Commercial Plumbing/New Commercial Construction

Commercial Plumbing/New Commercial Construction
Condensing boilers cut school’s heating costs in half

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Common vent kit helps country club save cost and space

Problem: The Hillendale Country Club in Phoenix, Maryland, has a mechanical room that is very small with not a lot of headroom. When it came time to replace the aging atmospheric water heaters, the board wanted to upgrade to a higher-efficiency product that would lower operating costs.

Solution: A. O. Smith has a new common venting system for its Cyclone MXi family of condensing water heaters that reduces the number of wall penetrations contractors must cut for intake air and exhaust, reduces the amount of vent piping needed for each installation and saves floor space in mechanical rooms. Installers can manifold two units for an installation, but need to run only one intake and one exhaust for sidewall venting. Two Cyclone BTH-250s have been hard at work the last five months, providing abundant hot water to the club’s kitchen, according to Jeff Yates, a board member of the 500-member club. Yates, who spent over two decades in the plumbing industry, recommended the heaters. The installer, James A. Quick of nearby Forest Hill, was creative with the venting, using two 45-degree elbows and approximately 30 feet of vent pipe. The common vent kit is rated to 50 equivalent feet of venting from the final tee of an installation.

Result: During peak demand periods, Hillendale frequently serves between 500 and 600 guests, Yates says, including plenty of weddings. This creates the need for a lot of hot water in the kitchen, and the two manifold Cyclone units are equal to the task. Conversely, during golf’s off-season, when business at the club slows down, the modulating feature ensures the two units continue to operate at up to 98 percent efficiency. 800/527-1953;

Magnetic dirt separator helps boilers operate more efficiently

Problem: An old cast iron boiler system used for heating a large church compound in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, was retrofitted with high-efficiency condensing boilers and ECM primary loop circulators. The secondary side of the system was left intact, including the heat emitters, which included VAVs, radiators and in-floor radiant. After startup and despite the upgrades, the system experienced intermittent performance problems, including clogged low-water sensors and lower than expected total system operating efficiency.


Solution: Accutemp Mechanical of Kenosha, Wisconsin, discovered magnetite was present and likely existed throughout the system. General manager Ben Rader had learned about the Caleffi DIRTMAG magnetic dirt separator, providing high-performance magnetic particle separation. He decided to install one on the primary loop return header, with a plan to intermittently purge the separator as the various heating zones began calling with the approaching cold weather.

Result: The first two purges conducted at weeks 2 and 4 resulted in significant iron oxide elimination. The system was full of the highly abrasive, microscopic magnetic particles formed with iron and steel corrosion over time. This restored efficient operating levels to expected targets, with a substantial reduction in maintenance. The water looks good enough for drinking, with tests coming back stable now, requiring less chemical usage, which, for the prior system, was used to combat the continual fluctuation in water quality. 414/238-2360;

Pipe cutting system effective on aluminum piping

Problem: Cutting aluminum pipe material on site at the Blackhillock Substation in northern Scotland presented safety, efficiency and accuracy challenges. Finding a portable pipe cutting system that met those demands and was capable of cutting a multitude of pipe sizes was difficult. The teeth of previous cutters generally became embedded with aluminum particles after the first cut, resulting in the need to continuously clean debris.


Solution: Exact Pipe Tools provided a demonstration of its 280E PipeCut system. In addition to being light and easy to use, the teeth didn’t get clogged with aluminum particles during the cutting process.

Result: “After such an impressive demonstration, we did not hesitate to invest in this innovative portable solution for cutting pipe material, which we would highlyrecommend,” says site supervisor Roger Chatterton.

CPVC piping eliminates biofilm and corrosion problems for hospital potable water transport

Problem: When Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, decided to build a new wing, it sought a piping system for potable water transport that would eliminate problems experienced with copper piping such as biofilm buildup, corrosion and high cost.

Solution: The hospital decided to install Corzan CPVC Schedule 80 Piping from GF Piping Systems for the conveyance of hot and cold potable water. With sizes from 1/2 to 6 inches in diameter, the hospital was able to install Corzan for the entire system. The piping resists harmful bacteria and biofilm buildup to provide clean, safe drinking water. The pipe and fittings are extruded/molded from CPVC compounds and certified by NSF International for use with potable water.

Result: The system is being installed and is expected to outperform the copper piping that currently exists throughout the rest of the hospital structure in terms of purity and cost. 800/854-4090;

Fittings save plumber time and money

Problem: When a California homeowner needed to repipe his entire home, he hired Dave Parra from Discount Plumbing, Heating and Air to tackle the task.

Solution: Recognizing that this was one of the most time-consuming and demanding plumbing jobs a technician could come across, Parra installed John Guest Twist & Lock Fittings in the 2,000-square-foot residence. It took approximately half the time to complete the job versus soldering and joining pipe. To make one cold connection, it took Parra less than three minutes versus 15 minutes for a copper connection. Parra only needed 20 fittings, 100 feet of PEX tubing and 6 feet of copper pipe for connection stubs, which reduced the difficulty of work.

Result: Using Twist & Lock Fittings not only reduced time on the job, but also complexity of installation and cost. Parra says he was very happy with the fittings and that it was a good system that keeps the job moving fast.

Condensing boilers cut school’s heating costs in half

Problem: When the administration at Loudon Elementary School, in Loudon, New Hampshire, needed to trim budgets, attention turned to the boiler room. Five old oil boilers were burning about $30,000 worth of fuel to heat the 59,000-square-foot building each heating season. And to make matters worse, old oil lines from the outdoor tank needed to be replaced.  

Solution: The accepted bid specified Burnham Alpine condensing boilers from U.S. Boiler. Bow Plumbing and Heating was hired to install four 500 MBH (thousands of Btus per hour) condensing boilers that offer 95 percent thermal efficiency and a 5-1 turndown ratio, and are available from 80 to 800 MBH. Because they can connect with a Cat 5 cable in a multiple-boiler application, the units provide a 20-1 turndown ratio while operating in a lead, lag and rotate configuration. They were stacked two high in the mechanical room. A 3-inch primary loop was installed, along with new circulators.

Result: The project avoided replacing the oil lines and cut boiler maintenance costs by over $1,000 a year. Heating costs fell by $15,000 the first year, and with a utility rebate of $16,000, the retrofit yielded a 1 1/2-year payback. 717/397-4701;

High-efficiency boilers heat rehabilitation and skilled care center

Problem: A facility providing short-term skilled care and long-term custodial and intermediate nursing care for veterans in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, found itself constantly running out of heat in 2015. Nine oil-fired boilers had been used to heat the facility, but were failing to provide heat to residents as winter began to set in.


Solution: In mid-October, Tyngsborough, Massachusetts-based installing and specifying contractor Denommee Plumbing and Heating removed the nine boilers totaling 1.8 million Btu and installed three Weil-McLain Evergreen 399 boilers totaling 1.197 million Btu. Installation took two days, with one boiler up and running the first day.

Result: The facility went from using nine boilers to three Evergreen 399 boilers, and found a positive difference in overall comfort. The boilers were easy to install, use and maintain, and continue to live up to their design.


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