Consider PEX for buried, gray-water uses

The durability and flexibility of PEX piping makes it an excellent choice for buried/in-slab applications.

The durability and flexibility of PEX piping makes it an excellent choice for buried/in-slab applications.

In the past 15 years, PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) piping has become an increasingly popular product in the commercial building sector due to its flexibility; superior resistance to freeze damage, scaling, and corrosion; and stable material costs.
   Though PEX is a great product to replace metallic piping in the typical overhead applications, its real benefit comes with in-slab and below-grade installations where the product’s flexibility and continuous lengths can be utilized.

Below-grade Applications
For below-grade applications, certain PEX products can be directly buried in soil environments free of solvents (check with local code for burial approvals). For installations requiring a watertight piping system, look to a pre-insulated product that offers nominal diameters of 3/4 to 4 in., with a corrugated HDPE outer jacket and inner closed-cell PEX-foam insulation.
   Ideal building types for below-grade installations are single-level, retail-type layouts with large footprints and grouped fixtures. The PEX piping is typically routed from the building’s mechanical room through a trench to the various wet walls throughout the building. Installers can cut considerable amounts of time from projects by eliminating the need for lifts to install overhead hangers and supports.

In-slab Applications
Some PEX piping can also be installed directly in concrete. It’s best to take advantage of the flexibility of PEX piping to arrange the piping scheme so that fittings are out of the slab. However, if fittings must be buried in the slab, they must be approved for concrete burial. Another option is to use PEX products with an HDPE corrugated outer jacket. This jacket protects the piping from being damaged during the construction process.
   In-slab PEX piping is ideal for many applications, ranging from single-level churches and schools to high-rise multifamily buildings where pipe can be placed in the concrete slab, reducing the amount of overhead work required.

Gray-Water Applications
PEX products also are an excellent option for reclaimed water (or gray water) applications. In a gray-water system, water from sinks and showers is diverted to a holding tank where it goes through a filtering process. PEX reclaimed-water pipe distributes the filtered, reclaimed water from the holding tank to laundry, toilets and irrigation systems. For gray-water applications, reclaimed-water pipe is available in 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-in. nominal sizes. Pipe for use with reclaimed water should be listed to NSF 14 (noted by cNSFus marking on the pipe) and NSF-rw for non-potable applications.
   For more assistance with using PEX for these types of applications, use the Uponor Plumbing Design Assistance Manual (PDAM), which is available at no cost at

Daniel Worm is associate product manager for plumbing at Uponor Inc., Apple Valley, MN. He can be reached at

Code change will reduce hot water waste, save Americans time and money

iapmoPlumbing inspectors, manufacturers, engineers, contractors, labor representatives and other industry technical experts voted overwhelmingly recently to make a change to plumbing codes that will ensure hot water pipes in new homes and commercial buildings are insulated. Overall, insulation of hot water pipes will shorten the amount of time spent waiting for hot water at showers and faucets, and cut hot water waste by 15 to 30 percent.

The vote took place during the review of proposed changes to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) Uniform Plumbing Code. The proposal was championed by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The change stipulates that hot water pipes be insulated for all homes and commercial buildings built after 2015. Since more than a quarter of all hot water draws occur within an hour of each other, insulation can help water sitting in pipes retain its heat long enough for the next use.

A recent modeling study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated that more than 10 percent of all the hot water drawn for showering in a typical single-family home is not hot enough to use. Americans take more than 200 million showers a day. Using EPA estimates of the amount of water drawn while showering, about 280 million gallons of hot water is being discarded without use every day nationwide – an amount equal to all the water sold on an average day last year by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. This is water that has been heated by a water heater, drawn into a hot water pipe, and then left cooling down in the pipe to a point where it is not hot enough to use the next time hot water is needed. Too often, these hot water pipes are uninsulated, making the cool-down more rapid and more complete.

By incorporating this proposal into the next edition of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials’ model plumbing code, officials bring this change to communities in Nevada, California, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota and jurisdictions around the country that use IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code as the model for their own local codes.

Survey looks at restroom use

waterlessA May 2013 survey found that 54 percent of women, said they would use a men’s restroom if the private women’s restroom were occupied. Only 41 percent of men, however, would use a private women’s restroom if the situation were reversed.

These are two of the findings of a survey conducted by AlturaSolutions Communications, a Chicago-based marketing and communications firm, for Waterless Co., a leading manufacturer of no-water urinals. As of May 21, 2013, 106 people, mostly connected to the professional building and cleaning industries, answered all or most of the questions on the survey.

As to using a unisex restroom, where men and women share the same restroom, 64 percent of those polled said it was not an issue for them.

When asked what types of restrooms respondents would avoid using, they said:

  • Gas station restrooms, 34 percent
  • Train or bus station restrooms, 18 percent
  • Restrooms in sports centers/stadiums, 11 percent
  • Restrooms in retail stores, 2 percent
  • Airport restrooms, 2 percent
  • Movie theater restrooms, 0 percent

23 percent said they would not avoid any public restrooms anywhere, but more than 40 percent said they would avoid a busy restroom if possible.

Raising global living standards through safer sanitation

american-standardAmerican Standard, the leading toilet manufacturer in North America, has launched a campaign to increase awareness of safe sanitation practices to help protect the health of all people through well-engineered plumbing solutions. One of the ways they’re doing this is to make open latrines more sanitary. The use of open pit latrines in developing countries allows disease to spread through direct and indirect contact with human waste, resulting in upwards of 2,000 deaths per day, mainly among children.

American Standard engineers have invented SaTo (pronounced SAH-toh, derived from “Safe Toilet”), a cost-effective hygienic latrine pan that uses an ingeniously simple mechanical seal and water seal to reduce disease transmission by closing off pit latrines from the open air. The company will donate hundreds of thousands of these pans to Bangladesh in 2013, one for each of its top-rated Champion brand toilets sold in North America.

For more information, view the video below:

ASSE and ASPE agree to develop joint plumbing dictionary

ASPE-ASSEThe American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), the two global leaders serving the sanitary and plumbing engineering professions,  have agreed to work together to develop a joint plumbing dictionary. The dictionary will combine the current publications issued by each organization, bringing the plumbing community one step closer to having consistent, globally accepted terminology.

ASSE President Jim Bickford stated, “Both ASSE and ASPE have a strong focus on providing technical expertise in helping to ensure that plumbing systems are designed, installed, and maintained in a manner to ensure public health and safety. We see this joint venture with ASPE as a first step in building a stronger collaboration between both our organizations.” William F. Hughes Jr., CPD, LEED AP, FASPE, President of ASPE, notes, “ASPE is honored to join with ASSE on this important project. ASSE has had a positive impact on plumbing design and public health for over 100 years, and it is my sincere hope that ASPE, working in collaboration with ASSE on these types of projects, will further advance the entire plumbing community in providing safe and efficient plumbing systems.”

A joint committee has been formed comprising both ASSE and ASPE members, and the committee will begin its work in the very near future. It is anticipated that the finished product will be ready for release sometime in 2012.  Ronald L. George, CPD, a long-time member of both ASSE and ASPE, is the current ASSE Plumbing Dictionary editor and ASSE Nomenclature Committee chair. He will be chairing the joint ASSE/ASPE committee.

Copper Industry Launches New DIY Videos

Copper Development Assn.The “Do It Proper with Copper” video series is back with its second installment of DIY architectural and plumbing how-to videos. These short, instructional videos illustrate exactly how to use this versatile metal in plumbing, architecture and building and construction projects.

The new series covers building techniques such as: vertical lap seams, flat seams and standing seams for architectural copper systems and; bending & flaring, structural adhesives and a continuation of brazing techniques used in plumbing applications.

Each video explains which tools are needed for the application, while giving a step-by-step tutorial that is easy to understand for anyone from the average do-it-yourselfer to the seasoned professional. The videos break down the different copper methods, and make sure no small details are overlooked. For example, the standing seam video not only discusses how the seam is constructed, but also how cleats should be used to attach the sheet copper to the substrate of the roof or wall.

The Do it Proper with Copper video series is available for free download on the Copper Development Association website, and are also featured on the CDA’s YouTube channel. The CDA is the information, education, market and technical development arm of the copper, brass and bronze industries in the USA. A Resource for Sustainable, Cost-effective Design

Uponor, a supplier of plumbing, fire safety and radiant heating and cooling systems for the residential and commercial building markets, recently launched, an online resource that provides everything an engineer needs to create sustainable, cost-effective designs for radiant heating and cooling and plumbing applications. The site includes a wealth of information, including:

  • specifications,
  • submittals,
  • AutoCAD and Revit files,
  • instructional manuals,
  • videos,
  • design guidelines,
  • case studies
  • technical support, and
  • links to industry resources.

American Standard Brands Completes Refinancing, Looks Forward to New Investment

American Standard Brands recently completed a successful refinancing through a high yield debt offering of $187.5 million in aggregate principal amount concurrent with a new $60 million asset-based lending facility. According to Don Devine, president and CEO of American Standard Brands, the re-financing increases the company’s operating and financial flexibility, enhances liquidity, and enables the company to further invest in its business.

Through a series of strategic mergers commencing in 2008, the company has created a sustainable profitable business with a stable of iconic brands such as American Standard, Jado, Porcher, Crane Plumbing, Eljer, Safety Tubs and Decorative Panels International. This allows the company to provide products for both residential and commercial project solutions at many different price points.

American Standard Brands competes in markets from economy to luxury, with specialized leadership in water efficient products and products that meet the requirements of the Buy American Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Will It Flush? Check Toilet Performance Before You Buy

American Standard Toilet ChallengeTesting a toilet’s flushing power has never been easier – or more entertaining – thanks to a free iPhone app from American Standard. Users select such fiendish flushing adversaries as golf balls, kid’s clay, cat litter, chicken nuggets, hotdogs and even bananas.

The Toilet Challenge App, now available for download from the American Standard website, serves up a video demonstrating how American Standard® toilets fair against a variety of unusual materials. This app will work on the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

The Toilet Challenge is entertaining for sure, but it isn’t all just fun and games. The results of the flushing challenges are derived from actual product tests, so users who are shopping for a toilet upgrade can simulate tests and be confident that the American Standard toilet they select will perform without the need for a plunger. It is recommended that these flushing tests NOT be performed at home.

After a toilet has proven itself in battle, users can also use the app to access product specifications and find local retailers.