Industry Blogs

Dain Hansen is vice president of Government Relations, The IAPMO Group. He lends his frequent perspective of Capitol Hill, and the plumbing industry.   Pricey Water Bills Fix Could Mimic Successful Energy Program. Subsidizing water bills for low-income families may be more difficult than a similar successful program for energy, but that’s the road map Read More

Dain Hansen is vice president of Government Relations, The IAPMO Group. He lends his frequent perspective of Capitol Hill, and the plumbing industry.

 

Pricey Water Bills Fix Could Mimic Successful Energy Program. Subsidizing water bills for low-income families may be more difficult than a similar successful program for energy, but that’s the road map a bipartisan group of lawmakers is exploring. The nature of the water industry—with tens of thousands of municipal-owned water suppliers that often serve 1,000 people or fewer—could make it far more difficult to implement than in the more consolidated power sector, the water industry cautions. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), one of the lawmakers working on the legislation, said many in Congress are hearing from their constituents that water and sewer bills are beginning to crowd out other items from their household budget. Cardin has said the issue really hit home for him when he was campaigning for a local candidate in Baltimore recently. “Every door I knocked on, they were asking me about their water bills—every door,” he said. “It’s obviously an essential utility and they just can’t afford it.”  The bill Cardin is crafting with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) is modeled on a program at the Department of Health and Human Services that subsidizes energy bills in low-income areas. It would establish a five-year pilot that would give grants to 32 water utilities across the country to establish low-income assistance programs there. Cardin and Wicker first introduced the bill in the Senate late last year. Cardin said his strategy for this year is to attach the measure to a larger piece of legislation, although it’s possible it could pass on its own, suggests Hansen.

US-China Trade Negotiations. US-Chinese negotiators met in Washington this week as part of an effort to find agreement on their trade disputes by March 1. Limited progress was expected in this week’s talks, and our judgment of the results are in line with those expectations despite the positive talk from the White House following the negotiations. There will be growing anticipation of a final deal later this month, particularly if a potential meeting between President Trump and Chinese Premier Xi takes place, as expected. If a deal is struck by March 1, it will not be a far-reaching agreement that will address the myriad issues that have divided the US and China, particularly structural issues embedded in China’s trading and economic policies. That type of deal will require more time to negotiate – beyond March 1 – and is still not certain even then. It is likely President Trump will seek a more comprehensive agreement – much more than an increase in Chinese purchases of US agriculture and other products. If such an agreement needs a deadline extension beyond March 1, the question is whether there will be increased US tariffs imposed then. This will depend on the pace of progress in the negotiations and the personal Trump-Xi dynamics from their likely meeting. Due to our belief that the Chinese will be slow to make commitments in areas of importance to the US, do not rule out increased tariffs after March 1. While many are confident these negotiations will eventually produce a final deal between the two countries later this year, our sense is that progress will occur slowly and only after more pain is afflicted, poses Hansen.

White House Looks To Move Pipelines Forward. The White House is considering new executive orders that would weaken states’ authority to block energy projects and would help speed the construction of pipelines, according to sources familiar with the matter. Possible actions include changing Obama-era draft guidance for complying with a section of the Clean Water Act as a way to hinder state governors who have used the law to oppose energy projects, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The potential executive orders wouldn’t address one of the the oil and gas industry’s main complaints: tariffs on imported steel that executives say hamper growth. Any new executive orders, which could be part of a broader, long-delayed infrastructure plan, would likely draw pushback from Democrats like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as Republican state leaders who are wary of ceding power to protect their rivers and streams to the federal government. Trump has pledged to drive “U.S. energy dominance” abroad, capitalizing on the decade-long surge in U.S. oil and gas production that has lifted output to record levels. The sector has remained a bright spot in an economy that experts say may be in danger of dipping into recession. U.S. companies have opened the spigots on oil shipments since the ban on exports was lifted in 2015, and the U.S. has become one of the leading global shippers, says Hansen. 

The 2019 AHR Show in Atlanta is in the rearview mirror. Before I get into the meat of the show, I wanted to touch upon some of the “infrastructure” surrounding the show. First, most of the activities surrounding the Georgia World Congress Center are fairly concentrated, and that causes traffic problems at peak traffic times Read More

The 2019 AHR Show in Atlanta is in the rearview mirror. Before I get into the meat of the show, I wanted to touch upon some of the “infrastructure” surrounding the show. First, most of the activities surrounding the Georgia World Congress Center are fairly concentrated, and that causes traffic problems at peak traffic times. But I can’t express enough how with a great offering such as Uber and Lyft are, they weren’t a very efficient means of getting around, at least in this city. Most of the GPS coordinates were off, causing long waits or canceled trips. And, to my surprise, many drivers weren’t even familiar with the downtown area, as they were not even from around the area. Not all, but enough for me notice.

I stayed in an AIrBnb for the first time, and although the accommodations were nice, I was told by a driver that I was on the edge of the bad part of town. Not really something you want to hear upon arriving. I really hope everyone’s experience of the city was a good one. Just think, Atlanta sets the stage for one of the biggest events I n the world in a couple of weeks — the Super Bowl!

The AHR Show

The Expo drew more than 65,000 attendees, with 1,809 exhibitors total, 496 international exhibitors from 35 countries and 107 first time exhibitors. I thought the show itself was very good. Well organized, fairly easy to get to and from the two exhibits halls via a connector, once you knew where it was located. It seemed that a lot of the booths had girth, size, and were well presented and represented.

Taco’s John White, Jr. (l) presents the Taco Comfort Solutions 2019 Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award to Dan Foley.

Eric Aune tests the VR experience in the REHAU booth at AHR.

The show opened up on Monday, and the Mechanical Hub crew was busy before the opening bell. Eric Aune and his wife Heather were getting the scoop, shooting video on Milwaukee Tool’s new M18 Threader. Look for more information and videos here and on our YouTube channels coming soon. Tim Ward was visiting with our friends at Uponor, learning more about its Copper Press Adapter. Finally, I was visiting with Taco, watching good friend Dan Foley receive the Taco Comfort Solutions 2019 Dan Holohan Lifetime Contribution to Comfort Award. Congrats, Dan!

John Mesenbrink checks out the VR experience in the Bosch Thermotechnology booth.

Some trends worth noticing was the ever-emphasis on energy efficiency, lowering GHG emissions, virtual reality, and interconnected devices, combining Alexa with thermostats, for example, piggybacking off of the CES Show earlier this year, and some products at last year’s Builder’s Show.

Lochinvar had a big announcement, telling the media it has partnered with Danish company, EC Power, to offer a cogeneration system, which pulls waste heat into water storage tank. Using an internal combustion natural gas engine, Micro CHP (< 50 kW/hr), is designed to be an efficient and easy-to-install system intended for light commercial use. Using natural gas as a fuel, a commercial facility with a cogeneration system like the XRGI25 can produce both energy-efficient heat for domestic hot water and electricity to reduce energy consumption from external power sources.

Some pre- and post-show events were held at the nearby aquarium. #breakfastwithbelugas

Xylem Bell & Gossett introduced its new line of double suction centrifugal pumps designed specifically for HVAC systems. The Series e-HSC features advanced hydraulics for powerful performance and best-in-class efficiency, along with a compact design for easier installation and maintenance.

In the end, some would say that the best part of the AHR Show—other than being the largest HVAC event of the year—is connecting with industry peers and catching up with good friends. There were plenty of pre-show/after-show parties, including Taco, Rheem, Bell & Gossett, Emerson, Burnham/U.S. Boilers, Mestek, Weil-McLain and Viega. Thanks to all for their hospitality.

In the end, it’s all about the relationships. Tim Ward winds down after the show with the crew from Bradford White.

 

 

 

 

 

In partnership with our friends at OLFA, the Japanese maker of high quality utility knives and rotary cutters, we invite you to take advantage of a limited time offer of a free model LA-X 18mm Snap Blade Utility Knife. All you have to do to get your knife is CLICK HERE to enter your shipping Read More

In partnership with our friends at OLFA, the Japanese maker of high quality utility knives and rotary cutters, we invite you to take advantage of a limited time offer of a free model LA-X 18mm Snap Blade Utility Knife.

All you have to do to get your knife is CLICK HERE to enter your shipping information and you’ll be all set to receive your free knife loaded with OLFA’s ultra-sharp black snap-off blade.

With more and more homeowners looking to smart technologies to automate their homes, people can now automate almost anything — lights, garage doors, windows, blinds, appliances, clocks, speakers, door bells, surveillance cameras, home security systems, climate control systems, cleaning systems, sprinkler systems, lawnmowers — even food preparation. So, what about their plumbing systems? If you Read More

With more and more homeowners looking to smart technologies to automate their homes, people can now automate almost anything — lights, garage doors, windows, blinds, appliances, clocks, speakers, door bells, surveillance cameras, home security systems, climate control systems, cleaning systems, sprinkler systems, lawnmowers — even food preparation.

Phyn Plus installed with Pro Squad installer

So, what about their plumbing systems? If you think about it, homeowners would love to be connected to their plumbing systems. What if a pipe bursts when they’re away? Or, there’s a tiny leak that’s been quietly wasting water (and money) for months (think: toilet flappers, dripping faucets or pinhole leaks in corroded metal plumbing systems). For those that only get their water bill on a quarterly basis, that little leak could add up to quite a big cost over time (not to mention a tragic waste of water, our precious natural resource).

And, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a leak. There are those forgetful homeowners (or their children) who leave a faucet running and leave the house with the water going continuously. I’ve even heard of pets (typically cats) that accidentally turn on faucets and leave them running for hours until the homeowner returns to find little Fluffy has just wasted hundreds of dollars down the drain. Certain smart water detection systems can even alert homeowners of abnormal water events such as these.

Water leaks and water misuse are real, and every homeowner has experienced a water incident at one time or another. If you’re still not convinced, here are some interesting stats that might make you think differently.

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage accounts for almost half of all property damage claims.
  • About one in 50 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year, and water damage ranks as the second most common home insurance claim.
  • Of homeowners who have experienced a water leak claim in the past two years, 57% spent more than $5,000 on clean-up costs, and 15% spent $20,000 or more.
  • 41% of homeowners say a device that alerts them to water leaks is highly

If you haven’t thought about it, now’s the time. Intelligent water is the next frontier in the connected home, and plumbers can benefit greatly from this new technology. Adding a smart water technology offering to your plumbing business is a great way to gain new business and offer a valuable new benefit to existing customers.

How do you get started? First, you need to do your research. Certain manufacturers now offer smart water systems that are designed specifically with the professional plumber in mind. The Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff, for example, is a connected plumbing device that is installed by a plumber in the Pro Squad nationwide network.

It’s helpful if you’re familiar with the internet and have some tech savvy in your background. But, for products that are installed through a professional, exclusive network, you can get the training you need right from the manufacturer. All that’s required from you is a willingness to learn.

Think about it. Homeowners are craving new ways to get connected to the things in their homes, and they are willing to pay for it. They will pay you for it! Plus, when there is a leak detected in their home, guess who they’ll call?

These smart water technology systems are a wonderful revenue generator for anyone in the plumbing industry — from the established contractor to someone just breaking into the industry. They can apply to any type of application from new construction to remodels to re-pipes. Essentially anywhere there’s residential plumbing, these systems will work.

And think about how great it would be to have your customers calling you straight from their connected device’s app whenever they need service due to a leak. It takes the guesswork out of the equation for homeowners regarding the best professional to call for the job, and it ensures a faithful client base for you. Win-win.

So, if you’re ready to up the ante in your business to offer a smart water leak detection system, think about all the positives it can offer and how easy it can be to get trained and up and running on a technology that is going to be in demand in the very near future.

You could be one of the first in your area to offer it, opening doors to customers you might never have the opportunity to encounter otherwise.

 

Kim Bliss is the content development manager at Uponor. She can be reached at kim.bliss@uponor.com.

Winter is Coming

As they say in one of the world’s most popular television shows: winter is coming. With winter comes the inevitable rise in the number of burst pipe calls all plumbers will be tasked with repairing. Pipes are generally more likely to burst when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suggested that those Read More

As they say in one of the world’s most popular television shows: winter is coming. With winter comes the inevitable rise in the number of burst pipe calls all plumbers will be tasked with repairing. Pipes are generally more likely to burst when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suggested that those living in cold-weather climates keep their homes heated to a minimum of 36 degrees if they are not going to be using their water for an extended period of time. However, no matter how present these warnings are, some winter pipe bursts are unavoidable.

Fortunately, John Guest has committed time and effort to developing the products necessary to tackle this problem. The John Guest Speedfit slip connectors provide plumbers with a quick, simple, and easy fix for burst pipes.

Their slip connectors come in two sizes and can be used to fix pipe bursts on PEX, CPVC, and copper pipes, providing an efficient solution to a litany of burst-pipe problems. John Guest slip connectors have push-fit connections, allowing for rapid installation that should at least temporarily solve one of the major issues with burst pipes: leakage. The push-fit fitting allows all of this to be accomplished without any additional pipe work.

Slip connectors are also built to work with both hot and cold pipes, again providing coverage across the entire spectrum of possible burst-pipe issues that one may encounter. John Guest slip connectors are made with lead-free, non-toxic, and non-flammable materials so you can feel secure in installing these connectors for any issue and leave them to run without constant monitoring. Like all John Guest products, the Speedfit slip connectors are made with an advanced polymer material, assuring our customers that they are receiving only the highest-quality performance.

For more visit John Guest Speedfit slip connectors.