hydronics

#WeMeanProgress and #TheQuestforProgress were prominent hashtags and underlying themes at the this year’s Uponor Convention in Las Vegas. “I like the word ‘quest,’ because it represents a journey,” says Bill Gray, president, Uponor North America. “We are on a never-ending journey to bring solutions for everyday problems to our customers. Uponor is never going to Read More

#WeMeanProgress and #TheQuestforProgress were prominent hashtags and underlying themes at the this year’s Uponor Convention in Las Vegas. “I like the word ‘quest,’ because it represents a journey,” says Bill Gray, president, Uponor North America. “We are on a never-ending journey to bring solutions for everyday problems to our customers. Uponor is never going to stop striving to get better and better.”

Getting ready for the keynote.

 

The biennial show continues to get better, and impress. What began in March 2000 as a customer appreciation event for a couple of hundred radiant installers has grown into one of the industry’s largest networking, educational and advocacy events for professionals who install, design and specify PEX in the residential and commercial building markets. Uponor customers, including wholesale distributors, home builders, specifying engineers and plumbing and mechanical contractors, as well as Uponor personnel, independent sales agents and media from both the U.S. and Canada were in attendance.

 

Today, more than 1,200 participants learned, connected and were entertained. The framework of the show features a one-day, all-in educational experience to not only learn more about Uponor’s direction in North America and across the globe, but also features breakout sessions taught by some of the best in the industry.

A few of the educational break-outs I attended included Milwaukee Tools’ Increasing Productivity Through Innovation, where senior product manager, Alex Boll, showed off some of Milwaukee’s latest products and discussed advancements in batteries, motors and electronics, and how Milwaukee is revolutionizing the industry with innovative, trade-specific solutions.

Milwaukee Tool senior product manager, Alex Boll, discusses the latest product offerings from the company.

 

In addition, it is always a good listen to sit in on anything Robert Bean—the comfort guru—teaches. Bean, president of Indoor Climate Consultants Inc., teaches courses related to the business and engineering of buildings, indoor climates and radiant-based HVAC systems. He shares everything he knows at www.healthyheating.com. The breakout, “Designing with Distinction: Strategies for high-performing radiant systems,” was a welcome addition to this year’s Uponor Convention line-up.

In addition to educational seminars, Uponor features a “mini” trade show with industry partners, with Taco, Milwaukee Tools, Navien, Grundfos, Rinnai, Greyter Water Systems, Trimble, among others.

But front and center of the trade show floor was Uponor’s Phyn Plus, which protects your home from leaks the moment it is connected. It then begins to learn how your family uses water as you go about your routine. Over time it gets smarter, unlocking new capabilities and offering you insights. And in the future, it will help you understand and better manage your water.

The convention was the site of the first official training session for an initial group of 100 professional plumbing installers who qualified to join the Uponor Pro Squad. More than 2,500 additional plumbers will participate in training in coming weeks via online and in-person sessions.

“This training was an exciting and important milestone in the launch of Phyn Plus,” said Dena Mayne, vice president, Marketing & Customer Experience, Uponor North America. “Not only did it mark the official commercialization of the device in North America, but the session also enabled us to help this network of professionals advance the plumbing industry into the digital era by using data and insights to change the way consumers think about the water in their homes.”

The Uponor Pro Squad

 

One of the newest participants in the Uponor Pro Squad network is plumbing and HVAC contractor Rich Trethewey, the plumbing and heating expert on the national home-improvement show “This Old House” and its two popular spinoffs, “Ask This Old House” and “Inside This Old House.” Trethewey, who attended the training session in Las Vegas, will feature the Phyn Plus device on a This Old House episode scheduled to air in the fall.

The Phyn Plus display at the Uponor Convention held at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.

 

While spending most of the immersing myself in keynotes and breakout sessions, one thing was abundantly clear, the future is coming, and in many cases, it is already here.

Duh, the future is coming, no kidding! In any event, things like driverless cars to artificial intelligence and robotics to augmented and virtual reality are here already or not too far off in the distant future.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it,” said keynote speaker, Jack Uldrich, a leading global futurist, as he was quoting management consultant Peter Drucker. “The world can change quickly and we need to be aware of it,” continued Uldrich, addressing the convention crowd on the ever-evolving construction industry.

What will the future look like? “Predictably unpredictable,” says Uldrich. The key is embracing paradox, learn to unlearn, recognizing failure as a key to one’s success and understanding that an awareness of one’s experience is a key component to true wisdom. Experience doesn’t really mean a thing if you continue to work or view the workplace the same every day, suggests Uldrich. For example, “Reverse mentor someone with less experience than you to help you see the world differently.”

An attendee goes virtual during a demo at the trade show, donning VR glasses.

 

As leaders, says Uldrich, we need to be adaptable and be flexible to change, and it’s time to start thinking about the future. As professionals, we need to—what Uldrich calls—“jump the curve” to understand how the following trends are transforming the economy and altering our future:

• Artificial Intelligence: SmartVid.IO built out its technology which applies sophisticated algorithms to study video footage of construction sites, says Uldrich. For example, if a worker isn’t wearing a hard hat or a set of stairs doesn’t have a safety railing, the system alerts the site supervisor. “The technology is like having a job site inspector who never sleeps. Even if it prevents one accident, the technology more than pays for itself,” said Uldrich.

• Robotics: One innovative application comes from Built Robotics which uses its ability to excavate foundations. “Instead of using equipment operated by human drivers, why not employ a system that can work around the clock without sleeping or taking coffee breaks?” said Uldrich.

• Virtual Reality: “We need to leverage virtual reality to train the next generation of workers,” says Uldrich. Mortenson Construction is already employing Daqri Technologies’ “smart helmet” technology to allow construction workers to overlay digital information onto actual construction site locations. In a hands-free manner, the technology allows pipefitters, electricians, plumbers and other construction professionals to better understand how to most efficiently complete their jobs.

The ever-charismastic Wes Sisco, senior training manager for Uponor, engages with attendees.

 

• Prefabrication: Industry leaders are using innovative technology to inspire collaboration and design, says convention breakout speaker, James Benham, CEO, JBKNOWLEDGE. For instance, “Prefab is the future of construction,” says Benham.
Tom Palange, J.C. Cannistraro, has said, more and more projects have creative applications for prefabricated components, and the company is well-positioned to adapt as a result of years of training, planning and process improvements. “We’ve fully embraced the modular movement and have made significant investments in equipment and facilities to maximize our capacity to produce modular bathrooms, piping systems, mechanical rooms, hospital headwalls, pump skids, and more … the possibilities are endless,” says Palange

According to Uldrich, these examples are the not only ones revolutionizing the construction industry. 5G technology, social media, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data will continue to converge and, in the process, transform the construction industry.

The message was clear at this event: in terms of tool innovation, construction disruption and high-performance radiant and water systems, it’s time to start looking to the future and think about “jumping the curve.”

For a recap of the convention, check out this link to the video:
https://vimeo.com/265202186/ba1ec09f5c

As we work out our first few installs of the the ADEY MagnaCleanse I wanted to share a few quick videos ProStaff’er Andy Mickelson has posted on his Instagram account. Andy has a older radiant system he’s been working on in Montana that has thousands of feet of Onyx tubing and some major corrosion with Read More

As we work out our first few installs of the the ADEY MagnaCleanse I wanted to share a few quick videos ProStaff’er Andy Mickelson has posted on his Instagram account. Andy has a older radiant system he’s been working on in Montana that has thousands of feet of Onyx tubing and some major corrosion with a terrible buildup of iron oxide within the heating solution.

The ADEY products; the MagnaClean magnetic filter, MagnaCleanse magnetic filter flush station and chemicals all work together to filter an entire hydronic system of efficiency-robbing elements. The magnetic sludge, as you’ll see in the short 60 second video posts can cause failure of system components such as circulators, valves, air eliminators and flow controls; depending on the type of heat-exchanger used at the heat source the debris can even cause total failure from restricted flow and over-heating. Please watch for future posts here on The Hub and our social media pages as I will be installing and using the ADEY products on some of my installs as well.

 

There are three things I want to highlight in this video, not all are totally flattering so please take a look: 1. The 2nd generation M12 Fuel Impact is even better than the first and that’s actually incredible because anyone who’s owned the 1st gen knows it’s a very nice tool. 2. The Smith HE2 Read More

There are three things I want to highlight in this video, not all are totally flattering so please take a look:
1. The 2nd generation M12 Fuel Impact is even better than the first and that’s actually incredible because anyone who’s owned the 1st gen knows it’s a very nice tool.

2. The Smith HE2 copper fintube baseboard is fabulous. The performance is crazy awesome and makes it the best bb on the market for mod/con & electric boilers, without a doubt. Don’t argue with me on this, I’ve tried them all and I’ve installed miles of bb. This is a fact, it’s science.

3. The  Milwaukee Tool dipped gloves (I’m wearing the cut level 1 pair here) are nice but too stiff in the cold for my liking. Also, they’re supposed to have “SMARTSWIPE” index fingers but I can tell you first hand they don’t work on my iPhone 7+ at all. I’m told that this may be due to my screen protector or the angle of my finger. They did however protect my hands against the 750 million cuts I would’ve received from the razor sharp aluminum fins on the bb. They’re priced right in my opinion and I’d have no problem buying more pairs because they fit well and offer the protection I am looking for.

Hope this helps,

Eric Aune

Aune Plumbing, LLC

Mechanical Hub ProStaff

A post shared by Mechanical-Hub (@mechanicalhub) on Feb 4, 2018 at 12:47pm PST

Most of you have been there. Looking up to the heavens with outstretched arms, you exclaim loudly, “Why?!” I’m talking about working in the smallest mechanical rooms known to mankind. How does one navigate them to work efficiently? I asked some contractors and here are some quick tips: Have scene safety. Know your surroundings. Check Read More

Most of you have been there. Looking up to the heavens with outstretched arms, you exclaim loudly, “Why?!”

I’m talking about working in the smallest mechanical rooms known to mankind. How does one navigate them to work efficiently? I asked some contractors and here are some quick tips:

  1. Have scene safety.
  2. Know your surroundings.
  3. Check for sprinklers and smoke detectors.
  4. Pre-plan—Identify better piping routes, remote locate manifolds, pumps and or zone valves, nobody said they all have to be in the mechanical room. Create a scale isometric drawing or 3D model if needed, Google Sketch up works well to help identify shortcomings ahead of install day.
    Planning is key to efficiency when it comes to working with limited space. Pictured here is mid-installation. Photo courtesy of Tim Kuhlman.
  5. Build the mechanical room on paper first, or use a program like SketchUp to have your layout ready before you start cutting and connecting.
  6. Draw your manifolds out and measure twice.
  7. Measure twice, order once. The worst possible scenario is having equipment that won’t even fit in the room, let alone offer service clearances. Time spent planning and trial fitting will pay off in a successful project that can be serviced relatively easy.
  8. Planning is key to efficiency when it comes to working with limited space. When installing a boiler or tankless water heater, visit the site first to take measurements so you can draw a piping layout using a program like HydroniCAD or SketchUp. This allows one to work within the space given and have a plan ahead of time. If at all possible, try to prefab anything and everything so time on site is minimal.
  9. Layer your piping.
  10. Be sure it’s all accessible.
  11. Be the first guy in. There’s an old verse, “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” When in small spaces, change that to, “Do unto others, before others do unto you.” Because it’s gonna happen!
  12. Start big. Mount the equipment and immediately finish the venting, it is always the least flexible material, offering little or no forgiveness. In many cases, we will mount the boiler after the vent has been routed into the room, then the boiler will be fit to the venting. Proceed with the next largest piping.
  13. Get and stay organized. Your tool bags should include: Tape measure, 6″ magnetic level, pliers, carpenter’s pencil, fine tip marker, tubing cutter and pencil reamer and an aluminum speed square. Don’t overdo it and try and “wear” your entire toolbox!
  14. Keep a small space clear of boxes and packaging. A small broom and dust pan for keeping the floor surface clean, a small hand carry shop vac gets all the copper or plastic shavings when you are done.
  15. Look toward combination heating and domestic hot water units. In many cases they may be the only choice. Consider combi boiler DHW units. As long as you or the customer is aware and comfortable with the actual DHW production, they are a real space saver. Isolating/purge valves for deliming the unit are a must.
  16. Check out piping components that serve multi functions in the piping circuits. Combination air/dirt/magnetic separators are an example, or multi function hydraulic separators.
    Photo courtesy of Tim Kuhlman.
  17. Most equipment, valves, etc. require a minimum access clearance. When working in small spaces, it’s important to plan where the boiler, furnace or water heater have to be in order to maintain the required service clearance. Sometimes selecting the equipment to fit the available area is better than trying shoehorn a product that may not be dimensionally suitable into the space.
  18. Check out manufacturers’ pre-piped hydronic modules that mount to the wall and connect to the boiler and distribution. These are essentially plug-and-play modules that eliminate much of the onsite piping labor.  These are often custom orders so plan ahead.
  19. Be aware of venting and combustion air in small space rooms. Consider through the roof for venting and sealed combustion in small spaces. Sidewall venting can be an option; be aware of prevailing winds and condensate drainage.
  20. Really think ahead and make sure what you’re putting in isn’t going to block access to something you’re going have to attach down the road like an electric or gas connection or that one 6″ pipe to nowhere.
  21. Have homeowners move as much out of the way as possible .
  22. Set space aside in garage or elsewhere to stage and build fittings as needed.
  23. Extra manpower will not help!
  24. Charge extra. It’s gonna take longer. You can’t get 2-3 guys in spaces; you’re sending your smallest guy.
  25. Eat healthy. Don’t be the smallest guy.

Of course, this could be a running list. If you have any suggestions you’d like to share, please comment below or email John Mesenbrink: jmesenbrink@mechanical-hub.com.

Thank you to the contractors that added their feedback to this list: Tim Kuhlman, Grasser’s Plumbing and Heating; Eric Aune, Aune Plumbing; Andy Mickelson, Mickelson Plumbing & Heating; Jason Ridgeway, Ridgeway Home Services; Bob ‘Hot Rod’ Rohr; Robert O’Brien, Technical Heating Co.

It’s been two months since I took delivery of the Dewalt DCE200 press tool and I’ve had the opportunity to put it to work on a handful of jobs now. This is a feature-packed tool unlike many on the market today. With capabilities of handling any and all press systems common in North America and Read More

DewaltPress4It’s been two months since I took delivery of the Dewalt DCE200 press tool and I’ve had the opportunity to put it to work on a handful of jobs now. This is a feature-packed tool unlike many on the market today. With capabilities of handling any and all press systems common in North America and Europe team Black & Yellow pulled out all the stops in engineering their first at what I’m guessing will be a team of press tools to come.

First off I’d like to cover the important specs.

  • Capable of pressing ½”-2” copper & stainless steel V-groove fittings
  • Compatible with competitor jaw sets for Iron Pipe [Mega-Press]
  • Compatible with competitor jaw sets for PEX press [Viega/Nibco]
  • 4-ton pressing force
  • Current online pricing searches average $1999.00

I first learned of this tool back in July/August of 2016 at the annual new tool event hosted by Dewalt. When I first put my hands on it I admit I was a little surprised of the physical size overall but after using it for both boiler and tankless water heater installations now I can honestly say the size of the tool has not proved to be an issue at all. Weighing in at 7.16lbs without a jaw it is lighter than other comparable tools common on the job today. Ergonomics may be a slightly different story and I do carry a bias toward in-line design press tools. This tool is front-end heavy, loaded with anything over 1″ jaws and it will not stand on it’s own. That may be partially due to the small footprint of the 20V battery or the handle angle and placement. Either way its a strain on the wrist and requires two hands to steady the tool most of the time.

Features

This pistol-grip press tool is packed with some new innovation to the market that should prove useful to many contractors working on commercial & residential projects alike. Notably, Dewalt’s proprietary software system Crimp Connect. This free software download allows the owner/user to connect the press tool via the onboard mini USB port providing ability to print detailed reports of the date, time, force, and successfully completed cycles of the presses completed by the tool as well as the tools calibration and service history.

DewaltPress2Located on the top rear of the tool you’ll find a somewhat familiar interactive panel where the tool’s power is controlled along with LED light indicators showing the successful completion of a single press, battery indicator, low & high temperature warnings. There’s even a “service required” indicator light telling the user that the tool has reached the cycle limitations.

While the power panel is not unique to press tools of this caliber, the Crimp connect feature is. An added feature I found interesting is the double trigger.

DewaltPress3The bottom trigger controls the start and completion of the press cycle. Dewalt went with a “manual” cycle operation here. You’ll need to depress the trigger completely for the duration to complete the press cycle. Cycle time is anywhere between 4-6 seconds depending on the diameter and type of material being pressed. The unique second trigger, the top trigger can be used to release the press cycle at any point. This is useful when a cycle has started but the operator decides [far various reasons] to stop the press. When pressed fully, the top trigger will release the pressure in the hydraulic cylinder and allow the ram to retract quickly. This would allow for repositioning of the tool or fitting when needed, potentially saving a fitting from incorrect attachment to the piping.

A shoulder strap and ring attachment point are included with the tool. Dewalt states in the manual that it should be used for transporting the tool on the jobsite. Some feedback I have received from other plumbers is the strap may be useful when working on a ladder, a situation that often lends to the possibility of dropping a tool like this….I’ve done that and it wasn’t pretty.

The tool is made in France but the jaw set is delivered to Dewalt from Germany. Dewalt is offering a 3 year limited warranty, 1 year service and 90 day money back guarantee. You’ll most likely have to order this tool from specialty tool suppliers offering the whole Dewalt lineup. You can also look to plumbing and mechanical supply houses for stock as well.