct! Wrong!

Strandwoven fibers of renewable bamboo are two-and-a-half times more strong than oak.


Correct! Wrong!

Insulated concrete is made with a mixture of 100% recycled wood fiber and cement, which is more environmentally friendly than the carbon monoxide releasing properties of Iceynene.

Do You Know Your Eco Building Materials?
You Passed!!
You have what it takes to become an ECO HVAC expert!

Share your Results:

What is the Difference between Regular Unleaded and Premium Gas?

Most car owners get all kinds of different answers when it comes to choosing regular unleaded gas or premium gas. This seesaw debate among industry players has been dismissed by some as the equivalent of watering a tree in rain; it’s pointless. There is no difference between regular and premium gas to them.

Then there are those who say their cars run better on premium gas because of the many benefits, like fuel economy and engine performance; its higher price is justifiable. Some claim that “difference” is a marketing gimmick to get you to pay more for your fuel.

With all this kind of information, it’s difficult to know which fuel to use. Read on as regular unleaded and premium gas options are deciphered.


Source: Pixabay

Unleaded Gas

Unleaded gas is literally gas without any lead in it. As common a term as it may be, this was not always the case. Tetraethyl lead was introduced into gasoline in the 1920’s, primarily to reduce engine knock and improve fuel octane levels and efficiency. Back then, gas was just gas with no additives. However, it was soon found that lead was a pollutant and neurotoxin that damaged emission control equipment.

Unleaded fuel was introduced in the 70’s after leaded fuel was banned in the USA in 1996. Older cars that ran on leaded fuel have since been modified by most owners.


Regular unleaded gas (RUG) – is the most common type of gas used around the world. It’s a by-product of crude oil that is highly flammable, with an octane rating of 87.

Premium gas- is often referred to as “high octane” because its 90 or higher octane rating. It’s an unleaded, crude oil by-product with detergent additives and less polluting characteristics.

Differences between RUG and Premium Gas


Octane Rating

Octane rating refers to the ability of fuel to withstand improper combustion in an engine. Normal internal combustion engines work by compressing an air and fuel mixture that is ignited to create a controlled explosion. If the mixture ignites before it should, it leads to pre-ignition, which is commonly referred to as “knocking.” This occurrence can reduce performance and destroy some engine parts.

Premium gas can withstand pre-ignition better when compared to RUG, hence, a higher octane rating to signify this capability.


Actual prices differ depending on location. However, premium gas is arguably more expensive with a range of 20+ cents more per gallon. For a person who frequently uses their car, this can be up to hundreds of money in a year.


Regular gas burns faster and is suitable for low compression engines or low performance cars that do not require a lot of power. Premium gas burns slowly and is recommended in high compression engines found in high performance cars.

Finding the Right Fuel


Car Manual

Car manuals often indicated the recommended fuel by the manufacturer, although, it does not mean exclusive use, unless stated.


Drive the car with both kinds of fuel. Just make sure you exhaust one before refilling with the other.

Other Tips

There are instances when it is advisable to use premium fuel, like in rough terrain or when transporting heavy cargo. Find out more on these instances, as well as fuel saving tips and accessories.

While premium fuel can be beneficial, its major difference with RUG is in octane rating, pricing, and engine suitability.

Tidewater Tech Teacher Appreciation Day: Mr. Musey and Mr. Kelley

By Damika Howard-Wayne

John Musey III

The Tidewater Tech Instructor of Year, John Musey III, lives by the motto, “Once a job has once begun, never stop until the job is done. Do it big, little, or small, do it right or not at all.”


This is evident in everything Mr. Musey does, both inside and outside of the classroom in the Building Maintenance and Repair (BMR) program at Tidewater Tech. Mr. Musey built a mock kitchen in the BMR lab that allows his students to experience removal and installation of sinks, garbage disposals, counter-tops, and kitchen faucets. His latest addition to the BMR lab is the installation of a functioning electric water heater. During his breaks between classes, Mr. Musey is either tutoring students that need additional assistance or working with students around the building to instill real-life work experiences. His contributions to the BMR program and Tidewater Tech truly change student lives’ and everyone at Trades appreciates his stellar accomplishments.


Steve Kelley

The Tidewater Tech Coordinator of Year, Steve Kelley, lives by the motto, “Amateurs practice until they get it right…Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”


Mr. Kelley is an educator who works to close the achievement gap. His students come with struggles in school and life, but he works diligently to help them achieve accomplishments greater than their expectations. With his weekly checkup meetings, Mr. Kelley is a leader in collaboration at our school. It’s typical to see colleagues in his room at lunch or after school asking for advice. You can always find Mr. Kelley involved in some sort of activity that promises to better his students or the campus.

Basic Car Care 101: Quick Tricks to Care for Your Car

To some of us, a car is our baby; we put work into it on the weekends, regularly wash and vacuum it and make sure that people take their shoes off before getting in. To others, it is simply a way for us to get from point “A” to point “B.” But whether your car is your pride and joy or just a mode of transportation, these are maintenance items every car owner should be aware of:

Maintaining Your Tires

Source: Pixabay

Similar to the tread on the bottom of your shoes, a tire’s tread is what keeps your cars on the road and going in the direction you want. You should check your tires once a month to make sure that they aren’t worn down to the point where they don’t get any traction with the road.

If a tire’s pressure is under-inflated, it could cause damage or even a flat tire. It also takes more gas to power a deflated tire. Check your car’s tire pressure once a month and use the car manual to determine the necessary amount of pressure to inflate the tires to.

Tire rotation, balance and alignments are three techniques to evenly distribute wear and potentially expand your tire’s life. They’re usually preformed around the same time as an oil change, or refer to the car’s owner manual for more guidelines.

Check Your Oil

Monitor your oil level regularly to see if you need more oil or should change it. Start by positioning your car on a flat surface and ensure the engine is off.  Remove the dip stick and check that the oil marking falls somewhere between the appropriate markings. If it is below, add more oil. The color is also an indicator for a change. If the color is transparent, your oil is newer. If the oil is black, that indicates it is dirty and should be serviced. Check your owner’s manual to find out how often you should check your oil and mark your calendars.

Break Check Signs

It’s important to know the signs to look for, or listen for, regarding your breaks. Schedule a regular checkup if you find yourself sitting in traffic on your day to day commute or if you tend to drive a lot. It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment if you experience any of the following signs while using your breaks:

  • Smelling an unpleasant odor
  • Vibrations in the steering wheel
  • Pulling to one side
  • Screeching
  • Slower break reaction time


Under the Hood

Source: Pixabay

It’s a good idea to pop the hood and gaze over your engine once a month. You don’t have to be a trained auto mechanic notice a once white air filter is now brown or that a hose or belt has a tear in it. Just taking a peak under the hood regularly can help prevent potential damage.

Raise the Shields

Finally, make sure that your windshield is crystal clear by regularly cleaning both the inside and outside pane of glass.  Windshield wipers should be changed once in the fall and once in the spring, unless otherwise damaged. Bends in the wipers or tears in the rubber could obstruct the driver’s sight.

To learn even more ways to service your vehicle, think about training with Tidewater Tech to become an automotive technician.

DIY: 10 Checks to Make Before Calling for Air Conditioner Repair

It’s quite embarrassing for you to request air conditioning (AC) repair services only for the technician to come out, look at the system and flip an obvious switch. Some common central air conditioning problems have simple solutions. If you find something isn’t right with your AC unit, save time and money by conducting these simple checks before making that call to the repair man.

  • Check your circuit breaker

: Flickr scottbb

If your AC doesn’t start, this should be among the first places to look. The circuit breaker is normally found in the main electrical panel, though it can sometimes be placed in secondary circuits. Look to see if it has tripped and put it back on. A u

sual cause for tripping is your AC draining too much power. However, if this happens frequently, consult your electrician.

  • Is your thermostat working properly?


Source: Flickr- Advanced Telemetry

Your conditioner may not turn off when the room temperature reaches that set on the thermostat. If your thermostat does not display any figures, and shuts down the whole system when you set it to heat, consider getting a replacement.

  • Have you checked the capacitor?


Source: Youtube- RepairClinic

The capacitor starts the condenser and the fan in the compressor. Defective capacitors cause the motor to overheat and eventually shut down. If the motor fails, the system will not run completely. Be sure to have ruled out power supply and gadgets like the thermostat and circuit breaker before checking out the capacitor.

  • Do you have noisy ducts?

Source: Max Pixel

Many heating and cooling ducts are metallic in nature. Track along the lines and listen for any sound. You may find some panels have not been tightened enough. If noise persists, consider flexible insulation that absorbs vibrations.

  • Is water dripping at the base of your air handler?


Source: Thinkstock

If the answer is yes, it may be leaking from one of the pipes due to blockage. Algae are a common cause of blockage. Use a vacuum pump to suck out the water or completely replace the pipe with a new one.

  • What of your condensate pump?

Source: Medispensersystems.com

Your pump should come on automatically with the help of a ball float that rises with the water level. If it does not start, it is either clogged or totally broken. Clean it out thoroughly and test if it works in case of clogging.

  • Is your pump overflowing?


Source: Instructables.com

Your condensate pump may be running but not discharging water. There is usually a check valve before the discharge tube. Check to see if it is blocked and clean it.

  • Does your indoor air handler produce noise?


Source: nachi.org- eferraioli

Your air handler may grind, squeal or buzz. Belt driven motors can have their belts worn out hence the squealing noise. On the other hand, some motors may use ball bearings that do not provide for greasing. Once the bearings are worn out, they begin to produce grinding noises.

  • Is your air conditioner running but does not cool well?


Source: Thinkstock

This problem may be caused by limited airflow to the system. A good place to check is the air filters, registers, and the compressor. An AC air handler can jam because of low refrigerant levels and dirty filters among other things.

  • Check the safety switch


Source: Picclick.com

Some AC units come equipped with a safety switch or “emergency stop” button. Located directly on the unit or affixed to a nearby wall and resembling a light switch, make sure the toggle is resting in the “on” position. If it is not, flip the switch and your AC unit should resume its function.


Help your air conditioner run smoothly by doing regular DIY checks yourself. In cases where you cannot detect the problem, call in a technician for AC repairs. Periodically schedule maintenance for your system. If you’d like to train

100 Watts Smile: The Grinning Librarian

April 4th is National School Librarian Day and Tidewater Tech Trades would like to recognize our Librarian Assistant, Tiffany Watts, for her outstanding work managing the Learning Resource Center and coordinating the Penn Foster students on campus.


Ms. Watts graduated from Norfolk State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is an outstanding resource for students and faculty. No matter what the task, Ms. Watts performs to the best of her abilities and with a smile on her face. Thank you for making the campus brighter with your cheer!

-Tidewater Tech Staff


Funny Cars are No Drag

Three Ladies Who Switched Gears in the Auto Industry

By Esperanza Poquiz & Jul DeGeus

When we say “automotive industry”, who is the first person that comes to mind? Is it Karl Benz or Henry Ford, two of the most popular automobile engineers? Maybe it’s a competitive driver, like A.J. Allmendinger or Jeff Gordon. Heck, if you have little ones racing around the house, you’re probably thinking of Lightning McQueen or Tow Mater from Cars. These people, and characters,  have had a huge impact in the automotive world, making them well known household names. They also have something else in common; they’re all male.

There are many women who have made significant changes in the automotive industry. It’s just pretty hard to think of a woman who has stamped her name in automotive history. Women, like Florence Lawrence and Nellie Louis Goins, often get overshadowed when it comes to this prominently male dominant field. Today, we’re giving some women the recognition that they deserve in honor of Women’s History Month.


Florence Lawrence

Florence Lawrence, or “The First Movie Star”, was the first filmed actor to be publicly named. While the young actress was most known for her roles on the screen, she became a director of the road through the creation of two of the most common driving tools we use today. Noticing that there were many automobile accidents happening, she invented her own version of our modern day turn signals: “auto signaling arms”. Flags on both sides of the vehicle were raised or lowered by the operator of the car pushing a button, indicating to other drivers which way you were turning. Lawrence’s second invention is what we know today as brake lights. She painted the word “Stop” on a sign to let people know that she was slowing down or coming to a halt. Unfortunately, Florence never patented her inventions, which caused them to fall into the hands of mass producing companies. 3


Helene Rother

In 1943, Helene Rother became one of the first women to succeed in a man’s industry as the first female automotive designer. She was hired by General Motors, working on upholstery colors and fabric, door hardware, seat construction and lighting.  She joined Nash-Kevinator from 1948, creating elegant interior designs that were advertised as “irresistible glamour on wheels”. Having a keen sense of fashion, Rother emphasized her elegant designs through coordinated colors and the addition of trim, resulting in a new female audience for the automotive industry. In 1951, she was awarded the Jackson Medal for excellence of design and became the first woman to address the Society of Automotive Engineers. 1


“Nitro” Nellie Louise Goins

One African American woman who made automotive history is “Nitro” Nellie Louise Goins. In the 70’s, Goins was a funny car, or drag racing car, owner and driver, who attended many drag-way race events. Her car of choice was the A/FC Barracuda, also known as the “Conqueror”, and later she sported a Mustang funny car.  Goins was known for the work she did on her cars, like welding and drilling their fiberglass bodies. Once quoted for saying, “It began as a dream and prayer”, Nitro Nellie turned her dreams and prayers into her reality. 2

Women have been involved in the automotive world for so long, but their accomplishments just don’t seem to have the same impact on car enthusiasts as men’s do. Leaving lasting contributions in safety, design and sport, females continue to exceed expectations in this male driven world. So now, the next time you are asked about a “who” in the auto industry, perhaps the first person you’ll think of will be the actress who came up with two solutions to reduce the number of accidents occurring on the road. Or maybe you’ll think of the female who, instead of limiting design to offices and buildings, created the sleek and fashionable interior of a car. If thrills are your thing, then the woman who couldn’t resist the need for speed and wouldn’t let anyone stop her from racing could be the thought that pops in your head. Regardless of who does come to mind, we hope that learning a little about these women has inspired you to look deeper into the achievements of women in every industry. Happy National Women’s History Month!



  1. Rezucha, K. (2016, August 23). Female Inventors and Innovators: 5 Automotive Trailblazers. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://blog.esurance.com/female-inventors-and-innovators-5-women-automotive-trailblazers/
  2. Tate, R. (2014, February 03). MotorCities National Heritage Area – Story of the Week. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://www.motorcities.org/Story/One+Hundred+Years+A+Highlight+of+Women+In+the+Automotive+Industry+br+By+Robert+Tate+Automotive+HistorianResearcher-339.html
  3. Wright, M. (2017, March 15). 10 Women Who Shook the Auto Industry. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/girl-power-10-women-who-shook-the-auto-industry.html/?a=viewall