Case Studies - October 2020

Case Studies - October 2020

Interested in Commercial Plumbing?

Get Commercial Plumbing articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Commercial Plumbing + Get Alerts

Fertilizer producer replaces boilers with tankless water heater systems to slash maintenance and energy costs

Problem: Wedgworth’s, an industrial fertilizer manufacturer, 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 the company’s tendency to run short of hot water. Wedgworth’s wanted to find a system that would meet its 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 America NC380 tankless units in Clewiston. 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 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. Ken Bruce, director of liquid operations, 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;

Supply box system delivers labor savings at hotel project 

Problem: The new, 27-floor Grand Hyatt Nashville in Tennessee contains 591 well-appointed guest rooms, each with a shower, toilet, and double-bowl, his-and-her vanity. Installer Lee Co. knew that even a modest cut in installation labor for a project of this magnitude — repeated over that many rooms — would yield substantial savings.

Solution: To gain that savings, Lee recommended that the MODA Supply Box System from Oatey be used for the plumbing connections at the water closet and at the lavatory’s hot- and cold-water supply lines in each room. On a conventional install, the plumber caps the rough-in coming out of the wall with a copper stub-out before a pressure test is conducted. Once the test is completed, the plumber returns to replace the cap with the proper compression valve for eventual hookup to the toilet or sink. But with MODA, installers can skip the interim copper stub-out and simply rough in the modular box, including the compression valve itself, saving labor.

Result: The boxes enabled Lee to cut installation costs substantially. To further accommodate the owner and the general contractor, local Oatey rep Jim McClain repainted the MODA faceplates to match the color of the return-air grille in each room. Meanwhile, Lee’s installers repositioned the toilet boxes to be less visible to guests. The installation was so successful, McClain says, “Lee has started to make these boxes part of its standard protocol for when it quotes a commercial job. The boxes are becoming a key part of how the company does plumbing.” 800-203-1155;

Coffee shop owner overcomes application challenge by installing drain pumps

Problem: Revelstoke Coffee is a classic, contemporary coffee shop in downtown Concord, New Hampshire. The owner, Alex Stoyle faced a major plumbing issue. Leasing in an almost 200-year-old building, Stoyle knew it would be challenging to install a conventional, below-floor pipeline for the drainage of his equipment, which includes two espresso machines, a dishwasher, an ice machine, a three-base sink, two prep sinks and a reverse osmosis water filter. Conventional plumbing would require breaking through the floor, which wasn’t really an option given the building’s age and the fact that there is a unit below them.

Solution: A cost-effective, innovative, above-floor plumbing system eliminates the need for expensive, conventional below-floor drainage. Designed for commercial and residential applications, the Sanicom 1 from Saniflo can discharge graywater away from a variety of fixtures, up to 25 feet vertically and/or 250 feet horizontally. Small enough to fit inside a kitchen cabinet, the unit was designed to meet the toughest applications.

Result: According to Stoyle, “Other plumbers coming through the coffee shop would say: ‘Wow, this is a great setup. I don’t know if I would’ve even come up with this, but it’s pretty cool.’” Stoyle reports that the system has performed well. “It’s hard to put a dollar value on it, but without these pumps, our business wouldn’t be operational. Saniflo made the business possible, and the Sanicom 1 units have saved us a lot of time, money and headaches.” 800-571-8191;

University research facility studies efficiency while saving energy

Problem: Energy efficiency was the top priority in the design of the Power House, a LEED Platinum energy-research facility at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The new 65,000-square-foot building features three mechanical systems — plumbing, radiant heating and cooling, and hydronic distribution — all using PEX pipe.

Solution: Installer Jeff Makepeace, owner of Lind’s Plumbing and Heating, chose PEX-a piping, manufactured by Uponor. The reason, Makepeace says, pointing to the project’s 8,000 pipe connections is that PEX-a is tougher, longer-lasting and easier to install than copper. The Power House showcases the advantages of PEX in all three mechanical applications. Adding to the complexity, the radiant heating and cooling system functions without a chiller. “Colorado, with its dry air, gives us a perfect opportunity to install a cooling tower instead of a chiller,” Makepeace says. “It is typical for a cooling tower to be on a site to cool down a chiller. But, in this case, there is no chiller.” The Power House used 157,000 feet of Uponor AquaPEX, ranging from 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, for both the heating and plumbing applications. “It was more economical to use AquaPEX along with stainless steel components to alleviate any rust concerns,” Makepeace says.

Result: Only 20 amps of electricity — or half the power of a residential range top — can move all the water needed to heat the Power House, according to Makepeace. The building uses one-fourth of the energy of a comparatively sized structure that does not use radiant. 800-321-4739;

SlimFit boilers provide hot water to egg processing plant

Problem: When Pine Valley Ranch, a Spencerville, Ohio-based egg-breaking facility, was looking for an energy-efficient way to wash 600 cases of eggs an hour, they turned to Consolidated Hunter Heating, Plumbing and Air Conditioning, a local heating contractor, and Pickrel Bros., a leading provider of industrial heating supplies, to help present options.

Solution: Their recommendation? Install six Weil-McLain SlimFit 750 commercial high-efficiency hot-water boilers. “We’re an egg-breaking plant,” explains Evan Fleck, an owner of Pine Valley Ranch. “Our eggs come straight from the barn and are immediately washed. Then they are broken, separated and chilled. Once this is done, they are loaded into liquid tankers and shipped to be pasteurized. Every step of the process is important, especially the washing of the eggs. We need plenty of hot water for that, as well as for other daily operations.” The larger SlimFit 1000-2000 models feature a narrow “door-fit” profile and integrated rolling casters for improved installation maneuverability in confined spaces and weight-restricted areas, saving contractors time and money. Other standard features include a composite condensate tray for heat exchanger longevity, customizable control mounting location (front or side) and leveling legs, which mitigate the need for a concrete service pad.

Result: “We appreciate how the Weil-McLain boiler system enhances our operation,” Fleck says. “The equipment was installed when the facility was built so they’ve been part of our production process from the beginning. Running a plant of this size always presents challenges, but our hot-water needs are not one of them.” 855-248-1777; 


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.