Industry Doesn’t Slow Down During a Pandemic

Tools, technology continue to improve in the industry, even during a year where everything else seemed to stop.

Industry Doesn’t Slow Down During a Pandemic

  Sherry Daniel, owner and operator of Roto-Rooter Plumbers of Savannah, Georgia. (Photo courtesy Roto-Rooter Plumbers)

Interested in Tools?

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

Tools + Get Alerts

Legendary musician Frank Zappa once said, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” Given that the past year is sure to go down in history as a stark example of what it means to really deviate from the norm, a much-needed upside is knowing that advances in the plumbing industry have not slowed down.

Sherry Daniel, owner and CEO of Roto-Rooter of Savannah, Georgia, is one industry veteran aware of the growing trends that have continued to surge during the pandemic.

With 45 years in the industry, she offered some keen insights into what’s new. Asked for her list of the three most impactful technologies, she stated without hesitation, “Tankless hot water heaters, copper press tools and smart leak detection devices.”

TANKLESS WATER HEATERS

Most people in the business know tankless water heaters have been around a while but haven’t attained expected levels of popularity until recently.

“Tankless is booming,” Daniel says. “Initially, systems were electric, and many homes didn’t have enough power.”

Abundant and cheap natural gas has been a game-changer with the tankless water heaters. Newer gas-powered models are gaining market share rapidly. Aside from the less expensive fuel, they are more energy-efficient, far more so than hot water tanks. An additional and fairly new benefit is the ability to install them outside the home. Daniel also noted that tankless has become a popular option in new home construction, from starter homes to custom builds.

PRESS TOOLS

While tankless hot water systems are a huge benefit to homeowners, a recent trend that makes the work of plumbers easier is copper press tools that allow for faster pipefitting without the need to solder.

Two major benefits are time saved and less company liability. A traditionalist at heart, Daniel was not immediately a fan. However, the advantages were hard to deny. “Eventually I was won over,” she says.

LEAK DETECTION

Various smart devices have a mixed record in Daniel’s view, but she is very impressed by the latest smart leak detection.

“The better models can find a leak of one drop per minute,” Daniel says.

In a city like Savannah, with so many homes near or past the century mark, this technology is vital. Finding a leak under the foundation of a house early can save the homeowner large sums of money. The technology can also find leaks in older municipal pipes, something most cities have plenty of.

Daniel discussed additional trends she is seeing in Savannah, including more motion sensors on commercial toilets and faucets. Georgia participates in the EPA’s WaterSense program, so she also expects to see growth in residential motion sensors. Following the success of copper press crimping, Daniel believes the next trend in tools is carbon steel crimp fitting for gas lines. Another sensor-related advancement that could cause tankless hot water to grow further is a smart system that learns the household’s daily routine of showering, dishwasher use and other hot-water-intensive needs, resulting in higher efficiency operation.

NOT MEETING EXPECTATIONS

Despite the many breakthroughs, Daniel explained that some trends that were hyped upon introduction have not met expectations. Some systems proved to be too complex and expensive for the anticipated benefit and limited practical use. There are simply too many additional parts that can break down, such as the pump for tanks positioned below the seat, that are not found in standard toilets. 

While not a fan of the overly complicated mechanics of many smart toilets, a recent advancement that Daniel believes will become ubiquitous is voice activation.

“Will we be telling Siri to flush? I think so,” Daniel says. And as copper crimping tools make it easier to choose metal pipes over plastics (which are also improving), the cost of copper can work against that. “There are just more viable options now to choose the best material for the job.”

Technology and innovations occur faster than ever, and if the last few years are any indicator, the next 10 are bound to be that much better.

“Any technology that can help is welcomed,” Daniel says.  

Frank Ricci is a professional writer with Cecilia Russo Marketing, living in Savannah, Georgia. During his career, he’s lent his talents to Mandalay Resort Group, Dell, Gulfstream Aerospace, Root Sports Network, Mirage Resorts and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Originally from New Jersey, Frank is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C.



Discussion

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.