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  • Wednesday, September 27, 2023 2:37 PM | Anonymous

    If you are a plumber or a trade professional who actively promotes the use of high-efficiency, condensing water heaters, boilers or furnaces, you should be equally energetic in treating discharge coming from this equipment with some sort of neutralization. That’s the only way to protect your customers’ plumbing from the potentially harmful side effects of the condensation process. As the popularity of high-efficiency condensing products grows, so too will the problem of acidic condensate.

    As a matter of fact, International Plumbing Codes and National Standard Plumbing Codes  require neutralization for corrosive waste. To elaborate: IPC and NSPC state that corrosive liquids, spent acids or other harmful chemicals that destroy or injure drain, sewer, soil or waste pipe, or create noxious or toxic fumes, or interfere with sewage-treatment processes shall not be discharged into the plumbing system without being thoroughly diluted, neutralized or treated by passing through an approved dilution or neutralizing device.

    Which states use IPC and NSPC codes?

    The NSPC is designed to ensure the proper installation of plumbing systems, providing local and state governments, code administration bodies, and the industry with a modern code to protect health and promote safety. New Jersey uses the National Standard Plumbing Code.

    The International Plumbing Code is a proven, comprehensive model plumbing code that works seamlessly with ICC's family of building codes. It sets minimum regulations for plumbing systems and components to protect life, health and safety of building occupants and the public. The IPC is available for adoption by jurisdictions ranging from states to towns, and is currently adopted on the state or local level in 35 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

    What is the best way to neutralize? Why is it important?

    Condensing technology saves energy by maximizing the amount of heat energy transferred to the water during the combustion process. A byproduct of this process is water, or condensate, that tends to be acidic because of the chemical reaction caused by the heat of the gas burner. Indeed, the higher the efficiency rating, the higher the acid level in the water runoff.

    If this runoff is disposed of through a home’s or a building’s plumbing system, the piping could corrode, rust over time, and cause serious damage to local sewers and water treatment facilities. Pumping the waste outdoors or into sanitary sewers could contaminate the groundwater or degrade the local water infrastructure. For homes with septic tanks, condensate waste might also destroy the good bacteria that is essential to keeping the system operating properly.

    The higher, front-end costs of high-efficiency equipment are typically justified by lower energy consumption and the resulting lower monthly fuel bills. But those savings could be wiped out and then some if the plumber must return in just a few years to tear out and redo all the plumbing.

    The smart, long-term solution is to neutralize the acidic content in the condensate waste before it ever enters any piping.

    Although International Plumbing Codes require condensate waste-neutralization, enforcement is spotty. Some sections of the country, such as New England, strictly enforce the code requirements; others — including the Far West — tend to be lax.

    Even so, the trades must become more aware of this problem because the acid in the condensate will just eat away the piping.

    Neutralization can be accomplished in several ways:

    1. Manually, by cutting a bed of limestone into the floor where the condensing water heater, boiler, etc., is located, and letting the condensate drip into it.
    2. Positioning a limestone-filled cartridge inside of the condensing unit to neutralize the water internally.
    3. Hooking a neutralization kit — essentially, a piece of pipe filled with limestone — to the exterior of the condensing equipment and letting the condensate flow through it.

    Saniflo manufactures a neutralizing component that falls into the third category, but with a more sophisticated approach. The Sanicondens Best Flat couples a pump with a neutralizer to move condensate from the water heater or boiler through limestone granules in a tray before pumping the water into the sewer or septic system.

    The pump ensures condensate waste does not linger inside or around the water heater or boiler, while the neutralizer removes the acidity that would damage water and sewer pipes.

    How does Saniflo’s condensate pump work?

    The Sanicondens Best Flat is capable of serving multiple mechanical systems — up to a combined total of 500,000 Btu per hour.

    The pump has an easy to refill pH-neutralizing pellet tray. Making it the ideal single, space-saving, environmentally friendly solution for today’s ultra-high-efficiency condensing equipment, both residential and commercial: boilers, water heaters, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, and other appliances.

    Often, condensate cannot drain adequately via gravity, usually because the application lacks conventional, below-floor drainage. This problem can cause property damage or even create health hazards by adversely affecting indoor air quality.

    But the Sanicondens Best Flat is a sleek, lower-profile condensate pump using a built-in neutralizer to boost the pH of the acidic condensate before it can be discharged into a drainline — thus preventing corrosion.

    Its streamlined design handles up to a combined total of 500,000 Btu per hour and incorporates two 1-inch inlets: one on the side and the other on the top near the neutralizer tray.

    Condensate entering the system automatically activates a float mechanism that, in turn, starts the motor whose spindle/shaft drives the impeller. The condensate is neutralized as it comes into contact with the neutralizer pellets in the tray before being pumped safely away through a 3/8-inch discharge line into the sanitary sewer or a septic tank.

    Enforcement of the condensate-neutralization codes will likely increase as the problem — and its potential toll on plumbing systems — become more widely recognized. But if you are a plumber who installs condensing equipment, you should not wait, if only for the sake of your customers. According to, high-efficiency condensing boilers, HVAC systems and water heaters will cut homeowner fuel costs dramatically. But to achieve maximum value — and to ensure the customer’s money-saving investment doesn’t cause problems that cost thousands of dollars more down the road — it is vitally important to neutralize the condensate waste such units emit.

    If you have any questions or concerns, you can always call the Saniflo technical hotline at 800-571-8191 to find out which products would work best. Or you can send an email to with details on your installation.

  • Monday, September 11, 2023 2:46 PM | Anonymous

    HVACR Training Track



    hvacr training track

    The PHCC Educational Foundation is rolling out two new courses this fall – Pre-Apprentice HVACR and Fast Track to Service & Repair HVACR – to complete its training track for prospective HVACR professionals and to give the contractors that employ them effective and efficient training at a reasonable price.

    This development comes after more than two years of planning and a $500,000 allotment of funds by the Foundation to develop online HVACR training that would equal the quality and selection of the Foundation’s existing plumbing offerings.

    "Individual contractors and even most PHCC chapters don’t have the resources available to create programs like these. That’s why it’s so important to have contractor support for the Foundation," says Foundation Chairman Kevin Tindall. "When we can focus the contributions from our supporters across the country together, we can build some incredible programs. That’s why the Foundation exists – to do what we can’t do on our own."

    And what the Foundation has done is build two courses that will help the HVACR industry fill the crucial workforce shortage. "Our purpose is to get qualified candidates and employees standardized training so that they are producing members of the team and truck-ready," says PHCC Educational Foundation Chief Learning Officer Angela Collins. And, with the new Pre-Apprentice HVACR Course, "you can also vet those same people to see if they are an employment fit before enrolling them in the longer, more comprehensive trainings."

    "Our offerings are geared for the contractor and helping them fulfill their workforce education needs," adds Collins. "Our product line is unique in that way … it’s from a contractor standpoint," she adds, explaining that a contractor "can partner with the PHCC Educational Foundation and know that there are people on staff developing content to ensure return on investment with minimal work production disruption. We recognize pulling revenue-producing members of the team out of their trucks is not ideal."

    Pre-Apprentice HVACR Course: A Small Investment for Peace of Mind

    When an individual is interested in continuing on the HVACR career path, the Foundation’s new Pre-Apprentice HVACR Course trains new hires or entry-level techs to diversify their skillset as helpers and prepare them for the next suitable training program: either Fast Track to Service & Repair HVACR or a traditional HVACR Apprenticeship program if required by their state.

    The seven-module course – estimated to be completed within four months – is an in-depth introduction into HVACR principles and systems, soft skills, safety, science, and math.

    "Our purpose is to get qualified candidates and employees standardized training so that they are producing members of the team and truck-ready."

    ∼ Angela Collins, PHCC Educational Foundation

    "We call this course an ‘employment fit,’" says Collins. "It gives the contactor a runway to get someone through, to evaluate numerous items: Can they be successful at distance learning? Are they committed to staying in the industry? Are they a good candidate for our business?"

    And for only $29 for PHCC members and non-members, it’s a small investment. By the time the candidate has – hopefully – completed the Foundation’s free Workforce Readiness Course (basically to determine if they’d prefer plumbing or HVACR) and the very affordable Pre-Apprentice Course, the contractor has had a low-cost trial run before investing in longer and more costly training courses. "We want to make sure that the student is successful, because – when they are – so is the contractor and, ultimately, the industry workforce."

    Fast Track to Service & Repair HVACR: Accelerated Training to Get Techs Up-and-Running

    Designed by contractors for contractors who perform residential or commercial service and repair work, Fast Track to Service & Repair HVACR is intended to train technicians to be job- and truck-ready with a well-rounded understanding of HVACR systems.

    The course’s 34 online modules cover professionalism in the workplace, safety and first aid, mathematic and scientific principles related to HVACR, electric and motor fundamentals for HVACR, tools, control systems, troubleshooting, and so much more.

    The course also may be used as an opportunity to upskill technicians or assist those in switching careers between plumbing and HVACR, especially useful to contractors who offer services in both areas.

    The Fast Track program may sound familiar to PHCC member contractors, as it was originated years ago by Quality Service Contractors (QSC), a PHCC Enhanced Service Group. A team of PHCC contractors has now updated, condensed, and re-ordered the original modules, paired it with the #1 best-selling textbook in the HVACR market, and is set to relaunch it this fall.

    While students work on the online course at their own pace, the program is expected to be completed in 12 to 18 months. Of course, it is designed to be most successful with the supervisor’s involvement in providing the student with hands-on practical skills and training activities that align with the modules. "Each company has its own – what we call – ‘magic,’" says Collins. "It is the proprietary processes and practices that you use, and we can’t teach that, so we encourage students to discuss the work tasks with their supervisors to best align with the business’s processes and procedures."

    Just like the Foundation’s Plumbing and HVACR Apprenticeship courses, the Fast Track to Service & Repair HVACR course is offered through PHCC chapter eLearning partners, with the cost of the Fast Track course at $2,899 for PHCC members (and $3,299 for non-members). To encourage collaborative group learning, the Foundation offers a "Buy One, Get One Free" incentive that allows two students and one supervisor to move through the program together to make it less overwhelming for both parties.

    If contractors are in a state without a chapter partner, they can email And – like with its Plumbing counterpart – the Foundation is directing $50 from each sale of the Fast Track to Service & Repair HVACR course into its Scholarship Fund, helping to ensure funding for the workforce cycle for years to come.

    what is the right fit for my employees
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    phcc logo
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    © 2021 - 2023 PHCC Educational Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

    A Bird’s Eye View of the Track

    The Foundation has methodically aligned its online PHCC Academy® course offerings – now for both plumbing and HVACR – to move students through at the correct level in their careers to get them to be trained or licensed professionals … and to give the contractors who employ them effective and efficient training at a reasonable price.

    Use the chart on page 22 to see where these two new courses fit in … and to help you find the right fit for your employees or potential employees.

    hvacr training track
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    Designed By Contractors, For Contractors

    After six years of offering similar plumbing courses through its Learning Management System – PHCC Academy® – the Foundation is confident in the user experience. "We’ve had more than 6,500 students come through, and I would say that 95% of our questions or student issues are that people forget their password," says Collins. "If you can order on Amazon, you can use the system."

    To provide a higher level of learning and instruction, the Foundation has incorporated multimedia learning aspects into these online offerings. Combined with the irreplaceable value of work-based learning, students are well-prepared to start their careers in field work.

    Most importantly, these courses were designed by contractors, for contractors. The Foundation assembled a team of PHCC contractors as subject matter experts – as well as adult education specialists and instructional designers – to create structure and content for these new HVACR offerings.

    The Next Lap

    Both the Foundation and PHCC have joined forces and created a team to ensure comprehensive content is developed to meet the needs of HVACR contractors throughout their entire career timeline – not only new entrants and those transitioning into the industry, but those in mid-career and late-career and those getting ready to retire and hand off their business to the next generation.

    "As we stand up the HVACR products and services, we are exploring strategic partnerships with new and existing HVACR manufacturers and service providers to tap into their subject expertise and broaden our HVACR offerings as professionals move through their careers," says Elicia Magruder, PHCC’s vice president of business development.

    Solutions Magazine (HCCQ) - Summer 2023 - HVACR Training Track (

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2023 1:15 PM | Anonymous

    Every employer in the country has a hard time finding and keeping employees.

    The post-pandemic workforce is sluggishly crawling back to conventional employment. This rut has caused businesses to ramp up pay and incentive offerings to try and onboard as many employees as possible. You've seen the craze of “work today get paid tomorrow,” $2,000 signing bonuses to work at a fast-food restaurant, three-day work weeks with full medical benefits and 401K, and all sorts of other bait thrown to the public.

    Most plumbing and drain cleaning business operators either look at that and laugh or try to adapt and compete with them. I would argue that both are wrong. Do you think heavy benefit frontloading, high signing bonuses for minimum wage jobs, and continually overpaying wages above fair market values are sustainable?

    It's not sustainable, and it's not designed to be a permanent fixture.

    What's happening now

    Depending on what industry you're talking about, most businesses with a historically high employee turnover, also known as seasonal employment, are the ones that are offering crazy things to try and attract employees. It works for them because they always operate on short-term employment strategies. They are grabbing their share of part-time employees as quickly as possible because there aren't that many people available in the workforce looking for that type of employment. It's why your local diner has a better track record of keeping employees than your large fast-food chain next door. Your locally owned restaurant understands that they need to retain employees to compete and be profitable. They don't have a couple of million dollars per month to throw at billboards, job postings, TV commercials, radio ads, YouTube SEO, clickbait trailers, headhunters and bait gimmicks like big fast-food chains do. They are just two separate companies with two different competing strategies that both work. That's what's happening.

    On a macro level, you could argue that we as a trade are competing with these companies for entry-level workers, but I don't see it this way. The pandemic was a rude awakening to the workforce because it showed the vulnerable state of workers in unskilled positions and their income without government assistance. There are more people here in our trade schools now than there were before the pandemic, regardless of age.

    Even graduating high schoolers are going toward skilled work without college because they saw how scary it could be to be on fixed government income and have earth-shattering college debt payments. Most people understand that if the government didn't step up and pay people money, bad things would happen. And worse yet, they are smart enough to understand the long-term consequences because the government followed through and delivered the payloads to the masses.

    Focus on quality and slot filling

    The strategy as we advance should be hiring the person primarily for the quality of person they are instead of just their ability as a plumber or drain tech. Years ago, if you were a great person with no experience, you would get passed up by most employers, and understandably so. The risk-adjusted return for an owner or owner/operator was too low. You've heard the quote that goes something like, "I can't afford to train my workers because they'll just leave," the response being, "What happens if you don't train them, and they stay?"

    This counter oversimplifies a complex issue and ventures into circular logic by assuming the first person provided no training whatsoever for trainees who will never leave. Not everyone is going to be an ace plumber. The average company often requires a variety of expertise. People who specialize in excavation/heavy equipment operations, lining/bursting machines, service technicians, new construction plumbers, workers who excel at dropping off/picking up heavy equipment from job sites, job site foremen, sales people, coordinators, jetter/drain cleaning specialists, people who excel at troubleshooting, and the most productive of all — laborers.

    Instead of looking at your employment screening process through the lens of who has plumbing and drain cleaning experience and who doesn't, look at it like filling positions on a football team. You don't need or want a lightning-fast 135-pound wideout to play nose tackle on Sunday. You are looking for someone who already knows how to pull permits, make site drawings and install a four-story venting system when you might only need to fill the slot of the worker who has truck driving and laborer experience. Someone who shows up every day willing to learn and work. Someone who can get heavy equipment delivered to the job, take care of the equipment and help the on-site master plumber by doing cleanup, cutting and pipe preparation.

    Reliability counts now more than ever. Hiring high-quality people in general first, and secondly who have qualifications specifically for the slot you're trying to fill is a solid employment strategy. When you give in and let people do what they are good at and allow them to be around plumbing/drain cleaning, they will slowly become more interested and more valuable and see the career path in the trade develop in front of them.

    High-quality, reliable people want to be around other high-quality people. High-quality people will run from an organization that has low-quality, unreliable people. Low-quality people always want to be around other low-quality people. It's that simple.

    - Aug 16, 2023, Anthony Pacilla
    A Modern Employment Strategy That Works | Plumber Magazine

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2023 11:59 AM | Anonymous

    3 Fleet Tracking Solutions to Make Your Business Run Smoother

    Today's technology has made it easier than ever to manage your fleet and your technicians while they're out on the road. Below we get into the details on three different available options.

    DPL Telematics AssetCommand Base

    AssetCommand Base from DPL Telematics is designed to increase driver safety and productivity while decreasing the costs and risk of vehicle accidents and theft. Managers can remotely shut down their machines, wirelessly locate them anytime via GPS, collect odometer/run-time readings, track service intervals and receive real-time alerts for speeding or potentially dangerous driving. Driver ID options include iButton or RFID badges to restrict access to authorized drivers and correctly log each driver’s activity. Users can also receive alerts for loss of power and boundary or curfew violations to curb unauthorized use. It is palm-sized, has no external antenna and contains an internal backup battery to continue operating the unit if disconnected. Customers are allowed to deactivate and reactivate anytime without penalty. 800-897-8093;


    Fleetio’s suite of cloud- and mobile-based fleet management solutions enables fleets of all sizes to automate fleet operations and manage asset life cycles. Users can instantly access and update data regarding inspections, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, parts, fuel and drivers. It improves communication and streamlines issue resolution with its mobile app, email notifications and reminders. It also integrates with telematics solutions for automated odometer updates, DTC handling and fuel location reporting that pairs with fuel cards to automatically log transaction data at fuel up. Fleet managers, drivers, technicians, parts managers and other personnel have access to the tools and information they need anytime, anywhere. 800-975-5304;

    GPS Fleet Consulting Full Spectrum Tracking

    Full Spectrum Tracking from GPS Fleet Consulting includes GPS-based tracking products for vehicles, equipment and trailers including fleet maintenance; field management software for scheduling, dispatching, estimates and invoicing; route optimization computing for improved efficiencies and response times; and AI-based on-board cameras providing live streaming video and optional real-time driver coaching to ensure seatbelt compliance, prevent distracted driving and prevent smoking. It is fully customizable to meet the needs of each individual business.


  • Wednesday, August 02, 2023 12:37 PM | Anonymous

    The Biden administration on Friday proposed tightening an efficiency standard for new residential water heaters — a move that it said would both save consumers money and combat climate change.

    The draft rule would require that, in order to become more efficient, most common-size electric water heaters use heat pump technology and gas-powered heaters use condensing technology.

    The proposal from the Energy Department would cut 501 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 30 years, the department said. That’s the equivalent of the emissions of 134 coal-fired power plants in one year.

    The department also said the standards would save consumers $198 billion over the 30-year period.

    “Today’s actions…improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a written statement.

    “This proposal reinforces the trajectory of consumer savings that forms the key pillar of Bidenomics and builds on the unprecedented actions already taken by this Administration to lower energy costs for working families across the nation,” she added.

    The department said in its proposed rule that it’s not clear whether the rule will ultimately cost or save money for manufacturers, saying its impacts could range between a loss of $207.3 million to a gain of $165.5 million through the year 2059.

    The department’s energy efficiency rules have become a controversial topic on Capitol Hill, particularly as they pertain to gas stoves.

    Biden administration proposes tighter efficiency rule for new home water heaters | The Hill

  • Tuesday, August 01, 2023 1:31 PM | Anonymous

    New laws could soon be in place in Miami-Dade County to protect outdoor workers from the extreme heat.

    On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission passed unanimously the first reading of an ordinance to create a heat standard for outdoor workers. It would require certain employers to have an approved mandatory heat exposure safety program, access to drinking water and shaded recovery periods.

    The county could also enforce penalties if employers violate the ordinance. County leaders are calling this an important and historic legislation.

    "One death in the hot sun is one too many,” Commissioner Kionne McGhee said. "It is too damn hot not to be able to have water, shade, rest and protection."

    "People are dying everywhere from the heat,” County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

    The legislation is also a huge win for local worker advocacy organizations in South Florida, who for the past two years have demanded a Miami-Dade heat standard to guarantee protections for outdoor workers.

    Michael White works for Whiting-Turner Construction. Right now, they're building a new cancer center on Northwest 14th Street and 10th Avenue.

    His day usually starts at 6:30 a.m. and he's not packing up until almost 12 hours later.

    "It's been a different type of heat because the humidity is very strong,” White said. "You have to get the job done but you have to pace yourself."

    White says light clothing, hydration and breaks are what gets him through the day, but he says this new ordinance is needed.

    "It is a serious situation and I appreciate the county is taking a look to try and implement some things that'll make it easier,” White said.

    The county commission passed unanimously on the first reading of the ordinance. Now it goes to a committee in September. If it passes as is, the mayor says it'll be the first such law in Florida and the U.S.

    Miami-Dade County moves forward with ordinance to protect outdoor workers from extreme heat – NBC 6 South Florida (

  • Wednesday, July 19, 2023 2:22 PM | Anonymous

    Breaking down the pros and cons and the best applications for both water jetters and cable drain cleaner

    Water Jetters vs. Cable Machines: What’s the Difference?

    Since the introduction of water jets more than 30 years ago, drain cleaning professionals have pondered this question: do high pressure water jets replace cable drain cleaners?

    The answer is yes and no. Traditional cable drain cleaners do a great job of cutting up tree roots and retrieving objects. But when it comes to grease clogs, cables have a difficult time.

    Water jetters, on the other hand, are ideal for clearing grease-choked lines, as well as flushing sand from bellied lines and melting ice clogs. Jets use a stream of high-pressure water that cuts the grease off the walls of the pipe and flushes it away. The thrust of the nozzle drives the hose down the line for wall-to-wall cleaning action.

    Electric jets typically offer a maximum of 1,500 psi at about 2 gpm. Trying to get more pressure from an electric motor runs the risk of pulling too many amps and popping breakers. Better to use a gas-powered jet. You get twice the pressure and flow rate than that of electric jets. It gives you the power to cut through tough stoppages and pull the hose down longer lines, and the flow to flush larger lines clean. Gas jets can also be used to clear indoor drainlines with a portable reel. It lets you use the power of gas jets in buildings and confined spaces where exhaust fumes could be hazardous, while the jets stay safely outside.

    Beware of trying to convert your pressure washer into a water jet. Jets use vibration to overcome the friction in the pipe and help the hose glide around bends and further down the line. If you don’t have pulse, the hose could get stuck in the pipe.

    Click here for full article from P & M Magazine

  • Wednesday, July 05, 2023 11:41 AM | Anonymous

    A proposed federal rule calls for forcing companies to disclose whether their products contain toxic "forever" chemicals, the government's first attempt at cataloging the pervasiveness of PFAS across the United States.

    The Environmental Protection Agency rule would require manufacturers to report many products that contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They're a family of chemicals that don't degrade in nature and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and hormone irregularities.

    Companies would have to disclose any PFAS that have been manufactured or imported between 2011 and when the rule takes effect, with no exemptions for small businesses or for impurities or byproducts cross-contaminating goods with PFAS. Those disclosures would be available to the public, barring any trade secrets linked to the data. The EPA will finalize the rule in the coming months, agency spokesperson Catherine Milbourn said, then require companies to report back within 12 months.

    The effort excludes pesticides, foods and food additives, drugs, cosmetics, or medical devices regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Milbourn said. It also is essentially a one-time reporting and record-keeping requirement — and companies wouldn't need to provide updates.

    Still, the chemical and semiconductor industries are grumbling about what the EPA estimated is a potential $1 billion cost to comply with the rule. The U.S. chemical industry says it generates more than $500 billion annually.

    On the other side, environmental health activists say the data collection exercise would be flawed, as it accounts for only a tenth of the more than 12,000 PFAS chemicals, which are used in everything from nonstick cookware to kids' school uniforms. Moreover, they say, it wouldn't stop PFAS from making their way into the air, waste, or consumer products, nor would it clean up existing contamination.

    Congress gave the EPA the power to track PFAS chemicals in 2016, when it revised the Toxic Substances Control Act. Then a bipartisan effort in 2019, which Republican President Donald Trump signed into law, called for the EPA to inventory PFAS. However, health activists warn that unless Congress overhauls U.S. chemical laws to give the EPA and other agencies more power, PFAS will continue to threaten humans and the environment.

    These so-called forever chemicals went from marvel to bête noire in just 50 years. When PFAS debuted, they were revered for making Teflon pans nonstick and Gore-Tex jackets waterproof. They are effective at repelling water and oil yet so durable they don't break down in the natural environment. That strength has become their downfall, as the chemicals accumulate in landfills, soil, drinking water supplies, and, ultimately, human bodies. As scientists learn more about PFAS' toxic nature, governments around the world have set limits or imposed outright bans.


  • Wednesday, July 05, 2023 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    Determining Whether a Job Is a Simple Repair or Full Repipe - Consider these three questions when you’re deciding between repair and repipe options on a job

    The decision on whether to repair a failed section of pipe or recommend a full repipe isn’t always an easy one.

    Homeowners may balk at the expense of a repipe, but if problems are systemic, it could save them from additional failures and expensive damage down the line. On the other hand, there may not be a reason to repipe a home if the cause of the failure is isolated. The challenge for plumbers, then, is to accurately determine the cause of the failures and diagnose which are isolated and which are likely to lead to future problems.

    Here are three questions that can guide you through that process:

    Is the problem related to a localized external cause? 

    All plumbing materials can be weakened by exposure to certain chemicals, and different plumbing systems are incompatible with different chemicals. Plastic plumbing systems, for example, may be incompatible with some household chemicals commonly stored under sinks. In the case of failures in these locations, replacing the plastic stub-out with a copper one should resolve the issue. 

    CPVC can be softened by the plasticizers in some rubbers and flexible vinyl products. If you encounter CPVC that has softened and failed after contact with a rubber or flexible vinyl product, there’s a good chance you’ve found the cause of the failure. Use the FBC System Compatible Program to identify materials that are compatible and incompatible with FlowGuard Gold CPVC.

    PEX, another common plastic plumbing system, is known to have compatibility concerns with closed-cell spray foam insulation, organic chemicals, strong acids, strong bases, solvents, petroleum distillates and adhesive tapes. The plastic fittings used in PEX systems are particularly vulnerable to damage from exposure to PVC primers for solvent welding, which can cause the fittings to split or shatter under minimal stress. If you encounter isolated failures in a PEX system that has been exposed to external chemicals, try to identify the chemical exposure and verify its compatibility with the pipe manufacturer to determine if it could be a likely cause.

    These failures are likely to be isolated to the area of exposure and in most cases can be repaired by cutting out the affected section and replacing it, while simultaneously removing the external source of the failure. 

    Is the problem related to corrosion/degradation caused by chemicals in the water?

    Two of the most common plumbing systems, PEX and copper, are vulnerable to degradation or corrosion caused by water chemistry, including the chlorine-based disinfectants used to ensure the safety of drinking water. These failures are most common on the hot water side and are often characterized by discoloration and pin-hole leaks that are most severe in the areas of highest temperature and pressure — most typically close to the water heater or in a hot water recirculating line. 

    Plumbers may be reluctant to recommend a repipe if the system isn’t that old, but age shouldn’t be a determining factor. While these failures are typically most severe in localized areas, the damage to the system can occur throughout the piping. Homeowners who have initially replaced small sections of degraded pipe have gone on to experience multiple failures due to chlorine degradation in homes that are 10 years old or less

    To identify signs of degradation in PEX piping, look for cracking along the length of the pipe, permeation of the print line into the inner wall of the pipe and discoloration or “popcorning” of the exterior wall of a translucent pipe. In pipes that have been colored red, white or blue this effect may be harder to see but can still be identified by the presence of multiple short, thin splits in the pipe.

    Related: Give Customers a Healthy Home With the Right Piping Materials

    Is the problem related to the installation of the system?

    This is where things can get a little tricky as failures due to installation errors are usually isolated but could require a repipe if they were repeated across the system. Across all systems, including PEX, copper and CPVC, leaks or blow-outs at a fitting can be an indication of installer error where the fitting was improperly crimped, soldered or solvent cemented. These errors could be isolated or could be a sign of an inexperienced plumber who made the same mistake with every fitting.

    Improper handling of thermal expansion and contraction can also result in isolated or systemic failures. For example, in a CPVC system the force on a pipe from thermal expansion and contraction can exceed 1,200 psi under the right circumstances. With CPVC, expansion and contraction-related failures will only occur if expansion and contraction were not properly accounted for in the installation. These failures can be identified by looking for fittings, such as 90-degree elbows or tees, which have been distorted from their original 90-degree angle due to the force of expansion.

    With PEX common methods of accounting for expansion and contraction could actually increase the risk of chlorine-induced failures caused by flexing the pipe where it has been bent. These failures can be identified by circumferential cracking that is distinct from the cracking along the length of the pipe that is a sign of chlorine degradation. Circumferential cracking is often misdiagnosed as damage from nicking or scratching during installation, but actually results from the combination of stress and chlorine exposure.

    It is important to note that the presence of an expansion tank does nothing to protect against thermal expansion and contraction of the pipe. These tanks are designed to account for pressure spikes caused by thermal expansion of the water, not the effect of temperature changes on the pipe itself. 

    Choosing the right material for a repipe

    If a repipe is necessary, you have an opportunity to address the root cause of the problem and prevent future failures from the same cause. If the source of the failure(s) was that the plumbing system was incompatible with local water conditions, it only makes sense to choose a material that can handle those conditions. 

    Article courtesy of Plumbing & Mechanical, By Jonathan Simon
    June 29, 2023

  • Wednesday, July 05, 2023 10:36 AM | Anonymous

    Passive fire and smoke barriers in walls, ceilings, and floors are integral to building safety, slowing the spread of fire and smoke. Engineers and architects design mechanical systems using various piping materials for applications such as drain, waste, and vent; water distribution; fire-suppression sprinklers; and other applications. When pipes pass through walls, ceilings, and floors, it is essential to ensure the integrity of fire barriers by using appropriately rated firestop assemblies. If a pipe or other penetration fails due to excessive heat associated with fire and the associated firestop assembly does not remain secured, the resulting gap will compromise the barrier.

    “When a fire is actively burning, it’s going to create a lot of heat and pressure,” explains Bruce Johnson, a fire marshal who works with Underwriters Laboratories. “Even the smallest void that’s not protected with proper firestopping almost acts like a blowtorch. You’re going to have really hot flames, gas, and smoke going through that opening… so it rapidly spreads the fire and smoke.”

    Failures of firestops and fire barriers can cause devastating tragedies. A fire at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas killed 85 people and injured another 679 when a wall of flames “fed by wallpaper, PVC piping, glue, and plastic mirrors… blew out the main entrance,” according to accounts. “It took six minutes for the entire casino floor to be fully engulfed.

    Failures of firestops contributed to dozens of deaths in 1980

    ”To protect the lives of building occupants – and first responders – architects, engineers, and construction professionals must ensure these critical components meet the highest standards for safety. Failures in the event of a fire will trigger serious questions – and liability.  To that end, this report reviews issues related to firestopping assemblies for various plastic piping materials including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), polyethylene (PE), and crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) plastic, as well as non-combustible piping materials such as copper, iron, and steel.

    How Pipe Combustibility Affects Firestopping

    Codes require firestopping of penetrations in fire barriers, but the complexity of firestop assemblies is significantly different for copper and iron pipes than those required for PVC, CPVC, PEX, PE and other plastic pipe materials. That’s because during fires, the petroleum-based compounds in plastic pipes are combustible. They represent a fuel source for smoke and flames. According to Firefighter Insider, structural fires routinely reach 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Plastic pipes start to melt around 413 degrees and begin to combust at about 790 degrees. 

    By contrast, non-combustible copper and iron pipes will not burn; they begin to melt when they reach temperatures of around 2,000 degrees. (Note that steel used in structural beams may lose a significant portion of its strength when the metal reaches a temperature of about 1,100 degrees.) The chart above shows melting and combustion temperatures for commonly used plumbing materials.

    Why Firestopping Pipe Can Cause Issues

    Despite the combustibility of plastic, many building codes allow use of plastic in plumbing systems, even in buildings with firewalls. This use is permitted with one stipulation, however, and it’s one that turns out to be significant:

    Every firestop assembly in a building must meet all applicable regulations.

    Designing and installing firestop assemblies for piping penetrations requires a demanding process. Teams must understand which code requirements apply to their situation, select appropriate components, and install them correctly.

    Pipe penetrations through fire barrier. Photo by & copyright of Achim Hering, used under terms of Creative Commons & ShareAlike.

    There are hundreds of different firestop products on the market, and thousands of different firestop configurations, because what’s needed to ensure safety depends on many factors.

    Here are a few, but others may apply as well:

    • Type of wall, ceiling, or floor material,
    • Thickness of the wall/ceiling/floor,
    • Location and orientation in the building,
    • Pipe diameter, and
    • Type of piping material

    The consideration of material listed above is particularly important for all plastic pipes for two reasons.


    First, various types of plastic – including CPVC, PVC, PEX, PE, and others – are susceptible to chemical damage. According to the Plastic Pipe Institute’s firestopping guide, “firestop sealants may contain chemical additives that can cause damage to plastic pipe.” This means that if a material not compatible with the pipe is used, a chemical interaction could weaken the pipe or cause it to prematurely fail even during normal use.

    Second and equally important is the fact that firestop assemblies for plastic pipes are more complicated than firestops for non-combustible metal pipes. Because plastic pipes melt and burn, the assembly must not only account for space around the pipe, but for the space occupied by the pipe itself. A firestop assembly for copper and iron pipes may only require these two components:

    1. Fire-resistant material filling the annular space (typically mineral wool) and
    2. Firestopping caulk applied around the pipe.

    By contrast, assemblies for plastic pipes may feature all the following:

    1. Intumescent material in the annular space adequate to crush the pipe and fill the entire opening when heated,
    2. A collar or other device to secure the assembly to the wall, containing the intumescent material in the annular space,
    3. Fasteners appropriate for the wall type to ensure the collar remains fixed to the wall, and
    4. Caulk applied around the opening.

    As the number of components and combinations in a firestop assembly increases, so does the risk of error. And in practice, firestop experts see more problems in the field with complex assemblies. Firestopping consultant Sharron Halpert dedicates an entire section of her excellent website to identifying “classic mistakes” she’s found in the field, including one installation she says is “very rarely done correctly.”

    Five Common Errors to Avoid

    Eirene Knott, Director of Code Services for BRR Architecture, gave Building Safety Journal a good summary of the challenge: “The importance of firestopping in life safety has been well documented but, unfortunately, not well understood,” she wrote. “…Unless you install firestop systems exactly as their listing details, there can be no guarantee that they will perform as intended.” Knott finds that issues occur throughout the building process, a view shared by many other experts in the area. Sources across the industry – including many manufacturers’ websites – offer case studies and other examples.

    Here are several common issues related to pipe penetrations:

    1. Contractors who “roll their own” firestop assembly instead of using a listed system. Most codes require that a listed system be used.
    2. Contractors who install listed systems for firestop but modify the assemblies and/or fail to follow ALL installation requirements.
    3. Using firestop systems improperly sized for the annular space they need to protect. “If it’s too small you can’t get sealant placed properly, if it’s too big it can’t survive the hose stream test,” explains Halpert. “If you want to do ONE thing to improve firestop installations (ergo the level of life safety in a building)… it would be to coordinate annular spaces…especially in plastic pipe applications.”
    4. Mixing products from different manufacturers in the same opening
    5. Using firestop materials (e.g., caulk) that are not chemically compatible with a given pipe material. This is most common with pipe made of CPVC, HDPE, PEX, and PVC.
    6. Installing “expired” firestop materials that are beyond the limits of their shelf life. A related problem: installing firestop materials that have been stored or installed at a temperature or humidity that is outside the allowable range. Note that some manufacturers say expired materials are okay to use, so long as they can be troweled into place.

    “There is quite a lengthy list of items which can result in problems with the installation of firestopping materials…  any one of these items can contribute to a two-hour wall being reduced to a four-minute wall.”


    Here are several processes that design and building teams should incorporate into their projects to ensure successful completion of firestopping requirements for piping penetrations: 

    • Meet with a firestopping consultant at the specification and construction drawing stage to select products that meet all safety requirements. “Plan your firestop BEFORE you make holes,” says Halpert.
    • Have the team evaluate which combinations of pipe materials and firestop assemblies will perform best over the life of the building, considering issues such as
      • Chemical compatibility between pipe materials and firestopping materials,
      • Thermal expansion/contraction of long vertical and horizontal pipe runs, and
      • Ease of maintaining and repairing piping systems.
      • Consider retaining a single-source firestopping contractor who holds UL certification or has met the requirements for FM4991 – Standard for the Approval of Firestop Contractors accreditation program. “Single source fire stopping is so important because you have one source – meaning one contractor – who is trained and has the knowledge to apply the firestopping,” says fire service lieutenant Rick Conti.
    • Commission a special inspection of firestopping, in which the inspector will either witness installation of 10% of all firestop systems or perform destructive testing of 2% of systems. This is required by the International Building Code (IBC) for buildings 75 feet and above by ASTM E2174-14b – Standard Practice for On-Site Inspection of Installed Firestop Systems. If the inspector performs destructive testing, they will be looking to ensure that the installed system meets the requirements and parameters of the specific listed system used in that project.
    • Label each listed system used for firestop with the details of the listed system, including
      • Manufacturer and model
      • Installer name and company, and
      • Installation date.

    Failing to follow good practices, or installing firestop assemblies incorrectly will put occupants and first responders at risk if a fire occurs. Not to mention exposing architects, engineers, contractors, and owners to significant liability. In a follow-up to her first article, firestopping expert Knott said this about the challenges associated with doing firestopping well: “Clearly, there is quite a lengthy list of items which can result in problems with the installation of firestopping materials… [and] any one of these items can contribute to a two-hour wall being reduced to a four-minute wall.”

    To build resilient, safe buildings, design and construction professionals must work to reduce fire risks, and the KISS principle – keep it simple stupid – might be the best way to prioritize safety. 

    DOWNLOAD FULL Firestopping-Report.pdf

    -Article courtesy of:


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