Case Studies: October 2021

Case Studies: October 2021

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Fertilizer producer replaces boilers with multiple-unit tankless water heater systems

Problem: Industrial fertilizer manufacturer Wedgworth’s Inc. uses approximately 35,000 gallons of hot water daily at its operations in Clewiston and Lake Placid, Florida. The company had previously used a gas-fired boiler system to meet these massive hot-water needs. But in recent years, management grew weary of their tendency to run short of hot water. The company wanted to find a system that would meet their hot-water needs on a consistent basis, even when servicing is required, while also maximizing fuel savings and environmental stewardship.

Solution: In 2017, Wedgworth’s chose to install 15 Noritz NC380 tankless units. Fifteen months later, having found this solution even more efficient than anticipated, management relocated seven units to the larger Lake Placid operation, combining them with 10 Noritz NCC300 heaters to create a new tankless system. Among the attractions of tankless are the operational advantages of unit redundancy: If any tankless unit needs servicing, the others will continue to deliver the required volumes of hot water to support Wedgworth’s production processes.

Result: The tankless systems have consistently met the hot water needs of both facilities in an energy-efficient, environmentally responsible manner with minimal maintenance. But director of liquid operations Ken Bruce is not overly concerned about service costs: “I could easily replace 10, maybe more, of those tankless units annually, and still finish below my former expenses for boiler service. Add the required monthly and yearly boiler inspection fees to keep the old units safe and operational, and the savings with tankless are tremendous.” 714-433-2905;

Compression-sleeve fitting system supports hotel’s long-term investment strategy

Problem: Fairfield Inn & Suites at Harrisburg International Airport is a 123-room, Marriott-branded property located directly adjacent to Pennsylvania’s third largest airport. With gate areas only a short walk away, the hotel is a welcome addition to the airport, which serves more than 1.2 million travelers each year. Vice president of design and construction Bill Hoy needed to ensure the building systems he specified would last long past the sparkle and excitement of the hotel’s grand opening. “We don’t build and sell our properties; we’re in it for the duration. When it comes to building systems, the cheaper alternatives can really hurt long-term profitability,” Hoy said. “That’s why we chose REHAU PEXa plumbing systems for this property.”

Solution: According to Hoy, in addition to its strength and durability, a main reason for choosing the REHAU PEXa plumbing system is that Shaner Hotels is steering away from copper plumbing in their properties. “We really want to avoid the higher risk of leaks, corrosion and buildup inside copper pipe that can happen over time,” he said. “With RAUPEX plumbing pipe and EVERLOC+ fittings, we’re not worried about long-term performance issues, and the plumbing contractor was happy with the smooth installation process.”

Result: Darrin Fahnestock, commercial plumbing manager at Brubaker, agreed. During his 23 years at Brubaker, he has had experience with many large commercial installations using various types of materials. “Even though this was our first time using the REHAU PEXa plumbing system, we were able to get started relatively quickly once we arrived on the job site. The EVERLOC+ system didn’t take much time to master; all of the components are designed to work together to create solid connections,” he said. Compared to a similar-size copper installation, Fahnestock says the REHAU PEXa installation went much faster. “It was easier to get the pipe routed, connections were made quickly and I felt very confident that the system was solid and secure once we were finished,” Fahnestock said. 800-247-9445;

Bathroom trailer manufacturer chooses above-floor macerating and grinder solutions for Super Bowl

Problem: Ameri-Can Engineering, a portable restroom and shower manufacturer, was charged with supplying units for Super Bowl LV in February of 2021. They were asked to build portable restroom trailers that were wheelchair accessible and in compliance with ADA regulations. Technicians were in search of a reliable and durable plumbing solution that could maintain the heavy commercial usage and allow for wheelchair accessibility.

Solution: Ameri-Can chief operating officer Keegan Campbell chose Saniflo’s above-floor plumbing technology five years ago. According to Campbell, “Saniflo products are the best solution for heavy commercial usage because they eliminate chances of clogging and pump failures.” Sanicompact was the ideal solution for this event because it’s a self-contained unit with a built-in macerator perfect for small spaces. Simultaneously, the dual-flush toilet system works to macerate toilet wastewater and discharge graywater from a sink. With the use of Saniflo Sanicompact through Mid-City Supply, Ameri-Can was able to build custom portable pods for the 2021 Super Bowl LV in just two weeks with a timely setup of 15 minutes on site. The pods included ground level ramps with connected systems that tied into waste tanks through 1-inch flex discharge pipes.

Result: Overall, labor time decreased. With the result of a clean, time-efficient installation, Campbell stated with satisfaction in completion of the project that, “Saniflo units really hold their own when faced with high-volume usage in a large public gathering,” says Campbell. “Besides combining this benefit with ADA compliance, the company also offers a broad range of reliable options for us to meet customer needs. The customer service and warranty support are also outstanding.” 800-571-8191;

Snow melt system installed on campus pedestrian bridge

Problem: At 15 feet wide and 970 feet long, spanning across an interstate highway, a street and railroad tracks, the UVU Pedestrian Bridge on the Orem campus of Utah Valley University provides safe, cross-campus access to 5,000 students daily. University officials sought a solution to safely remove snow from frequent storms in the area. The structure’s height (22 to 35 feet above ground) presented its builders with a major construction challenge.

Solution: The original specification called for the hydronic-distribution piping on the bridge’s underside, feeding the snow melt grid, to be built with 4-inch steel pipe. Installers would be assigned to weld the steel pipe to feed the snow melt grid on the bridge’s underside. Mechanical contractor Thermal Engineering persuaded the engineer to specify PP-RCT from Uponor instead. The lightweight, noncorrosive plastic polymer would be easier and safer to handle, even while using heat-fusion machinery to make pipe connections 30 feet in the air. The PP-RCT weighs only 63 pounds.

Result: A total of 1,900 linear feet of PP-RCT, from 2 1/2 inches to 4 inches, performs a supply-and-return function, transporting a warm glycol solution to-and-from a boiler to the snow-melt grid. The bridge is designed to move up to 18 inches in all directions, according to Thermal Engineering’s Aaron Frailey. “I was concerned about the joint integrity of a steel piping system with all that movement, and I really liked the flexibility of PP-RCT to handle it.” 800-321-4739;  

Retrofit in active warehouse possible with press fittings

Problem: A warehouse in Grantsville, Maryland, needed to retrofit 1,340 feet of gas line without closing the busy facility. Going from a dry sprinkler system to a wet one meant the warehouse had to be heated. Workers needed to get in and out quickly while avoiding heavy forklift traffic.

Solution: BYCO Enterprises was picked to run the gas line and install 12 Reznor heaters in the 120,000-square-foot facility. Installers ran about 200 feet of 3-inch gas pipe and 420 feet of 2-inch pipe. The lines transitioned down to 1 1/4, 1 and 1/2 inch in different locations. Four forklifts move constantly throughout the warehouse, so project foreman Wesley Brenneman explained that his crew would shut down an aisle when needed, then get in and out as quickly as possible so they weren’t holding up the warehouse workers any more than necessary. The warehouse job was BYCO’s first use of MegaPress. Brenneman said BYCO first got to know Viega products when the company started using ProPress for exposed fire-suppression systems a few years ago. Once they realized the speed afforded by press fittings, BYCO visited Viega’s New Hampshire Seminar Center and got certified for PureFlow PEX systems, too.

Result: Traditional methods, such as threading or welding, could have potentially closed the warehouse for a couple months. BYCO was instead able to allow the warehouse to stay open while wrapping up the job in only about three weeks using press technology. 800-976-9819;  


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