2013 March-April

by Jim Hinshaw   Just finished up a consulting project.  A client I have worked for in the past, just been a couple of years.  Just a quick Skype call, had whole company in the room. We discussed what the consumer was looking for today (hint, not the lowest price), what they are concerned about, what Read More

by Jim Hinshaw

 

Just finished up a consulting project.  A client I have worked for in the past, just been a couple of years.  Just a quick Skype call, had whole company in the room. We discussed what the consumer was looking for today (hint, not the lowest price), what they are concerned about, what they are buying.  Our answers to those three items: value, health/safety/economy, and peace of mind.  Just our little survey results.

We talked about how to find out what is important to the consumer, that would be asking questions.  Not just any questions (who did you vote for?), but questions that reveal concerns, views on where they think utility costs are headed, the sort of stuff we can affect in the home. When we got done, we asked if everyone had gotten something they could use today to improve sales and profits immediately.  Went around the room, most said that they had not considered asking multi-level questions, “why is that so important?” that sort of thing. In closing, one manager said that the material was not new; most of them had heard it in the past.  Sort of a long, awkward silence filled the room.  Then he followed up with: but we’re not doing it!

It is not enough to know what to do or say, you actually have to do and say it. Think football.  The Broncos are a re-energized team, we have a new quarterback!  And a mighty fine one he is.  Manning has probably thrown thousands of passes, yet he still suits up, hits the field with the team, throws pass after pass.  Same with the rest of the team, they practice/practice/practice.  Till it becomes muscle memory, where they don’t need to consider what to do, it is automatic.  Call it spring training, practice, drills, the true professionals run the games mentally as well as on the field many times before game day.

I travel the country, the better dealers, the ones improving sales and profits (in some cases by double digits) are the ones who are investing in training.  Just did a quick meeting in Vegas for an association.  30 minutes.  After lunch I told them I would hang around, do an informal Q & A, stay as long as they wanted.  7 contractors and 2 vendors stayed out of 46 attendees.

You can probably guess the demographics of the ones who stayed: one was in business for over 40 years, second generation taking over the helm, having the best year ever.  Another was a large dealer who had just launched a whole house performance division, where they were finding 1 out of 10 homes working well, almost none were performing as per the specs.  Another was the principle of a company who had purchased several other companies in the last 5 years, he could have given the talk, but he stayed to listen and participate.  Everyone who stayed was a successful company, just wanted to move the needle measuring profitability farther up.

Back in the day, I did work for Danny Ainge, coach of the Phoenix Suns.  I asked him what he looked for in terms of a prospect for the team. He said he wanted a guy who could make free throws, most games were lost by just a few points, and free throws could make the difference.  He also said he first day of practice he showed them how to tie their shoes, so they wouldn’t come undone in a game.  The basics.

So now is the time to make sure your team has the basics covered.  What to say, not to say to a homeowner.  What you do on each and every service call.  What a maintenance should be, what the expected results are.  How to answer the phone, what to say when someone asks what you charge, how to handle the difficult customer, everything.  Get them ready, the customers are waiting for you to amaze them.  Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.

 

 

by Rich Grimes Welcome back for another article! We will address some more FAQ’s regarding water heating and related systems. Some of the questions shed light on common installation and service issues. We welcome any questions you may have to offer for future articles – Please send them in! What is the proper mounting position Read More

by Rich Grimes

Welcome back for another article! We will address some more FAQ’s regarding water heating and related systems. Some of the questions shed light on common installation and service issues. We welcome any questions you may have to offer for future articles – Please send them in!

What is the proper mounting position of a 3-piece inline circulating pump?

A 3-piece inline pump has a motor with a shaft that is connected to the bearing assembly via a coupler. If the motor shaft is misaligned or applying pressure to the coupler and bearing assembly, the parts will wear out and fail prematurely.

The recommended mounting for a 3-Piece inline pump would be to always have the motor shaft in a horizontal position. Motors can rotated on the pump volute for a vertical or horizontal pump body, while maintaining the motor shaft in a horizontal position. Horizontal position is also necessary to oil the pump, with the oil fill cap pointing straight up.

What failures are associated with 3-Piece inline circulating pumps?

Most failures are related to mounting. The design of an inline pump is such that the flanges are designed to hold the weight of the pump. However, the piping must be secured properly for the flanges to hold up the pump. When motors are supported by strut or all-thread rod, the motor is being used to support the weight of the pump. This creates a misalignment and creates stress on seals, springs, couplers and shafts.

Another common installation issue is when an inline pump is mounted in a vertical position, with the back of the motor pointing straight up. This also puts many stresses on components. It takes a true Vertical Inline Pump which has a special motor, bearing and coupler, to install the motor in a vertical position.

What about Cartridge-type, Wet Rotor circulators and their mounting and maintenance?

Cartridge-type or Wet Rotor inline pumps use water to self-lubricate and use a “cartridge”. The cartridge contains a cavity to hold water with an impeller attached. There is no separate coupler or bearing assembly to fail, only a replaceable cartridge. These pumps do not require lubrication and have a long life. They are limited in horsepower but do cover a wide range of applications.

Most wet rotor circulators are capable of having the motor pointing up, in a vertical position, with at least 20 PSI working pressure. This is not the preferred method of the motor in the horizontal position but it has no effect on performance or longevity.

Why is it recommended to install a boiler drain valve when installing a pump?

The drain valve’s obvious use is for draining down water in the piping. If it is located between the service valves, it can provide drainage for pump maintenance. The best benefit of the drain valve is that it allows purging of air and drawing of hot water all the way to the pump.

Are Aquastats and Timers cost-effective for circulating pumps?

Yes and yes! The purpose of an Aquastat is to sense return water temperature on the hot water recirculating pipe. When the setpoint is reached, the Aquastat will power down the pump until it senses the temperature drop or “differential”.

A Timer can be effectively used to control periods of off and on operation. Most users have a pattern of when they use hot water. The timer can save energy when hot water is least likely to be used. Most timers have a by-pass switch to immediately energize and pump in the off mode.

How can the indoor air environment or quality affect a water heater or pump?

The quality of the indoor air is very important to all kinds of equipment. Water heaters and boilers will draw in contaminants with combustion air and it goes straight to the burner. Circulating pumps can accumulate contaminants on the motor brushes and shafts. Surface contamination will corrode parts and cause failure.

There is a wide range of contaminants such as lint, dust, oil, chemicals, paint, solvents, salt, dirt, particulates, etc. They deteriorate components at a rapid rate and can cause multiple operational malfunctions.

Thank you for your questions and we hope this information is helpful to you.

We’ll see you in a future article!

By now, contractor demand for lead free plumbing components in California and Vermont, the first two states to pass their own lead free plumbing laws, is an ongoing need with no turning back. Recently, Maryland passed legislation, and Louisiana has stepped onto the batter’s mound.  During the next 9 – 10 months, wholesalers and contractors Read More

By now, contractor demand for lead free plumbing components in California and Vermont, the first two states to pass their own lead free plumbing laws, is an ongoing need with no turning back. Recently, Maryland passed legislation, and Louisiana has stepped onto the batter’s mound.  During the next 9 – 10 months, wholesalers and contractors in all other states, including here in Florida and the Southeast will need to comply.  One wholesaler’s advice:  “Ease your way into it, but begin immediately if you haven’t already.  Sell or install all of the standard products now while you can and, as inventory is reduced, replenish supplies with the new lead free technology.”

Recently, Watts Water Technologies conducted a random survey of 16 wholesalers and contractors in Vermont and California.  They found that wholesalers were generally eager to talk about the impact of lead free technology, and that their contractor customers, as a whole, were receptive to the change. The key variable they found, however, was the way manufacturers responded to the need to re-tool their products and how effectively they introduced wholesalers to the new products.  Watts Water managers were delighted to learn from wholesalers and contractors that they (Watts Water) handled the transition well.

There are many facets, and some challenges, to the seismic shift to lead free plumbing components.  As a leading producer of lead free products and technology, the brands of Watts Water have also made a commitment to being an information leader as well.  Learn more at www.WeAreLeadFree.net.

Old man and the Hot Tub

“Converting from standard brass to lead free plumbing components is kind of like an old man who needs to ease into a hot tub,” said Darrell Read, operations manager at a branch for wholesaler F. W. Webb’s Williston, VT branch, New England’s largest plumbing & heating, cooling and industrial supplies distributor with more than 70 locations in New England and New York. “Here, in a state most immediately affected by the legislation, we recognize the need to make changes – and to provide the new lead free products – quickly, but we also recognized the need to be deliberate about it,” added Read.

In the opinion of contractors

Minnesota Master Plumber Eric Aune, president of Zimmerman, MN-based Aune Plumbing, says that he’s gradually making preparations for the switch to lead free plumbing components.  Even though he’s not in one of the “cutting edge” states where legislation was adopted quickly, Aune says “I’d like to be ahead of the curve; not behind it.”

“A key concern of mine is product availability,” added Aune.  “When lead free goes large scale, the last thing I’ll want to hear when I go to my supplier is that lead free products are unavailable.  Knowing that Watts made a proactive commitment to be ahead of the curve, and to have the broadest line of lead free products on the market, makes a very important statement to me.”   He’s also got a few opinions about the U.S. economy and our responsibility as buying/consuming Americans.  “We owe it to our own labor force and manufacturers to buy American,” he said.  “The lead free issue is one we’ll all have to deal with so we can at least help by installing products made here in the USA.

“My advice for making the transition to lead free components is to keep stock and inventory of lead free ball valves and fittings for all variety and type of heating and plumbing needs,” said one West Coast contractor.  “Knowing that we’d need to meet legislation, we chose to switch to lead free for everything from the start.”

“It’s really not possible to be too well prepared,” he added.  “Suppliers are limited in their ability to meet the demand for lead free products, and short supplies means that both installers and wholesalers will have issues.  When you can, stock up on important parts and components.”

It’s a done deal

In December, 2010, politicians and industry experts anticipated new legislation that would make the ‘Land of the Free’ also the ‘Land of the Lead free’ pending a single but very important signature. In January of 2011, President Obama signed the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act” (or Senate Bill S.3874) which set a new, federal standard for the level of permissible lead in plumbing fixtures that carry water for human consumption.  The Land of the Lead free now begins in just 12 months. By 2014, the allowable lead content in products providing water for human consumption will change from up to eight percent to not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent of wetted surfaces. The new bill will align allowable lead levels in all 50 states with the earlier adopted, permissible lead levels in California, Vermont and Maryland state legislation.

“In our opinion, the legislation appears simple and straight forward.  However, if you’re in the business of installing, specifying, distributing or manufacturing products to comply with the legislation, there is much more to it than meets the eye,” said Stephanie Ewing, director of strategic partnerships, Watts Water Technologies.

Western Wholesalers Tell it Like it Is

Ken Varnes, Bay Area outside sales manager for Elk Grove-based Slakey Brothers’ Salinas, CA branch, said that – early in the compliance period – manufacturers were slow to prepare.  “Over the past year, and into the home stretch, they certainly stepped-up the pace.” Varnes added that “Contractors haven’t been too concerned.  They rely on us to provide product to install.  In some cases, lead free products aren’t available from their manufacturer of choice, so they had to find alternate sources.”

He also revealed that, initially, some standard products were occasionally finding their way into installations. “But that’s definitely on the decline,” commented Varnes.  “Policing of the new policy is rigid, but we know there’ve been some infractions.  Local inspectors haven’t been asked, yet, to verify the use of lead free components.  Their focus, as expected, is safety and quality installation.”

Randall Densley is operations manager at Mission Valley Pipe based in San Diego, CA.  In the summer of ’09, he was appointed to serve as the wholesaler’s lead-free liaison between the company, their customers, and manufacturers. “We were quick to embrace the need for lead free compliance.  In fact, that fall, he and the company’s owners hosted a lead free symposium that drew 100+ attendees, there to learn about impact of the new legislation.

“In the market, it’s all about education,” said Varnes. “Our early efforts, already more than three years ago, set the proactive tone.  “We were quick to make changes and don’t regret it.”  Another wholesaler offered this advice:  “It’s helpful to have cross reference part numbers so when you do run out of the traditional product, you’ll know what to replace it with.”

Risks of Legal Liability

Many incorrectly believe that manufacturers or suppliers are the only ones at risk when making false claims of a product’s lead free compliance. This could not be further from the truth. As with laws from CA and VT, the National law states, “products introduced into commerce” must comply with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. Distributors and wholesalers selling products that falsely claim to be Lead Free could be just as liable as a manufacturer or supplier. The law goes on to state that legal action can be brought by any individual, corporation, company, association, municipality, state, or federal agency. Distributors and wholesalers found guilty could face significant monetary penalties.

Act, partner, protect

With mandatory, US-wide compliance set for January 2014, it’s now time to grapple with the implications.  Watts Water recommends:

 

  1. Distributors, contractors and engineers should be proactive.  Don’t wait too long to start the transition because delays may ultimately be costly.
  2. Team-up with quality manufacturers.  The new law will change both the material and manufacturing process for bronze and brass products used in potable water systems. The change is comprehensive, requiring of manufacturers ample R&D resources.
  3. Protect your business:  fines and lawsuits may be just around the corner for those who don’t abide the law.

 

“Lead free is a game changer,” adds Ewing.  “Our customers in California, Vermont and Maryland can attest to the impact to their business.  We do believe that proper planning and compliance will shape our success or failure for years to come.” After January 4, 2014, every potable plumbing product that does not meet the new federal standard will be illegal and cannot be sold or installed for use with potable water. Period. States will be required to implement the new lead free requirements through state or local plumbing codes, and some states may also enforce the requirements through consumer protection statutes or other laws.  Violators of the federal law may be subject to monetary penalties, government lawsuits, or civil lawsuits brought by concerned citizens.

Managing risk

Lead free changes the landscape for your business and introduces risks – from your competitors, from product quality issues, and possibly from legal and regulatory action.  Another facet of the lead free movement:  allowing your competitors to get ahead of you means running the risk of losing your customers and sales. Here’s good advice:  protect your business.  Work with reputable suppliers and manufacturers. This will ensure that the products you sell start from the highest quality materials and processes and are able to meet or exceed lead free requirements.

Failure to plan – not an option

Now, with less than 10 month remaining, if you haven’t already – you should start your transition.  A good first move is to contact each supplier to confirm that their products are already lead free compliant or if they have clear plans to transition to a lead free equivalent in time for your business to keep pace with the legislation.

In most cases, you’ll want to identify and sell off low-volume specialty or seasonal products first. Transitioning to high-volume lead free products will typically occur later in the transition plan.

Watts Water has taken the implications of the federal mandates seriously.  They’re focusing R&D resources on the lead free conversion.  They have also broken ground on a 30,000+ sq. foot expansion to their Franklin, NH, foundry.  The plant’s multi-million dollar expansion is expected to be complete in the spring of 2013 and will focus exclusively on producing lead free products.

Materials and manufacturing

Selecting lead free materials is not as simple a process as it would seem.  There are many options available to manufacturers, and each option has its own set of limitations. When complying with the lead free laws, there are many variables to address that cover multiple manufacturing processes, while being mindful of material suitability and product cost.

The primary options available for materials are lead free brass and bronze, stainless steels, and plastics.  Each lead free technology has costs beyond the basic raw material to consider.

“Manufacturers have a responsibility to deliver lead free compliant products that meet the customers’ expectations for performance and serviceability.  With the various material options that are available to meet the requirements of the lead free statutes, development of a material strategy is critical to maintain performance and deliver value to the end user,” said Jeff Scilingo, director of R&D engineering for Watts Water Technologies.

How to get started?

For those impacted by the new national lead free legislation, making the transition to lead free products can appear overwhelming at first. “Partnering with a manufacturer who understands the impact of the law and has experience with the challenges of a change of this size is important,” said Bill Tracey, western regional manager for Watts Water.

One of the best sources of information about current lead free needs here in the U.S. is the website developed by Watts Water Technologies:  www.WeAreLeadFree.net.  The website offers frequently-updated news about what is happening around the country with lead free legislation and requirements.

by Stanley K. Smith, Population Program Director Scott Cody, Research Demographer   The Bureau of Economic and Business (BEBR) at the University of Florida produces population estimates for Florida and its cities and counties using the housing unit method, in which changes in population are based on changes in occupied housing units (or households). This Read More

by

Stanley K. Smith, Population Program Director

Scott Cody, Research Demographer

 

The Bureau of Economic and Business (BEBR) at the University of Florida produces population estimates for Florida and its cities and counties using the housing unit method, in which changes in population are based on changes in occupied housing units (or households). This is the most commonly used method for making local population estimates in the United States because it can utilize a wide variety of data sources, can be applied at any level of geography, and can produce estimates that are at least as accurate as those produced by any other method.

The two primary components of the housing unit method are the number of households and average household size. In this report, we show our estimates of these two components for Florida and each of its counties on April 1, 2012. For purposes of comparison, we also show households and PPH for 2000 and 2010 as counted in the decennial census.

Households are defined as housing units occupied by permanent residents. They should not be confused with total housing units, which include vacant and seasonally occupied units as well as units occupied by permanent residents. Ac- cording to Census Bureau guidelines, a person’s permanent residence is the place the person live and sleeps most of the time. As a result, temporary residents such as tourists and snowbirds are not included in the estimates shown here.

Households

There were 7,537,442 households in Florida on April 1, 2012, an increase of 116,640 (1.6 percent) since April 1, 2010. Miami-Dade County had more households than any

other county in Florida, with 884,222. Other counties with large numbers of households were Broward (695,304), Palm Beach (553,517), Hillsborough (483,885), Orange (435,088), Pinellas (417,562), and Duval (344,668). At the other end of the spectrum, six counties had fewer than 5,000 households: Liberty (2,535), Lafayette (2,604), Union (4,057), Franklin (4,243), Glades (4,445), and Hamilton (4,680).

Miami-Dade County had the largest increase in house- holds between 2010 and 2012, growing by 16,870. Other large increases occurred in Orange (13,241), Lee (10,167), Hillsborough (9,855), Palm Beach (9,290), and Broward (9,257). In percentage terms, the largest increases occurred in Sumter (9.1 percent), Osceola (4.8 percent), Lee (3.9 percent), Okaloosa (3.6 percent), Walton (3.6 percent), and Gadsden (3.5). At the other end of the spectrum, eighteen counties had a net loss of households between 2010 and 2012.

Average household size

Florida’s average household size declined substantially between 1950 and 1990, falling from 3.22 to 2.46. It remained constant between 1990 and 2000 before rising slightly to 2.48 in 2010. At the state level, we estimate that average household size has not changed since 2010 (see Table A).

Average household size varies considerably among counties in Florida. In 2012, it was largest in Hardee (3.12), Hendry (3.09), Osceola (2.92), Miami-Dade (2.84), Baker (2.82), and Clay (2.76) and was smallest in Sumter (2.03), Sarasota (2.13), Charlotte (2.14), Pinellas (2.16), Monroe (2.18), and Citrus (2.19).

In general, average household size tends to be higher for black than white households, for Hispanic than non-Hispanic households, and for households headed by young or middle- aged persons than for households headed by older persons. Although there is not a perfect correlation, the counties in Florida with the largest average household sizes tend to have low proportions of older residents and high proportions of black or Hispanic residents, whereas counties with the small- est average household sizes tend to have high proportions of older residents and low proportions of black and Hispanic residents.

Methodology

Estimates of households are based on data from the 2010 census and are updated using information on building permits, active residential electric customers, and homestead exemp- tions. Estimates of average household size are based on data from the 2010 census and are updated using changes in household size since 2010 for the state as a whole (as measured by the Current Population Survey), previous trends in aver- age household size, and local changes in the mix of housing units by type (single family, multifamily, mobile home). For a more detailed description of the estimation methodology, please see Florida Estimates of Population: April 1, 2012, published by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research in January, 2013.

 

Table A. Average household size, Florida, 1950–2010

Year                   Size

1950                   3.22
1960                   3.11
1970                   2.90
1980                   2.55
1990                   2.46
2000                   2.46
2010                   2.48

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Acknowledgement

Funding for these estimates was provided by the Florida Legislature.

 

Article and information provided by:

University of Florida
Bureau of Economic and Business Research

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
221 Matherly Hall
Post Office Box 117145
Gainesville, Florida 32611-7145

For more information visit www.bebr.ufl.edu