hydronics

By Aaron Stotko When a century-old Dallas railroad company headquarters required major renovations to transform into a Homewood Suites by Hilton, initial cost estimates for the hydronic heating system came in too high. That’s when City Wide Mechanical of Dallas looked to alternative piping systems for a solution. They found PEX-a pipe with F1960 expansion Read more

By Aaron Stotko

When a century-old Dallas railroad company headquarters required major renovations to transform into a Homewood Suites by Hilton, initial cost estimates for the hydronic heating system came in too high.

That’s when City Wide Mechanical of Dallas looked to alternative piping systems for a solution. They found PEX-a pipe with F1960 expansion connections to be the ideal system, due to its durability and ease of installation in addition to the job-site productivity, safety and, best of all, profitability potential it provided.

PEX-a pipe, Uponor, Uponor PEX, Aaron Stotko, plumbing, piping, hydronics, pipe joining, PVF, HVAC

And City Wide Mechanical isn’t alone in their findings. Many mechanical contractors are discovering the benefits of PEX-a pipe and F1960 connections as the preferred alternative to copper, iron, and steel, which have dominated the mechanical piping industry for decades.

Benefits of PEX-a

PEX is an acronym for crosslinked polyethylene. It has been used in North America since the mid-1980s, starting with radiant floor heating systems, then moving into plumbing and, eventually, to hydronic hot-water heating and chilled-water applications.

PEX can be manufactured via three different processes, which create products with varying crosslinking percentages that allow for different characteristics. PEX-a is the most durable, flexible, and resilient with crosslinking around 85%. PEX-b is a stiffer piping product with crosslinking around 65% to 70%, and PEX-c features crosslinking around 70% to 75%.

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ASHRAE Headquarters Grand Opening Fall 2021, photos by Devin Abellon

One major benefit of the higher crosslinking in PEX-a is its extreme flexibility along with its thermal and shape memory. The flexibility of PEX-a eliminates most connections in smaller-diameter piping, saving time and money with up to half the connections required in rigid metal piping systems. To make a change in direction, the installer simply bends the pipe instead of having to stop and make a fitting. There are also bend supports available that help hold a bend securely in place.

The thermal memory of PEX-a provides kink repairability with a simple shot of heat from a heat gun. This eliminates the need to add in a coupling if a kink ever occurs in the pipe. (It is important to note that kink repairability is not possible with PEX-b or PEX-c pipe.)

The shape memory of PEX-a allows the pipe to expand and contract back down to its original shape. This makes it extremely resilient in freezing conditions and also provides for the fastest, easiest, most reliable PEX-a fitting system — F1960 expansions.

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Expansion fittings require one simple tool to expand the pipe and an expansion ring before inserting a fitting. As the pipe and expansion ring naturally shrink back to their original shape, it creates a strong, durable connection that holds tight and can never be dry-fit. (Note: It is not recommended to expand PEX-b or PEX-c pipe due to microcracking that can occur.)

The innovative expansion fitting method eliminates torches, glues, and solder from a job site for greater worker safety. Plus, the system is extremely easy for installers to learn, helping get new crews up to speed quickly.

Speaking of job-site safety, PEX is also much lighter in weight compared with metal systems. For example, a 300-foot coil of 1/2-inch PEX weighs about 18 pounds, whereas the same amount of copper pipe weighs around 85 pounds. The lighter weight of PEX makes it safer and easier for installers to move around a job site and also eliminates the need for heavy-lifting equipment.

PEX-a also has a long-term advantage over copper when it comes to performance longevity. It is a static system, meaning its internal surfaces — which are three times smoother than copper — will not pit, scale, or corrode. That means its performance will remain the same from day one through decades of use.

Finally, because it is not a traded commodity, PEX-a holds a relatively stable material cost. This makes bidding a project much more consistent and reliable.

Application Details and Installation Tips

PEX-a is regulated by the ASTM F876 standard, which denotes temperature and pressure ratings of 200°F at 80 psi (pounds per square inch), 180°F at 100 psi, and 73.4°F at 160 psi. These values are well within the range of operation for most hydronic systems, including chilled beams, fan coil units, baseboards, radiators, hydronic VAV (variable-air volume) reheat coils, and radiant manifolds.

Because PEX is oxygen-permeable, it is important to use a pipe with an oxygen barrier that limits oxygen diffusion to levels below DIN 4726. This will protect the metallic components in the mechanical piping system, such as valves, strainers, and pump volutes, from corrosion.

The pipe is manufactured in sizes from 5/16 inch up to 4 inches and features a copper tube size (CTS) outside diameter. This means all the off-the-shelf components used in a copper hydronic piping system — hangers, supports, and insulation — can be the same.

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For horizontal piping, the industry offers PEX-a Pipe Support — a galvanized-steel channel that is 9 feet in length and available in PEX pipe sizes from ½ inch to 3½ inches. This solution enables hanger spacing similar to copper pipe and helps control the natural expansion and contraction of the pipe as it heats and cools.

Because PEX-a expands at 1.1 inches per 100 feet per 10°F Delta T (which is 10 times that of copper), installing anchors every 65 feet and using PEX-a Pipe Supports allows PEX-a to function much like a copper system. In fact, different installation methods have a different effect on the overall net expansion rate.

With a strut-and-clamp system, using PEX-a Pipe Supports and anchoring with fixed points reduces the expansion rate of PEX-a to 0.08 inches per 100 feet per 10°F Delta T (a rate less than copper). And a loop-and-clevis system can reduce the rate to 0.12 inches per 100 feet per 10°F Delta T.

If you’d like to learn more about PEX-a piping systems, visit the Plastics Pipe Institute at plasticpipe.org or the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association at ppfahome.org.

PEX-a pipe, Uponor, Uponor PEX, Aaron Stotko, plumbing, piping, hydronics, pipe joining, PVF, HVACAaron Stotko is the director of Segment Marketing at Uponor. He can be reached at aaron.stotko@uponor.com.

 

 

Expansion tanks are a vital safety component in plumbing and hydronic systems. In the next edition of Coffee with Caleffi™, legend Bob “Hot Rod” Rohr joins Cody Mack to expand your knowledge of these versatile tanks. They will discuss function, sizing and how to avoid common failures. Attendees will also learn about proper placement, multiple-tank Read more

Expansion tanks are a vital safety component in plumbing and hydronic systems. In the next edition of Coffee with Caleffi™, legend Bob “Hot Rod” Rohr joins Cody Mack to expand your knowledge of these versatile tanks. They will discuss function, sizing and how to avoid common failures. Attendees will also learn about proper placement, multiple-tank applications, vessel linings and other best practices. This edition of Coffee with Caleffi will be on Thursday, Aug. 18 from 12 noon – 1:00 p.m. CDT.

Rohr is a 2020-2022 Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence honoree, he travels from sea to shining sea for Caleffi North America, sharing his 40+ years’ of experience as a plumbing, radiant heat and renewable energy contractor. He is a regular contributor to industry magazines where Hot Rod brings his rubber-to-the-road experiences to life.

Mack has nearly 20 years’ experience as installation contractor, service technician, application engineer, training manager and now product manager for Caleffi. Our audience will appreciate his thoughtful yet humorous content delivery combined with his practical, common sense product approach.

The monthly educational webinars are free and are intended for engineers, contractors, designers and wholesalers. A Certificate of Attendance is emailed to attendees following the event for continuing education audits.

Please visit our website at www.caleffi.us for schedule details and registration.

Taco Comfort Solutions donated $25,000 to Tunnel to Towers Foundation during an event held on June 15 at Wales Darby’s Islandia, N.Y. facility. Taco teamed up with their New York manufacturer’s rep, Wales Darby, to run a contractor promotion in the Long Island area supporting Tunnel to Towers. Taco donated proceeds from Taco heating circulators Read more

Taco Comfort Solutions donated $25,000 to Tunnel to Towers Foundation during an event held on June 15 at Wales Darby’s Islandia, N.Y. facility.

Taco, Taco Comfort Solutions, Wales Darby, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, charity, giving back, plumbing, Hydronics, pumps

From left to right, Tunnel to Towers Foundation representative Andrew McClure receives a check for $25,000 from Taco Comfort Solutions’ Benjamin White, Manager, Supply Chain, and John White, III, Sr. Vice President, OEM Sales.

Taco teamed up with their New York manufacturer’s rep, Wales Darby, to run a contractor promotion in the Long Island area supporting Tunnel to Towers. Taco donated proceeds from Taco heating circulators sold during a four-month period to Tunnel to Towers.

Tunnel to Towers Foundation supports families of fallen and severely injured military and first responders by providing mortgage-free homes.

Optimal plumbing system design combines best practices on both sides of the flange. Designing, installing and maintaining perfect loops ensures that we deliver superior comfort, energy efficiency and reliability to our customers. Cody Mack and Max Rohr welcome Grundfos industry expert Becky Henderson from The Perfect Loop training series to discuss domestic hot water recirculation systems during this extended edition of Coffee with Caleffi™. The Read more

Optimal plumbing system design combines best practices on both sides of the flange. Designing, installing and maintaining perfect loops ensures that we deliver superior comfort, energy efficiency and reliability to our customers. Cody Mack and Max Rohr welcome Grundfos industry expert Becky Henderson from The Perfect Loop training series to discuss domestic hot water recirculation systems during this extended edition of Coffee with Caleffi™.

The Perfect Loop is a hands-on and complimentary contractor training series that combines both companies’ expertise in sustainable plumbing and hydronic technologies.  In this special edition of Coffee with Caleffi, we are proud to offer the series in a convenient, virtual fashion.

You’ll learn:
→ Sizing basics: GPM, pipe sizing, friction loss
→ Balancing basics: Valve choices and commissioning
→ Mixing basics: Valve choices and piping
→ Preventing recirculation creep
→ Cross connections
→ Maintenance: Tips and Tricks

Becky is Grundfos lead key account manager and is responsible for seven rep agencies covering 13 states. She enjoys running, motorcycle riding and spending time with her daughter in her free time. Becky has the innate ability to make learning fun and engaging.

Cody has nearly 20 years’ experience as installation contractor, service technician, application engineer, training manager and now product manager for Caleffi. Our audience will appreciate his thoughtful yet humorous content delivery combined with his practical, common sense product approach.

Max is Caleffi education and industry engagement manager leading interactions with trade associations, committees, industry initiatives and collaborative manufacturer partners.  Max – a self-described “energy nerd” – has 20+ years of work experience in installation, distribution, manufacturers’ representative and manufacturing roles. Max is a self-described “energy nerd.”

Coffee with Caleffi technical training webinars are free and intended forcontractors, engineers, designers and wholesalers. By submitting your webinar registration, you are consenting to email communications to keep you up-to-date on industry news.

It’s easy to join us!  Simply register today.

A Certificate of Attendance is emailed to attendees following the webinar equivalent to 1.5 PDH for continuing education.   Please verify with your state/province for fulfillment compliance.

Xylem Bell & Gossett recently reopened the Little Red Schoolhouse, the company’s suburban Chicago training center for professionals dedicated to the plumbing and hydronic HVAC industries. Xylem Bell & Gossett’s Little Red Schoolhouse in Morton Grove, Illinois, has been an industry icon in education for over 60 years, having trained more than 62,000 engineers, contractors Read more

Xylem Bell & Gossett recently reopened the Little Red Schoolhouse, the company’s suburban Chicago training center for professionals dedicated to the plumbing and hydronic HVAC industries.

Xylem Bell & Gossett’s Little Red Schoolhouse in Morton Grove, Illinois, has been an industry icon in education for over 60 years, having trained more than 62,000 engineers, contractors and other hydronic HVAC and plumbing professionals have been educated in the proper design, installation and maintenance of hydronic and steam systems.

The Little Red Schoolhouse offers training covering a wide range of seminars tailored to different occupations within the industry, and is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

“Industry professionals recognize the value of in-person training, and we are happy to welcome them back to the Little Red Schoolhouse,” said Mike Licastro, director of training. “Whether it’s manufacturers’ representatives, engineers or contractors, our goal is for training to provide a knowledge base that makes them better equipped to perform their daily job duties related to hydronic and steam product application and system design.”

Instruction at the facility is well known for taking a systems-based approach that teaches students not only about individual components, but also how those components work together once installed in a complete plumbing and HVAC system.

Xylem Bell & Gossett, through the Little Red Schoolhouse, has a long history of providing industry professionals with the in-depth hydronic system design knowledge they need to confidently and expertly help their customers. The learning center was updated in 2019 to ensure Bell & Gossett’s mission of education continues to add value to and advance the industry.

Along with cutting-edge technology, Bell & Gossett has reinforced its emphasis on hands-on training with dedicated space for three new demonstration areas that feature functional displays of equipment for a variety of commercial and industrial applications, including variable speed controller technology, plumbing products and service and maintenance.

Little Red Schoolhouse second quarter schedule

  • Design and Application* (April 26-29)
  • Modern Hydronic Heating Systems – Basic Seminar* (May 10-12)
  • Large Chilled Water System Design* (May 24-26)
  • Plumbing System Design (June 7-9)

* Seminar approved by GBCI to provide credit toward the credential maintenance requirements of the LEED Associate and LEED AP certifications

To learn more about the Little Red Schoolhouse, enrollment, course descriptions and online courses, please visit www.bellgossett.com.