2012 July-August

  One of Florida’s oldest and largest manufacturers’ representative firms now has a brand-new look. Harry Warren, Inc. – an Orlando-based firm founded in the 1960s – recently completed a rebranding program that supports its statewide growth strategy. “We are in a new era for the plumbing industry, and we wanted a look that reflects Read More

 

One of Florida’s oldest and largest manufacturers’ representative firms now has a brand-new look. Harry Warren, Inc. – an Orlando-based firm founded in the 1960s – recently completed a rebranding program that supports its statewide growth strategy.

“We are in a new era for the plumbing industry, and we wanted a look that reflects both today issues and tomorrow’s opportunities,” said Bob Mycoff, president, in an interview with Florida Plumbing Perspective. “For instance, our team understands the growing importance of water conservation and other ‘green’ solutions in the residential and commercial markets.” For Harry Warren, Inc., the change to its logo and graphics is just one of the steps forward the firm is making this year. The rep firm is adding new personnel, exploring new applications for its product line and updating and adding more features to its website (www.harrywarren.com). “Online, social and mobile communications are becoming increasingly important to everyone in the plumbing industry,” Mycoff said. “Therefore, we have updated our site to support those informational tools and create more functions and interactive features for users.” For example, the new site includes photos of the firm’s inside sales and service personnel, along with a brief description of their roles.  “Someone who talks to an inside sales person can see that person’s picture,” Mycoff said. “We think it’s important to be able to put a face with a name or a voice on the phone. It’s also a time-saving feature, since a customer can see exactly who to contact for their needs.” Mycoff adds that the new site also readily identifies the various channels that Harry Warren Inc. services, an important service because there are often overlapping individual responsibilities. “From showrooms to water systems to high-end residential projects, we want to make it as easy as possible for users to connect with the right people,” he said.  

Adding new people

In addition to refreshing its image and adding new online capabilities, Harry Warren, Inc. is expanding its team. In the past year, the firm has added another 13 people to its organization, which includes separate companies in Florida and Georgia that cover the Southeast region and beyond. “One of the important internal steps we’ve taken is bringing in several new people, fresh out of college, and putting them through an aggressive training program to help them understand our industry,” said Mycoff. “To bring them up to speed, we are also having our veterans coach them about the techniques of selling, how to service our customers and the various roles in our industry.” Mycoff adds that the infusion of new professionals has been particularly helpful in developing the new communication channels and enhancing the delivery of customer services. “They bring a passion for service to our company and are helping us stay ahead of the curve.” At the same time, Harry Warren, Inc has brought about several long-time industry professionals who balance the exuberance of youth with the seasoning of experience. Currently, the company has 36 members of its Florida team, including:

“This is very much a people business, and our professionals – young and old – are committed to building those relationships,” said Mycoff.  “Our team is excited about our recent changes and they bring that enthusiasm to work every day, along with a strong sense of serving our customers and local communities.”

A regional leader

It was back in the late 1960s, when Harry Warren founded the firm that bears his name. In 1990, he sold the firm to his daughter Leigh and son-in-law Mycoff, who have guided the firm since then. “Our agency was founded with the goal of making sure customer satisfaction was synonymous with the Harry Warren name,” said Mycoff, who joined the company as a salesperson in 1979.  “Harry had high expectations that his business would be successful. His vision of success began with hard work, honesty and integrity. The principles and examples that he employed for nearly half a century still exist in our agency. Under Mycoff’s leadership, the firm was named 2007 “Representative of the Year” by the nationwide publication Supply House Times. Harry Warren, Inc. also received the “Golden Regulator Award” as the manufacturer’s rep of the year for the Watts Regulator Company, part of the Watts Water Technologies family. Mycoff was named to the AIM/R’s board of directors of AIM/R, a trade association of independent sales representatives in the plumbing, heating, cooling, and piping industries. In the 2000s, Harry Warren, Inc. opened new offices in Tampa, Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Kernersville, NC. In addition, the firm is the authorized representative for many lines in the Caribbean and Central America. “Our Georgia company covers Alabama and eastern Tennessee, and mirrors Florida in every aspect with very similar line cards,” Mycoff said, adding that the firm covers North and South Carolina in the water systems category. “We’ve grown our Atlanta operations very significantly in the past two years, and now have 26 employees there,” he added. “That combination is particularly helpful to our dealers in northern Florida and southern Georgia with customers in both states.” Looking ahead, Mycoff said he expects the firm to continue expanding its operations, particularly in the luxury residential sector. “We expect to see further expansion of our current categories, as we continue to focus on serving the needs of Florida’s plumbing designers, engineers, contractors and builders. We are committed to remaining a leader in our state’s plumbing industry.”

Harry Warren Inc.’s Current Lines

Residential
• A.O. Smith Water Heaters
• A.O. Smith Water Systems
• American Standard Brands
• Arrowhead Brass
• Crane
• Dormont
• Eemax
• Elkay

Luxury Showroom Channel
• American Standard
• Arrowhead Brass • Blücher
• Decolav • Elkay • Eemax
• In-Sink-Erator • Jado
• Porcher
• Webert
• Fiat
• In-Sink-Erator
• Wal-Rich
• Watts

Commercial / Industrial

• A.O. Smith Water Heaters
• A.O. Smith Water Systems
• Acudor
• American Standard Brands
• Blücher
• Bradley
• BRAE
• Conine Manufacturing Co.
• Cooper B-Line
• Crane
• Decolav
• Dormont
• Eemax
• Elkay
• Halsey Taylor
• Orion
• T&S Brass
• Taco
• Watts

Well & Septic Channel
A.O. Smith
Arrowhead
Campbell Septic Products Inc.
Service Wire Snyder Industries, Inc.

Changing Attitudes Create New Opportunities for State’s Plumbing Professionals A substantial decline in South Florida’s water consumption in recent years may signal a change in consumer attitudes toward the state’s limited natural resources. “A water conservation ethic is being developed throughout South Florida as more and more people realize the value of water,” said Mark Read More

Changing Attitudes Create New Opportunities for State’s Plumbing Professionals

A substantial decline in South Florida’s water consumption in recent years may signal a change in consumer attitudes toward the state’s limited natural resources.

“A water conservation ethic is being developed throughout South Florida as more and more people realize the value of water,” said Mark Elsner, administrator of the water supply development section, South Florida Water Management District, in an interview with Florida Plumbing Perspective.

That means the state’s plumbing professionals can take advantage of incentive programs to help retrofit residential, commercial and government facilities, and to educate homeowners about the importance of water conservation, Elsner added.

Statewide, Florida’s five water management districts develop water management plans with particular attention to areas like South Florida, where demand historically exceeds available traditional freshwater supplies. “We then look at developing strategies to meet those demands,” Elsner said.

In April, the district’s Water Resources Advisory Commission presented its 2012 Lower East Coast Water Supply Plan Update, which covered six specific sources of demand:

• Public water supply, 49 percent of the 2010 total demand

• Agriculture, 37 percent

• Recreational/landscape, 9 percent

• Industrial/commercial, 3 percent

• Domestic self supply, 1 percent

• Power generation, 1 percent

Using population statistics and projections from the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR), the April report analyzed per capita water use for the 5.6 million residents of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties.

That analysis showed daily per capita demand fell from 176 gallons in 2000 to 163 gallons in 2005 and 140 gallons in 2010 for the four-county region. That meant the 53 water utilities serving South Florida had to provide 83 million fewer gallons a day in 2010 compared with 2000, even though the area population increased by 600,000.

“That’s a substantial drop in consumption,” said Elsner. “It’s encouraging that the decline in usage is a long-term trend.”

Looking ahead to 2030, the district’s report projected that the total regional demand would grow from 787.2 million gallons per day in 2010 to 933 gallons per day in 2030. However, that later figure represents a 19 percent improvement over previous forecasts.

Elsner said there are several reasons driving the steady drop in per-capita consumption.  A slower economy has made Florida residents more conscious of their utility bills, providing a financial incentive to use less water. The introduction of tiered rates that increase with greater usage has also spurred South Florida residential and commercial users to cut back when possible.

Another contributing factor was the imposition of restrictions on outdoor water use during a period when the region’s rainfall was well below normal levels. County and municipal governments limited lawn irrigation, car washing and other outdoor uses to one or two days per week during periods of drought. In 2010, both Miami-Dade and Broward made twice-weekly lawn watering rules permanent.

 

Water-conserving technology

But much of the reduction in demand has been due to new water-conserving fixtures and other technology, Elsner said. “Under today’s building codes, new homes use water far more efficiently than in the past,” he said. “Today’s homes are also built on smaller lots, so the outdoor component of water demand isn’t as great.”

Elsner points to aggressive conservation measures taken by the region’s water supply utilities, including offering incentives and rebates for installing new toilets, showers and fixtures in residential and commercial facilities. “Plumbing contractors can explain to homeowners how those incentives provide immediate benefits, along with the long-term savings from installing more efficient systems,” he added

For instance, Miami offers rebates and exchanges for high-efficiency toilets and showerheads and homeowner association irrigation systems. “Miami-Dade County is a poster child when it comes to conservation, investing millions in new technology” Elsner said. “By reducing demand by 30 million gallons a day, the county was able to reduce its capital spending program for alternative water supply sources by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

To the north, Broward County has a water supply partnership with more than a dozen municipalities and utilities that are collectively promoting water conservation, Elsner added.

In addition, the South Florida Water Management District’s cost-sharing Water Savings Incentive Program (WaterSIP) provides assistance to municipalities and large commercial and industrial users seeking to implement innovative technology-based water conservation projects. Award recipients are reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the total project cost or a maximum of $50,000.  Types of projects that have received funding in previous years include automatic line flushing devices for hydrants, indoor plumbing retrofits, large area irrigation controls, and soil moisture and rain sensor technology for irrigation system

As Elsner said, “We must all work together to conserve water and develop alternate sources of supply in order to meet the future needs of the South Florida region.”

by Rich Grimes Water Solutions Marketing I have had many projects where lack of combustion/ventilation air has been the issue. It reminds me of how many installations I have seen like this. Surely more than I can remember… Lack of air on a water heater is similar to lack of air on a car or Read More

by Rich Grimes
Water Solutions Marketing

I have had many projects where lack of combustion/ventilation air has been the issue. It reminds me of how many installations I have seen like this. Surely more than I can remember… Lack of air on a water heater is similar to lack of air on a car or small engine. Poor combustion results in lost efficiency and more hazardous emissions. Symptoms such as sooting and constant flame failures can be indicators of air issues. Imagine a candle snuffer that does not touch the wick of the candle, but it captures all of the heat from the flame. The flame uses up all of the air inside the small candle snuffer and the flame cannot maintain combustion. Soot is produced as the fresh air is used up by the flame. Gradually, the flame is extinguished due to lack of combustion air.

 

In this article we shall discuss combustion and ventilation air requirements for gas-fired appliances. Combustion and Ventilation Air requirements are set forth in the National Fuel Gas Code and typically apply to Atmospheric or Fan-Assisted Combustion. As we discussed in previous articles regarding venting, Category IV appliances typically have a direct air intake from outdoor, negating the need for separate combustion/ventilation air louvers in the wall or door. Separate Air Intake systems for gas-fired appliances are specified by the manufacturer and must be part of the vent system approval.

 

PRINCIPLE

Gas-fired appliances require adequate Intake Air for Combustion and Ventilation. There are two methods for sizing Intake Air. The Standard method is used almost exclusively, requiring a minimum volume of 50 cubic feet per 1,000 BTU/hr. The second is the Known Air Infiltration Rate Method. This method is rarely used and requires calculations based on atmospheric or fan-assisted combustion and air change per hour.

The movement of air between two louvers allows fresh air to enter the mechanical room and be circulated. A larger, single louver can be utilized to allow enough air to enter and circulate. Each particular air intake arrangement has its own sizing based on the total BTU input of all appliances in the room and where the air is communicated from. The sizing of combustion and ventilation air is specified in the National Fuel Gas Code / NFPA54 / ANSI Z223.1 Section 9.3.

 

REQUIREMENTS

The intake air sizing is based on the total BTU input of all appliances and is determined by the following installation parameters:

 

AIR FROM OUTDOORS (TWO PERMANENT OPENINGS)

This method requires two (2) permanent openings. One opening is located within 12 inches of the top of the enclosure and the other is located within 12 inches of the bottom of the enclosure. These openings must communicate directly, or by ducts, with the outdoors or spaces that freely communicate with the outdoors:

1) Where communicating directly with the outdoors (LOUVERS) or through VERTICAL DUCTS, EACH opening shall have 1 Square Inch per 4,000 BTU/hr, the total of all appliances.

Example: 200,000 BTU Heater = 200,000 ÷ 4,000 = 50 Square Inches Free Area per opening.

2) When communicating directly with the outdoors through HORIZONTAL DUCTS, EACH opening shall have 1 Square Inch per 2,000 BTU/hr, the total of all appliances.

Example: 200,000 BTU Heater = 200,000 ÷ 2,000 = 100 Square Inches Free Area per opening.

 

 

AIR FROM OUTDOORS (ONE PERMANENT OPENING)

This method requires one (1) permanent opening. This opening is located within 12 inches of the top of the enclosure. This opening must communicate directly, or by Vertical or Horizontal ducts, with the outdoors or spaces that freely communicate with the outdoors:

1) Where communicating directly with the outdoors (Louvers) or through Vertical or Horizontal Ducts, EACH opening shall have 1 Square Inch per 3,000 BTU/hr, the total of all appliances.

Example: 200,000 BTU Heater = 200,000 ÷ 3,000 = 66.67 Square Inches Free Area opening.

2) The minimum free area must be not less than the sum of the areas of all vent connectors in the space.

 

AIR FROM INDOORS (TWO PERMANENT OPENINGS ONLY)

This method requires two (2) permanent openings. One opening is located within 12 inches of the top of the enclosure and the other is located within 12 inches of the bottom of the enclosure. These openings must communicate directly via Louvers, with an indoor space that is adequately ventilated:

1) Where communicating directly with another interior space, ON THE SAME STORY, VIA LOUVERS, EACH opening shall have 1 Square Inch per 1,000 BTU/hr, the total of all appliances.

Example: 200,000 BTU Heater = 200,000 ÷ 1,000 = 200 Square Inches Free Area per opening.

2) Where communicating directly with another interior space, ON A DIFFERENT STORY, VIA LOUVERS, EACH opening shall have 2 Square Inch per 1,000 BTU/hr, the total of all appliances.

Example: 200,000 BTU Heater = 200,000 ÷ 500 = 400 Square Inches Free Area per opening.

 

ALTERNATIVES

There are a few options available such as engineered installations and mechanical air intake fans. Mechanical air intake systems can provide a controlled air intake. These systems employ a Power Air Fan that will force fresh air in at a given CFM. These must be interlocked with ALL appliances to insure that combustion air is being provided and proved prior to burner ignition. There are also many products that can utilize Direct Air Intake through a fan-assisted/power burner combustion process and separate air intake pipe. These heaters and boilers have become very popular because of their multiple vent and air capabilities. High Efficient appliances that utilize PVC and other plastic vent materials are great options when combustion air is limited.

 

CONSIDERATIONS

Many restaurants operate in a negative pressure within the building. This is mainly due to exhaust hoods that extract smoke and fumes from cooking. These exhaust fans are extremely strong and can cause burner operational problems. They will draw up and consume the combustion air needed for proper operation. If you open a door to the outside, air rushes into the building.

Equipment such as atmospheric stoves operate properly because they are located directly beneath the exhaust hood and all available air is drawn by them. A water heater or boiler that is located in another part of the restaurant can experience sooting, leakage of combustion products and flame failures due to this lack of air. The big problem is that leakage of combustion products equals spillage of carbon monoxide in the restaurant. The vent stack for the heater becomes an air intake pipe and air is drawn down from the rooftop. When the heater fires, the combustion exhaust spills out at the draft hood as it cannot be drawn up the vent pipe. It is very common to see atmospheric gas heaters choking in this type of installation. A smoke test at the draft hood of the heater will help indicate if flue products are exhausting properly. The test should be performed with the burner on and off and with the door open and closed. A burner that is starving for air will burn very yellow or orange in color. When the air pressure is relieved by opening a nearby door, the burner flame should be blue in color with slight yellow/orange tips.

These situations can be resolved with heaters that allow for direct air intake. Just because there was an atmospheric heater originally installed, replacement may be better suited to a higher efficient heater that allows or requires direct air intake. Restaurants are not the only buildings that can have negative pressures. The same problem can occur in a small mechanical room where an exhaust fan has been installed. This has the same effect, just in a smaller application. Unventilated closets can produce the same problems.

Louvers should also be checked for free area of square inches. Many louvers can restrict the free area and sometimes a larger size louver is required. Mesh screens should not be placed over louver openings as they will clog up and eventually create an air issue. Double-faced louvers can cut free area by one half, requiring twice as large of a surface area compared to an unrestricted, full flow louver.

 

SUMMARY

All of these are extremely hazardous installations because they put the inhabitants in direct contact with combustion exhaust containing carbon monoxide. Combustion and Ventilation Air is often overlooked and should be investigated and accounted for when installing any gas fired appliance. Combustion and Ventilation Air are crucial to a good, safe installation.

I hope that these articles are helpful to you and we look forward to seeing you in the next issue!

Thanks,

Rich Grimes

by Rob Spence (Mechanical Engineer) and Abigail Cantor (Chemical Engineer) Introduction This article is part of a series discussing the growth of microorganisms in plumbing systems.  As previously noted, microorganisms can grow and thrive in a plumbing system when water that enters a system is not used for a long time.   This article looks at Read More

by Rob Spence (Mechanical Engineer) and Abigail Cantor (Chemical Engineer)

Introduction

This article is part of a series discussing the growth of microorganisms in plumbing systems.  As previously noted, microorganisms can grow and thrive in a plumbing system when water that enters a system is not used for a long time.   This article looks at sizing pipes and tanks in order to minimize the volume of water stored on-site and the residence time of water in the plumbing system.

Current plumbing and home designers are at odds with this desire to reduce system volume.  New homes and bathroom remodels are incorporating multiple head showers, body sprays, and large whirlpool tubs.  This drives up the plumbing system requirement with larger pipes, water heaters, water softeners, expansion tanks, and filtration units.  Many times the added capacity is only utilized a fraction of the time, which results in very long residence times.

Fixture Units

Residence time can be addressed first in design by considering “fixture units”.  The Plumbing Code assigns a fixture unit to each type of device in the plumbing system so that pipes can be properly sized with adequate flow and pressure to each fixture.  The plumbing designer must tally up all the fixture units serviced by each segment of the piping system (hot, cold, combined, branch, and mains) and size the pipes accordingly.  Therefore, as we add bathrooms, whirlpool tubs and extra shower heads, the pipe sizes must get larger.

Let’s contrast a typical home with 2 ½ baths utilizing single shower heads to a luxury home with 3 full baths and two ½ baths.  One of the luxury baths will have a rain head shower and a hand-held spray plus six body sprays, as well as a 75 gallon soaking tub.

In our example, the luxury house fixture count would require 1¼” supply line and 1” hot and cold mains with a 1” branch just to the master bath.  The shower alone could have a fixture count as high as 15.  In contrast, our standard home would only require a ¾” main.  Note that the 1¼” supply pipe in the luxury house has over six times the volume of water per linear foot than the standard ¾” supply pipe.  The Code doesn’t allow us to reduce the pipe size in these cases, but there are things we can do to reduce the load on the pipe so that the number of fixture units are lowered and the pipe sizes are calculated to be smaller.

Consider using diverting valves in shower systems rather than volume controls or separate valves on each device.  This lets the user choose only one of the multiple heads at once rather than the ability to have all functions at the same time.  Some of the pre-assembled shower towers utilize this functionality as well as low flow body sprays, so they only require ½” supply lines.  Contrast that with a luxury shower with individually mounted body sprays, which would require a 1” equalization loop going to all six locations. As you can see by utilizing a shower tower or diverting valve you only have to count one of the devices in the shower, which reduces the pipe sizes in the shower, branch circuit, and even the mains.  This choice reduces piping system volumes as well as labor for installation!

One other plumbing option to consider for reducing pipe volume is a “home run system”.  This is a design where manifold pipelines host connections to groups of fixtures instead of each fixture connection branching off from the main piping all through the building.  This type of system utilizes individual ½” or ¾” lines to each fixture or bath group.  The design will typically increase the overall linear feet of piping, but because it is smaller diameter pipe, the system volume is less.

Hot Water Tank Volume

As with considering fixture units, the Plumbing Designer must also adequately size a hot water heating system to handle all the potential flow. The Code states that the design “must provide adequate hot water for peak load”.  With traditional tank-type systems, our luxury home might need to be designed with several hundred gallons of storage.  We’ve all heard it:  “This is a high end customer and they don’t want to run out of hot water”.  So, the system is designed with multiple large tank-type heaters or a boiler system with several indirect tanks.  All of this hot water is sitting and waiting for one or two days per year when it is really required.  It makes sense to consider tankless water heaters that do not store any hot water.  It is true that in some cases, it will require two or three tankless water heaters.  But, the risk for damaging biofilm growth is greatly reduced.

Educate the home owner of the risks of over-sizing the domestic hot water package.  By utilizing the diverter valves in the shower system, we can get by in our luxury home with only two tankless water heaters.  In addition, the Plumbing Code now gives an alternate method for sizing tankless heaters.  It allows the designer to base the heater size on 65% of the peak fixture load.  Using this method, our typical home only requires one tankless heater.

One other method of reducing water heater tank volume is the use of an indirect water heater mated to a boiler system.  Typically, these systems have higher recovery rates (rates of heating and re-heating water), so many times a smaller hot water storage tank can be used than in direct heating.  For example, a standard 75 gallon gas water heater has a first hour delivery of 120 gallons per hour (GPH) compared to a 30 gallon indirect water heater that is rated at 183 GPH. In this comparison, there is an increased first hour delivery rate for indirect water heaters with a tank volume reduced by 45 gallons.

For water systems with private water sources, utilizing a constant pressure well pump will also decrease system volume.  A typical expansion tank for a standard well pump is 50 to 75 gallons.  However, that drops to 5 or 10 gallons on a constant pressure pump system.

We’ve been talking about decreasing system volume to reduce the risk biofilm growth, which is the primary goal of this article.  However, if it is determined that the system must have large hot water storage tanks, the design temperature of those tanks can be elevated to a much higher temperature (160 to 180 degrees F) to prevent biofilm growth.  This system must be fitted with an anti-scald valve to reduce the temperature to a safe level for the distribution to the house.  Indirect water heaters are a good choice for this type of system since they typically have a much lower energy loss as the water sits in the storage tank.

The Tub Dilemma

The required hot water tank volume also depends on the fill rate of bath tubs.  Large whirlpool tubs typically have tub fillers capable of 12 to15 gallons per minute (gpm).  Most designers would recommend an additional hot water storage tank at least as large as the tub volume, since no tank-type heater will keep up with 15 gpm fill rate.  Again, this requires large piping and major domestic hot water heating equipment that can lead to the growth of biofilms.

However, plumbing designers can educate homeowners about this dilemma.   If a homeowner can accept a slightly lower fill rate for the tub, one or two tankless water heaters can be used instead of a large tank-type heater with hot water storage.  In addition, the tankless heaters will maintain outlet temperature indefinitely so that there will be no drop in temperature as the tub slowly fills.  With a large tank-type water heater and additional large storage tank, a 75 gallon tub could potentially fill in 5 minutes.  With one tank-less water heater, the max fill time would be, at worst, 15 minutes.

There are a few issues that must be considered when applying a tank-less heater.  There is a phenomenon called a “Cold Water Sandwich.” That is, the first gallon or two of water is room temperature because it has been sitting in the room’s piping.  Then, the cold influent water comes in and has not had adequate time for heating, so there is about 3 to 5 seconds of cold water.  Then the properly heated water arrives.  A person can’t jump right into a shower or a bath tub and can’t turn the water on and off repeatedly.  But, a 2 to 5 gallon buffer tank can be used to solve the cold water sandwich problem.

Another issue is that there is higher pressure drop in tankless water heater units which must be considered in the plumbing design.

Water Treatment Equipment

The water softener and other water treatment equipment are also sites of large residence times.  As plumbing features of a luxury home are added, the peak flow rate increases.  This large flow rate alone given to a water treatment designer may result in very large water softening and treatment system.  However, the homeowner can describe the intent of how the luxury plumbing features will be used.  If the use of multiple luxury features is only going to occur for a short period, say 10 to 15 minutes every few weeks, consider installing a smaller softener and any other required water treatment equipment.  As long as the connections to the softener and other water treatment equipment are sized to handle that flow, the momentary surge will only result in partially softened/treated water going down stream for that short period.  Size the water treatment equipment for every day flow.

Hot Water Recirculation Lines

Hot water recirculation lines are needed in larger buildings so that hot water is immediately available throughout the building instead of having to travel from the hot water tank first.  However, hot water recirculation lines are notorious for biofilm growth because of added residence time of water and because the recirculation serves as a means to spread microbiological colonies to previously unaffected parts of the hot water system.

The “home run” plumbing system discussed in the section about “Fixture Units” can eliminate the need for a hot water recirculation line.

Summary

In summary, it is difficult to lower water residence time and water volumes in modern plumbing systems, but it can be done.

Using diverting valves, shower towers, or home run system design can decrease the number of fixture units in a plumbing design. This will result in smaller piping and decrease the size of heating and water treatment equipment.

Homeowners can be encouraged to choose tank-less water heaters and to accept lower tub fill rates to drastically reduce system volume.   Where tank-type water heaters are used, indirect heaters require less hot water storage than direct heaters.

Water softeners and other water treatment equipment can be sized for typical daily flow if peak flows are minimized by the homeowner.

Volume can be reduced further on systems with private water sources by using constant pressure well pumps.

We can’t expect plumbing designers and consumers to eliminate all the luxuries that we have grown accustom to.   But, as a plumbing community we need to be smart with our designs and educate our customers on the consequences of over-engineering.  With very small concessions, consumers can enjoy substantial energy savings as well as lower risks to health and to pipe integrity.