January/February 2017

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Publication Mail Agreement #43029513. Return postage guaranteed Marked Business Media Inc. 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ontario M9W 5C4

Residential DHW recirculation A profitable solution to an everyday problem JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017



n Progress slow on prompt payment legislation n Ont. moves hydronic trade to front burner n Harmonized U.S./Canada code sets precedent n Montreal gears up to host industry

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Q Contents

Hot Water Heating Issue Departments Hot Seat .........................................5 Everyday solutions

Industry News ..............................7 MCAC meets in Florida

People & Places ...........................48 A lifetime in wholesale

Shop Management .....................52 Truck purchasing strategies

Coming Events ............................54 MCEE returns to Montreal

Products & Technologies Hot Water Heating ......................17 Heating ........................................35

Residential DHW recirculation An expanding market for plumbing companies

Pipes, Valves & Fittings ...............37 Refrigeration ...............................39 Tools & Instruments ....................44 Trucks for the Trade ....................46

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Cover: Homeowners complain about the wait for hot water. Plumbers have a solution. Please see our article on page 17. (Photo courtesy of

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A changing world


Contractors struggle with efficiency, electronics – survey January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Hot Seat

January/February 2017 Volume 27, Number 1 ISSN 1919-0395

Publisher Mark Vreugdenhil (416) 614-5819 mark@plumbingandhvac.ca Editor Simon Blake (416) 614-5820 simon@plumbingandhvac.ca

Everyday solutions One of the great things about this industry is that it constantly comes up with new solutions for everyday problems. One of the biggest difficulties for the industry is getting the word out to home and building owners. Take hot water recirculation, for example. There is probably not one homeowner or resident that thinks waiting a minute and a half for hot water to reach the tap isn’t a problem. The plumbing industry has a solution for that. In fact it has multiple solutions to fit the homeowner’s requirements and budget. And yet very few if any homeowners are aware that anything can be done. Waiting for hot water is just something that everyone puts up with. We have to do better. And, in the case of hot water recirculation, it’s largely up to local plumbing contractors to get the word out. Tell people in your advertising: “Tired of waiting for hot water at the tap? We have a solution!” People will be interested. And that goes for so many innovative things this industry does in plumbing, air conditioning, heating, indoor air quality, water treatment, etc. Homeowners have issues. These are often issues that they deal with every day, issues that make life

uncomfortable but nothing is actually broken so they don’t call a contractor to fix it. People just put up with the reality that some rooms in their home are too hot while others are too cold. Or that the air conditioning doesn’t seem too effective in certain parts of the house – people just assume that nothing can be done, or that nothing can be done at a reasonable cost. But today, zoning with either forced air or hydronic systems is not that difficult or expensive. Our industry needs to do a much better job of educating the public about the solutions we can offer for everyday problems. When a contractor advertises its services, education should be a big part of it. If the homeowner knows there’s a solution, the sale will come.

Design and Production Tim Norton/Janet Popadiuk production@plumbingandhvac.ca Circulation Manager Dorothy Lai

PLUMBING & HVAC Magazine is published eight times annually by Marked Business Media Inc. and is written for individuals who purchase/ specify/approve the selection of plumbing, piping, hot water heating, fire protection, warm air heating, air conditioning, ventilation, refrigeration, controls and related systems and products throughout Canada.

Marked Business Media Inc. 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9W 5C4 Tel: (416) 614-2200 • Fax (416) 614-8861 POSTMASTER: Send all address changes and circulation inquiries to: Plumbing & HVAC Magazine, 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9W 5C4. Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 43029513. Postage paid at Toronto, ON. Annual Subscription Canada: $40.00 plus applicable taxes, single copy $5.00 plus applicable taxes. Annual Subscription United States: $60.00 U.S. Annual Subscription foreign: $90.00 U.S. Copyright 2017. The contents of this magazine may not be reproduced in any manner without the prior written permission of the Publisher.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. A member of: • Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating • Canadian Circulation Audit Board • Mechanical Contractors Assoc. of Canada • Ontario Plumbing Inspectors Association • American Society of Heating Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers • Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society of Canada


Canadian Business Press


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Q Industry News

MCAC meets in Florida Slow progress on prompt payment By Simon Blake About 150 people attended the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada 75th Annual National Conference held at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club in Orlando, Florida Nov. 14-17. It was a busy conference as MCAC finds itself involved in many issues such as prompt payment, changes resulting from new governments and many other things. At the same time delegates were updated on things like constantly changing technology and cyber crime with a number of expert speakers. At the annual general meeting, MCAC president Del Pawliuk (R.F. Contracting Inc.,

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) noted that real progress is being made on prompt payment legislation. “The message has gotten through, or so we believe.” At the federal level, the Canada Prompt Payment Act introduced by Senator Don Plett, who was present at the meeting, is at a crucial stage and MCAC has urged it’s members to write their local senators to voice support. Plett noted the bill has been stalled since April “because people are playing politics with it.” “Much work is needed and MCAC is committed in seeing it through to the end,” added Pawliuk. He reported progress at the provincial level too. In Ontario, the Reynold’s Report on Construction Lien Act Reform urges the introduction of prompt payment rules, something MCAC expects to see introduced

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in the Legislature by the spring. The Charbonneau Commission report in Quebec made similar recommendations. Infrastructure Alberta adjusted contracts to address prompt payment, added Pawliuk. “Unfortunately, it did not address slow payment from general contractors to sub contractors. MCAC continues to work on this.” “If we pass this federally, the provinces will follow,” noted Plett. MCAC is working on prompt payment with nine other associations through the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada. “We’ve got to keep the heat on this topic because cash flow is important,” remarked Canadian Construction Association chairman Gilbert Brulotte. The next MCAC Annual National Conference will take place in Maui, Hawaii, November 6-9, 2017. For more information, please visit www. mcac.ca.



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January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Industry News

Ont. hydronics trade back on track New legislation governing the Ontario College of Trades is expected to speed up the longawaited approval for a hydronic heating trade. On Dec. 8 the government passed Bill 70, the Building Ontario Up for Everyone Act. The omnibus bill includes significant changes to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act and has put the hydronics trade on the fast-track, reported Martin Luymes, director of programs and relations for the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI). “The College wants to see a win so that they will be able to say to the government and to the people of Ontario: ‘Look, we did a good thing. The industry came to us, had this need, and we helped them out.’” Bill 70 implements many of the recommendations of the Tony Dean review of the College of Trades and “for the most part, it seems to include elements that will be good

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for the industry,” remarked Luymes. Unions are not happy with Bill 70. Thousands of union workers protested at the Ontario Legislature Nov. 30. They believe that it will allow unqualified people to do skilled trades work.

of the people doing infloor radiant heating are not plumbers. There was a disconnect between standard practice and the regulations, which were poorly enforced and not well known.” Hot water heating has long been part of the Ontario HVAC trade because many older homes have radiator systems.

Working with industry Hydronics trade overdue HRAI and the Canadian Hydronics Council (CHC) have been working on a national training and certification program for residential hydronic heating system installers for several years, based on a 160-hour Northern Alberta Institute of Technology course. However, HRAI is concerned that reliance on this program alone might put the industry in conflict with regulators where hydronic heating is part of the plumbing and/or steamfitting trade. The other problem, particularly in Ontario, noted Luymes, is that “as many as two thirds

On Oct. 20 the College of Trades hosted a full-day workshop to explore how to define a hydronics trade. With most stakeholders represented, including union reps for the plumbing, steam-fitting and refrigeration trades, something close to consensus was reached, reported Luymes. However, questions remain as to whether it should be grafted onto an existing trade or developed as a stand-alone program. The next step is for OCOT to host a practical scoping exercise with a group of hydronic system installers and designers to define a typical residential hydronic heating installation and the required skills to install it.



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Q Industry News

Joint standard a major step towards Canada-U.S. code harmonization The first-ever joint Canada-U.S. standard for plumbing is a major step towards harmonizing codes between Canada and the U.S., reports the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). After several years of collaboration, ULC Standards, Underwriters Laboratories and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have developed a new standard for balloon type ball backwater valves.

Our ultimate goal is one standard, one test, accepted everywhere and joint CanadaU.S. standards like this are essential to meeting this goal... The standard – ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC 1201:2016 Sensor Operated Backwater Prevention Systems – is the first of its kind in the plumbing and heating sector, reports SCC, because it applies to both countries. It will provide significant savings in cost and time because manufacturers will not have to make different products for the two markets. “Our ultimate goal is one standard, one test, accepted everywhere and joint CanadaU.S. standards like this are essential to meeting this goal and improving the lives of Canadians,” remarked SCC CEO John Walter. A panel of Canada-U.S. industr y representatives, including members of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH), and several U.S. organizations, determined that standards development for sensor-operated backwater prevention systems would benefit the greatest number of Canadian and American stakeholders. “This standard is based on the needs from both the Canadian and American industry and will benefit not only the industry but also consumers. This achievement also supports North American alignment of the standards development process, paving the way for future collaboration. Making the standards development process easier and more cost


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effective will benefit all stakeholders,” said Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of CIPH. CIPH and the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) have been pushing governments to harmonize standards, not just between countries, but also between provinces and municipalities as a patchwork of regulations is adding considerably both to the cost of

manufacturing and the cost to the end user. Balloon-type ball backwater valves prevent sewer backup. When the unit’s sensor detects a problem, a balloon inflates to seal the drain. They can be installed in existing sanitary waste piping without excavating a home’s concrete floor. The new standard can be downloaded at no charge from www.canada.ul.com/ulcstandards.




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Q Emerging Trends


is our




High efficiency and electronics an ongoing challenge, say readers By Bruce Nagy


Refrigeration systems that use CO2 will become more common. When we think about the future we might imagine the Hollywood version: living with robots, trying to grow food on Mars, or wandering the Earth, blowing away vampires in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Modern popculture doesn’t really cover what plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration might look like in five, 10, or 20 years. To start the New Year by talking about a new world, we decided to consult with our readers. You responded to our five-question survey with a lot of thoughtful comments about the past, present and future. We kept the questionnaire short to ensure we received enough responses and because we know you have better things to do. We also conducted

Plumbing & HVAC – January/February 2017

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phone interviews with some people. While the technology check-off questions yielded interesting data (see charts), the answers to open-ended questions were equally telling. When talking about plumbing 28 percent of comments mentioned plastic pipe or press-fit systems. When discussing refrigeration 43 percent mentioned new refrigerants. Under HVAC, 23 percent spoke of energy efficiency and 28 percent touched on sophisticated controls and technology. While these might seem predictable, they give us confidence that we heard from industry people who know what’s going on. They also seem consistent with revenue patterns and market projections for heat pumps, hydronics, natural gas, mini-splits, variable speed equipment, retrofits, biomass, geothermal and a drop-off in oil heating.

Expertise You told us that in all three sectors – plumbing, HVAC, and refrigeration – change is driven by efficiency and electronics and expertise is a big challenge. With the speed of change ramping up and a proliferation of products, brands, technologies, refrigerants and new kinds of competitors; there is a lot of training needed, not enough qualified help, and not enough apprentices. “Years ago we just connected a couple wires. Now everything is Wi-Fi enabled. You have to set it up on the thermostat and


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help the customer download apps onto their phone,” remarked Marvin Wilson of 7 North Plumbing & Heating in Kaladar, Ont. “You’re expected to know more.”

Plumbing Efficiency is still the key topic in plumbing, with many new wall hung or special water heaters and drain heat recovery all growing; but it seems like in most regions, low flow toilets, showers and faucets are so prevalent they’re now old news. “Low-flow is almost standard now,” says Mark Baxandale, a plumbing & HVAC consultant working all over the country, out of Cambridge, Ontario. “And we’re seeing more drain-water energy recovery too.” As mentioned, the most popular topic under plumbing was better tools and new

piping materials that make installation faster and easier. Most respondents said they’re using more plastics and press fit systems. Some said plastics are not used for hot water. One said because plastics are less expensive, they make money on labour, not materials, and now they need more jobs to maintain revenue. Some said this got worse when hundreds of plumbing appliances became available through big box stores at low prices. Doit-yourself consumers are more educated through Internet research and home improvement television shows. A few celebrated the models, colours and modern products now available. As you can see from the charts, energysaving devices like variable speed drives for pumps, rainwater and grey water systems are expected to grow in the future. They

Just about every building includes mechanical ventilation. might represent new revenue opportunities for plumbers. Just learn about them and promote them.

Heating and cooling While most of you said hydronic heating will continue to grow, apparently such systems are less often connected to gas or oil boilers. Stephen Cambria, a boiler salesman for Gas Solutions in Kitchener, Ont., noted that VRF heat pumps have already established a healthy market share in high rises. Heat pumps seem to be doing well in detached homes too. Although many expect natural gas and forced air to continue to grow, the survey suggests reduced confidence for these technologies going forward. Many of you think related technologies like geothermal and radiant will grow, presumably by continuing to reduce cost. HRVs and ERVs have been successful (and in many cases are required by code). In an age when efficiency is a top concern, an HRV seems to be a standard element in every modern mechanical system. Better thermal envelopes help. “Homes are tighter now. In my father’s day everything was 120,000 BTUs,” Please see ‘Increasing’ on page 15


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January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Emerging Trends

Increasing regulation and enforcement builders trying to meet energy targets and avoid carbon penalties. The elephant in the room with HVAC trends is solar. Our readers are not electricians, so we did not include solar photovoltaic (PV) in our questionnaire. Some people checked off solar thermal instead. “We didn’t realize 20 years ago that 90 percent of our tools would become cordless. It was a game-changer,” says Wilson. “I think if lithium batteries continue to drop in price, solar panels and storage and electric HVAC could become game-changers.”


Continued from page 13

says Wilson. “Now you spend a lot more time with sizing and modulating. You can get away with 60,000 or 30,000 and they’re running all day on an ECM. It saves energy and it’s easier on the equipment.”

Electronics changes everything After efficiency, the most mentioned theme in HVAC is electronics. One contractor said: “Electronics has changed everything, from the thermostat to how the motherboard communicates.” Others said: “The constant striving for efficiency has introduced a vast selection of...equipment designs, which has


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added to complexity…For service, you need someone who understands electronics… Controls are smarter, but home/building owners are finding controls more difficult.” This last comment is interesting in that it might define today’s HVAC technician in part as an expert interpreter who can help make sophisticated HVAC systems less intimidating. The requirement for more expertise relates to another key industry theme: “A lot more regulation…more technology and laws… strict codes…more control at the municipal level. The building code is being enforced.” It appears lax enforcement leads to liability, and is no longer acceptable to governments and

Everyone seemed to mention new refrigerants. A few complained about uncertainty and flammability, but most apparently accept it as a big change they’re working through. “The United States are going with a lot more CO2 systems,” said Xavier Marle, director of operations, Systemes LMP Inc. of Montreal, a world leader in supermarket refrigeration. “CO2 is going to remain affordable and it’s readily available. It’s the future.” Respondents also talked about a “flood of mini-splits on the market” and other ref r igerant-bas ed HVAC equipment becoming smaller, more electronic and complex, but easier to service. One person mentioned that as VRF products become more economical, their popularity is exploding. A trend toward waste energy recapture from refrigeration equipment was discussed during phone interviews, but left out of the questionnaire. Our favourite comment was: “Not sure what the future will hold, but there will always be a need for a good quality plumbing (or heating or refrigeration) contractor.” Indeed, but only if we keep up with the times. Bruce Nagy is a Torontobased freelance writer that reports on green technologies and solutions. He can be reached at bruce.nagy@rogers.com.

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Hot Water Heating At this flow rate, it could be a while before the hot water shows up!


RESIDENTIAL DHW New technologies offer sales opportunity for plumbing contractors By Simon Blake Waiting for hot water can be a royal pain for homeowners, not to mention wasteful of water. New products released in the past few years have made it easy for the plumber to solve the problem, but most homeowners don’t know there is a solution. “We think it’s a huge opportunity,” remarked Simon Feddema, president of Grundfos Canada. “We think it could double


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the number of circulators sold in North America.” Domestic hot water (DHW) recirculation systems have evolved to the point where they can, in some cases, be installed in less than an hour. There are now a number of different systems that can offer instant – or almost instant – hot water at the tap. As well, new pump and control technology has changed the way some of these systems function, providing the plumber with new solutions to offer their customers.

It’s all about comfort In Canada, water is plentiful and relatively inexpensive, so for all but the most ‘green’ homeowners, the key reason for installing a

DHW recirculation system is comfort. “It’s about having hot water delivered quicker to your faucets. It’s not going to save you money,” remarked Sean Giberson, Canadian sales manager, wholesale products, for Taco Canada, Milton, Ont. The problem has been that while water is inexpensive the energy to heat it – electricity, gas, propane or oil – is not. In fact recirculation systems can be energy pigs, especially those that recirculate continuously. A traditional system keeps the water in the pipes hot around the clock, using energy both to heat the water and run the pump. However, new recirculation and pump technologies have gone a long way to reducing operating costs. The typical residential DHW recirculation system would be one of the following: A dedicated loop system typically has a pump located near the water heater on the return line. At each fixture, a short pipe connects the loop to the hot water tap. The Please see ‘Keep’ on page 19

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Q Hot Water Heating

Keep it simple! Continued from page 17

hot water circulates continuously and it takes only a split second for the hot water to reach the tap. The energy costs are high, but adding a manual switch, a timer, an aquastat and/or a learning /‘smart’ pump can improve the efficiency substantially while still providing a high level of comfort. A variation on this is the integrated loop system in which a control recirculates hot water intermittently when the water temperature drops below a setpoint.

On-demand systems Another way to do DHW recirculation is with an on-demand control system. The simplest system involves installing a switch in the bathroom so the user can turn on the pump before they step into the shower. Steffen Werner, director of marketing/ Western sales for Wilo Canada, Calgary, remembers a recirculating DHW system in his previous home in Germany. “You turn it on, you get in the shower. You get out of the shower, you turn it off.” Today, a motion sensor can perform the same function. The button or sensor triggers the pump, which returns sitting water to the DHW heater via the cold water line, replacing it with hot water. “It’s a much higher head and higher flow that will see hot water at that faucet in 15-20 seconds,” noted Giberson. It’s not instant, but it’s a lot better than the typical 90 seconds.

Timer systems Installing a timer in the system can cut energy use considerably. The timer is set to provide hot water when the family requires it the most. Adding an aquastat that acts as a temperature sensor will make it even more efficient because the pump won’t run if the water is already up to temperature. Using a variable speed pump with a timer also makes a lot of sense because it can adjust flow according to demand, added Peter Sraum, technical applications specialist for Wilo Canada. The pump adjusts flow as


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DHW recirculation is a worthwhile service to list on the company truck. required. “When you have that option with a timer, I think that’s unbeatable.” If some of these things sound complicated, they’re not. Today’s equipment is “plug and play.” In a timer system, for example, the pump plugs into the timer, which is plugged into a wall outlet.

Smart pumps There’s a new level of control possible with a smart pump, which most of the manufacturers now offer. Grundfos recently updated its Comfort PM recirculation system with the company’s AutoAdapt smart technology, for example. This system analyzes water use patterns in the home and adjusts the hot water supply accordingly. If the occupants use a lot of hot

Smart pumps offer both comfort and efficiency.

water first thing in the morning and then the house is vacant most of the day, the control will learn to start the recirculating system early in the morning, leave it off most of the day, and then bring the water up to temperature again just before the occupants return home. It’s a good solution for customers that just want the best system and aren’t that concerned about cost, or the customer that wants the greenest system possible. And manufacturers are beginning to offer equipment that can add this ‘smart’ technology to existing circulators.

A simpler solution At the other end of the spectrum, one way to do hot water recirculation is with a crossover valve under the farthest faucet from the hot water heater. Most manufacturers have them, although the technologies differ from one manufacturer to the next. The Taco technology, for example, uses a bi-metallic disk in the crossover valve that closes it based on a 30-degree temperature rise. The pump is installed at the tank. If the water sitting in the line overnight is at 70F, the system is open and when the circulator Please see ‘Municipalities on page 21

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Hot Water Heating A pump with a crossover valve is simple and effective.

for example, opens, it only allows a quarter gpm of water through. That’s not enough to trigger the gas valve in an instantaneous DHW heater, reported Giberson. “We’ve got to make sure we can overcome the pressure drop across the heat exchanger and turn that gas valve on.” However, there are work-arounds. A larger pump may be required. A small buffer tank will provide additional water volume. Most pump and DHW heater manufacturers have solutions and can offer advice and piping diagrams.

Even in a retrofit, today’s DHW recirculation systems are easy to install.

Municipalities like the water savings Continued from page 19

reaches a programmed run time it rotates the cold water back to the tank and brings warm water to the faucet. When the water reaches 100F, the valve snaps shut and the user has hot water at the tap. Often the question is raised about having hot water in the cold line. Typically, only about two cups of warm water exists there, which is purged immediately upon operation of the cold tap, noted Giberson. And while the standard installation is to install one crossover valve for the entire house, which will improve response time at all faucets, if the customer wants even quicker response time, a crossover valve can be installed at each faucet. That’s money in the plumber’s pocket!

Water savings

“If you’re trying to move a gallon a minute through a tankless unit, then you are looking at 10 to 15 feet of head or more depending on the length and size of the recirculation line. All of a sudden the pump that you have mounted is not good anymore, so you have to go with a bigger pump.

The problem has been that while water is inexpensive the energy to heat it – electricity, gas, propane or oil – is not.

Storage versus tankless So far, the systems we’ve talked about are for storage tank systems. Sraum has been asked to troubleshoot a number of DHW recirculation systems over the years and many of the problems have involved tankless water heaters.


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 21

“In many of these cases when the first plumber leaves the smaller pump, really, it does nothing,” he added, noting that most tankless units need a minimum of 0.5 gpm to turn on. When the disk in the Taco crossover valve,

Municipalities like DHW recirculation because it saves water, reducing the load on water treatment infrastructure. The average household typically wastes about 12,000 gallons (45,425 litres) of water per year running the tap until the water gets hot. Multiply that by the number of houses in the municipality and the amount of water wasted is substantial. Comfort aside, it may be only a matter of time until municipalities require DHW recirculation systems in new construction. One way or another, it’s going to be a growing part of the plumber’s business. “The plumber needs to know there is an option. A lot of them, when they went to school, learned that you either have a dedicated recirculation line or you don’t get recirculation. They need to understand that they can do recirculation without taking a house apart,” said Giberson. If contractors advertise recirculation systems to the public – most of whom have no idea such technology is available – it becomes a really nice “valley filler” during slow periods, he added. “I think if the plumbers embrace it there’s one heck of a business for them!”

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Hot Water Heating

E X T R E M E H Y D R O N I C S , PA R T I

Safe operation through the sometimes dangerous juxtaposition of fire and ice

g n i t l e m

By Roy Collver It seems as if many technicians are losing their ability to diagnose system problems because we are living in a “bullet point” world where learning is task oriented and there isn’t time to foster a deeper understanding of basics. Hands-on experience normally helps, but it can be hard to get sufficient exposure to snow and ice melting systems (SIMs). I last discussed snow melting in 2010. The technology was well matured and more manufacturers were providing components and expertise to help get these systems properly designed and installed. Revisiting modern systems now presents an opportunity to update you all and, also, dig deeper into the fundamentals.

A snow melting system keeps this hospital parking garage ramp in Calgary free of snow.

A growing business Snow melting systems will continue to gain popularity for a number of reasons and are going to provide increasing business for snowmelt system engineers, mechanical contractors and suppliers: • They provide a high level of safety – reducing liability for building owners • They are increasingly reliable – they come on, get the job done, repeat • They are relatively inexpensive to operate. If you have a natural gas fuel supply, you have Please see ‘Taming’ on page 24


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On the same day, this parking garage ramp does not have a snowmelt system and is slick with snow.

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Hot Water Heating

Taming the energy sucking beast and operation of snowmelt systems. I urge you to go to their web sites. Here is just a partial list of a few of the things you should research.

Continued from page 23

actually seen the operating cost of these systems decline over the last decade. If your customer is currently melting snow with electric cables, you will certainly be looking at retrofit options as the price of electricity continues to shoot for the moon (especially when subject to peak load billing).

One difficulty many people have in understanding the dynamics of snow melting is that they don’t realize how the load changes through a melting “event” from start to finish.

Fire and ice Snowmelt systems can be classified as “extreme” hydronics because of the potentially dangerous juxtaposition of fire and ice. Boiler fluid temperatures can be as high as 220°F while fluid temperatures returning from the slab can be well below freezing. This makes many hydronicians queasy, one reason why modern controls became pivotal. Proper control methods and protocol help ensure that systems are buffered from temperature extremes. When you understand the fluid flow and heat transfer dynamics of these systems, you can further optimize system design to eliminate many concerns – relying less on control “cushioning”. Control and radiant tubing manufacturers offer considerable information on the design

The required Btu/h per square foot delivery to a snowmelt slab surface and the time required to get things melting depends on: • The pick-up load: How cold the slab is plus how much mass it has determines how much energy is needed to raise the surface above freezing to change the snow or ice from a solid to a liquid. • How fast you want to get rid of the water. Does it drain away, or are you trying to make it evaporate? • The amount/rate/type of snowfall encountered. Wet heavy snow has more water per inch that the fluffy stuff.

200,000 Btuh delivered via the INJECTION MIXING PUMP 200,000 Btuh produced by the BOILER


80°F in

200,000 Btuh used by the SIM SLAB

160°F 60°F

140°F in

10 gpm @ 20° T 60°F out



Plumbing & HVAC – January/February 2017

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Hydronics is all about transferring heat into a water-based fluid, moving that fluid to a device (tubing layout) that will then transfer that heat to a “load” (the surface of the slab where the snow or ice is), and then return the fluid (less the heat) back to be re-heated. System design factors include: • The maximum boiler or heat exchanger output required • The maximum fluid flow required to deliver the energy • Tubing layout and slab design • What mechanical components are needed and how to control them

Changing load

4 gpm @ 100° T

160°F out

10 gpm @ 20° T

• The ambient air temperature, wind speed and humidity during the melting event. You need to keep it above freezing. Extremes can re-freeze a wet slab.

One difficulty many people have in understanding the dynamics of snow melting is that they don’t realize how the load changes through a melting “event” from start to finish. Let’s take you through it step-by-step: • Something triggers a melting event – either an automatic snow/ice sensor or an operator switches on the system. • The required slab temperature is determined and the boiler and circulators are turned on. • Heat is generated by the boiler and transferred through the heat exchanger into the water/glycol mix, where things get really interesting. Please see ‘Calculating’ on page 27


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Hot Water Heating

Calculating the load Continued from page 24

you can feel the pipes and watch things “go”.

At this point, the slab is the load – an energy-sucking monster. Before we even start to melt snow (our intended load), we have to heat up the core of the slab, and we have to be gentle. If we have a big lump of hot water in a high temperature/high mass boiler – we have to ration it out slowly. We are trying to establish a balance between the boiler output and the slab’s ability to absorb energy. If we get it wrong, they can beat each other up. This is a big subject and I will spend most of the next issue discussing controls and cool gizmos we have at our disposal these days. The classic way to be gentle with a slab and boiler is to use mixing of some sort and put a saddle on them both. This is where I wish I could take you all into a boiler room right now so

Magic in the mixing We want to have a controlled Delta-T from the supply manifold going into the slab back to the return manifold – the smaller the better, which means high flow. If the fluid going into the slab has been mixed down to 60°F and is coming out at 40°F (20°F Delta-T) and it is flowing at 10 GPM, we are delivering 200,000 Btu/h of heat energy. If the boiler only has an output of 200,000 Btu/h – we are exactly where we want to be at that point in the heat-up. The boiler will also be operating at a 20°F Delta-T – but at higher temperatures (like 160°F out, 140°F return, or 180/160, it doesn’t really matter). The magic is in the mixing system. It’s like a referee in a boxing ring, holding the fighters

apart when things get out of control. When a cold snowmelt system first starts, many spectators get jumpy – they think things should be happening faster. RELAX – observe. The boiler can’t work any harder. Things are going as fast as they can go. When the slab return water goes to 41°F, you can tweak the supply water up to 61°F then 42°/62° and up you go. As the slab core heats up, the load will start to drop off – but when the slab surface starts melting the stuff on top of it, you may have to pull back on the reins yet again as the load increases. This is a very dynamic process – take the time to watch it some time. That’s how you learn. Roy Collver is an author and consultant on hydronic heating based in Qualicum Beach, B.C. He can be reached at hoth2o@shaw.ca


Water heaters built by Canadians for Canadians! www.plumbingandhvac.ca

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January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Viega ProPress®

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When you choose Viega ProPress fittings for your next repair or installation, you’ll save time and money. With system-matched tools and jaws, no calibration is required and connections are made in seconds. Viega ProPress is the smart choice to keep your next job on or ahead of schedule. Trust the original copper press joining solution. • Press connections can be made wet or dry • Secure press connections made in seconds • Equipped with the Smart Connect® feature for easy identification of unpressed fittings • More than 1,000 press fittings available in sizes from ½" to 4"

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P L U M B I N G ,






2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Hot Water Heating


N O I S O R COR R E T S N O M Preventative maintenance in the boiler room By Art Irwin


very commercial/institutional boiler manufacturer in North America will attest to the fact that from Labour Day until November they are often deluged with a rush of orders for new boilers. Why not June, July or August? The answer is simple, boilers are turned off in the summer and forgotten. But come Labour Day, somebody pulls the switch and the problems begin! It’s on that weekend that we start to think about winter and those cold blustery days. Within a few days the boilers are fired to ensure all is well, but unfortunately it is often not. It’s that pesky villain we call corrosion that silently dissolves those hidden internal surfaces. Leaking hand hole gaskets, leaking boiler tubes, crown sheet failures, accelerated corrosion, etc. are the dreaded disease of steel boilers, especially when there is no preventative maintenance during the Please see ‘Poorly’ on page 31


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The key to long life in any boiler is to follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance instructions – to the letter!

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Hot Water Heating

Poorly understood Continued from page 29

previous heating season or no proper shutdown procedure.

General maintenance Every time a leak in a valve stem, pump seal or boiler gasket is seen , the problem should be addressed immediately. Small leaks can eventually cause wire drawing of the sealing surfaces and eventually cause greater problems. Government regulators specify when boilers will be inspected. Insurers also have inspection requirements. Schedule the shutdown and cleaning to coincide with the inspection. Allow the boiler to cool slowly and follow the manufacturers instructions. If a boiler is taken out of service for an extended period, protection against corrosion can be taken by the “wet” or “dry” method, as follows:

of equipment and, in school installations, it is the most expensive piece of equipment in the building. These problems are common in low-pressure steam applications where steam pressures are below 15 psi and water pressures below 30 psi. In the majority of cases, the cause can be traced to improper care and very rarely, it is a manufacturers defect. Most owners are not aware of the corrosion process and how it can

uniform over a large area. The level of acidity or alkalinity of the water determines the concentration of pitting. These levels are measured in pH values indicating hydrogen ion concentration. A strong muriatic or sulphuric acid solution is rated as 1 and a strong alkaline (concentrated caustic soda) may produce a pH reading of 14. Neutral water has a pH of 7. If the pH is below 5, the acid content is strong enough to dissolve steel. The corrosion can be uniform without pitting and the steel gets thinner and cannot

Dry Method • Make any necessary repairs. • Dry clean both water and fire sides thoroughly. • Dry out completely – use trays of moisture absorbing materials and replace regularly. • Close dampers, handhold doors and any openings.

Wet Method • Clean internally and externally. • Fill and bring to boiling point to eliminate oxygen. • Add prescribed chemical quantity. • Check chemical levels on a regular basis. One other important thing is to check cast iron sections and ensure there is space for movement. Tie rods should not be too tight and compression nuts need to be adjusted to prevent excessive tension.

This horizontal tube Matheson boiler has been providing reliable service in a 41-unit Halifax apartment building since 1962. Maintenance pays! ruin the heating boiler nor are they aware of the preventative and corrective measures to put in place. The majority of boiler tube failures are caused by oxygen attack or water-side corrosion. Steel does not corrode in alkaline, oxygen free water.

Eliminating the air Boiler corrosion Boiler corrosion is rarely understood, so I will place considerable emphasis on the subject. The boiler is a very expensive piece


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 31

Tube corrosion takes place in varying degrees of penetration because of a number of conditions. We often see pitting in just a few areas and in other examples, the pits are

be detected visually. If the pH is between 5 and 9.4, the rate of pitting will depend on the concentration of oxygen in the water. This is why it is important to eliminate air in the boiler water. Cold water retains more air than warm water. In a new boiler, or one that has been drained and refilled, air bubbles form on the tubes as the water gets warmer and in a short time, pits develop under the bubbles because of the difference in oxygen concentration in the water Please see ‘Low’ on page 33

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM












Enjoy a new level of excellence with hydronic heating and one appliance to meet both domestic hot water and space heating needs. The CB Combination (Combi) Boiler from Noritz utilizes KLJK HɝFLHQF\ FRQGHQVLQJ WHFKQRORJ\ WR GHOLYHU KRW ZDWHU WR ERWK SOXPELQJ DQG K\GURQLF KHDWLQJ applications for homes of all sizes.


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Hot Water Heating

Low temperature woes

Chemical treatment

Continued from page 31

Different materials surrounding the bubbles. Corrosion penetration of as much as 50 percent has been known to take place in stagnant boiler water in just two weeks.

Preventative measures To prevent corrosion from air bubbles, every time a boiler is filled with new water, the boiler should be heated and the temperature brought up to 180 - 200 degrees F. A few boiler owners completely drain their hot water boilers annually thinking the water is dirty. Each time new water is introduced, so is additional oxygen. Two ounces of caustic soda per 100 gallons of boiler water will produce a pH of 11 to 11.5. Some use a lower concentrate of 1.3 ounces per 100 gallons. If pitting has already started, the chemical will be ineffective. With new boilers or re- tubed boilers, a boil-out with caustic cleaning compound is recommended.

It is of the utmost importance that sales people, the installer and the owner are brought up to speed in instances where the boiler is constructed of different materials such as aluminum as the pH content of the water is completely different and could destroy the boiler if not correct. Many boiler manufacturers today display large warning labels stating the boiler warranty will be void if the boiler is permitted to operate below a specific temperature. I know of one boiler manufacturer that had so many boiler failures because the installers ignored the instructions, they took that specific model out of production. The installers kept blaming the product, which was not at fault. (Sounds like a Donald Trump cop-out.)

Whenever a new boiler is purchased, the installer or owner should always contact two or three companies that specialize in boiler water treatment chemicals. These companies will test the water and make recommendations regarding what chemicals and quantities should be used. Be sure to purchase an automatic chemical feeder that will eliminate the human element. I can remember years ago when I was in the boiler sales business, I was called out to examine a four-year-old leaking boiler. Low and behold, sitting behind the boiler was a chemical feeder, still in the crate that had never been installed! Arthur A. Irwin operates Irwin Energy Consulting Services in Halifax. He can be reached at irwin.a@ns.sympatico.ca.


Another type of corrosion Dew- point corrosion is another costly problem that takes place on the inside or fire-side of the tubes. This problem is more common during summer shutdown or in cases where the boiler is operating with a low water temperature setting. During the summer, high humidity provides the conditions for the formation of acid in the tubes. In radiant hot water systems, the boiler temperatures are low and in greenhouses or chicken breeding barns, the water temperature is kept in the 120 to 140ºF range. Systems using indoor/outdoor reset controllers allow the water temperatures to drop drastically, allowing moisture to form in the inside of the tubes, often corroding at a fast rate. For these applications, a three-way mixing valve or similar means of low water protection should be used. The boiler can operate at a higher temperature and the water temperature in the temperature emitting system can be kept at a low temperature. Boilers should be cleaned as soon as they are taken out of service for the summer or for long periods. Brush, flush and dry out the inside of the tubes on a regular basis.


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 33

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January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Heating Remote access

Hard water scaling prevention

The NaviLink system is designed to support remote access for all Navien tankless water heaters (NPE series), combiboilers (NCB-E series) and gas condensing boilers (NHB series) through the new NaviLink Wi-Fi control and mobile App. This allows smart phone and tablet owners to control temperatures remotely, access usage data, receive diagnostic notifications and remotely activate recirculation when paired with the company’s HotButton accessory. Navien www.navien.com

A new passive back flow device from QSBRI Inc. is designed to prevent hard water scaling on heat exchanger surfaces used in DHW appliances, without the need for chemicals. It can be added to any water heating appliance that utilizes an indirect heat source with a heat exchanger/condenser. OSBRI Inc. www.passivebackflow.com

Efficient combination boiler

Smart electric heat thermostats

The new AquaBalance combination boiler from Weil-McLain combines high-efficiency space heating and on-demand domestic hot water in a reliable, space-saving, easy-to-install package. With a capacity of 155,000 Btu/h input, it produces a constant supply of hot water with up to four GPM at 70ºF temperature rise. On the space heating side, it achieves 94.4 percent AFUE energy efficiency with a stainless steel, titanium-infused heat exchanger. It is Energy Star rated and will heat up to a 2,500 sq. ft. home. Weil McLain www.weil-mclain.com

Montreal-based Stelpro has teamed up with three Internet of Things (IoT) partners to develop Maestro Smart Thermostats for electric heat that enable users to easily customize their home comfort while reducing heating expenses. California-based Ayla Networks supports cloud service connectivity, Montreal-based Mirego developed the mobile application and user interface, while mnubo, also from Montreal, will look after the data analytic and strategic insight components. The Maestro thermostat can easily configure customized activities and group heating devices together to seamlessly adapt room temperatures to lifestyles and schedules. It can replace any existing line-voltage thermostat installation and its communication protocol is compatible with other smart home solutions. Stelpro www.stelpro.com

Tankless DHW award winner The U.S.-based Consumer Technology Association has honored Bosch with a 2017 Innovation Award for its Greentherm 9900i SER, the premium models in the company’s Greentherm 9000 Series. The 9900i SER model features integrated Wi-Fi controls. All 9000 model feature top-mounted water connections, allowing for fast replacement of tank-type water heaters. Bosch www.boschheatingandcooling.com


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 35

Pro Kontrol expands Atlantic offering Pro Kontrol has been appointed by Johnson Controls to distribute the Facility Explorer line of digital controls in the Atlantic Provinces (including Nfld.) and will promote it from the company’s Dartmouth, N.S. location. This building automation system is a premier, scalable digital control system composed of multi‐protocol, web‐based supervisory controllers as well as programmable controllers with or without integrated LCD display, room sensors with available motion detection, complete wireless solutions, and a full suite of communicating thermostats. Pro Kontrol www.prokontrol.com

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM


energy saving potential in today’s buildings and industrial processes

is realizing a more energy efficient city infrastructure Canadian infrastructure investments are on the rise, and with ambitious climate and energy targets in place, Danfoss has been helping make Canadian cities more efficient and sustainable for 65 years. Heating and cooling consume as much as 40 percent of a building’s total energy use. Danfoss solutions like AC drives, variable speed compressors and hydronic control valves help cut energy consumption and improve comfort and control. City-wide, Danfoss’ innovative district heating solutions amplify efficiencies — cost-effectively boosting energy productivity, minimizing environmental impacts and helping cities plan for a sustainable future. With Danfoss, our cities can get more out of less without sacrificing performance or reliability. Discover how we’re Engineering Tomorrow at danfoss.ca

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Pipes, Valves and Fittings Reducers and unions Viega has introduced 12 new reducer and union options for the company’s MegaPress and MegaPressG systems for carbon steel piping systems, schedule five to 40, in sizes 1/2 to two-inches. It uses modern cold press connections for pipe installation and is ideal for hydronic heat, chilled water, compressed air, fire sprinkler systems, low-pressure steam and vacuum lines. MegaPressG fittings are designed for use in fuel oil and natural gas applications. Viega www.viega.us

Pre-adjustable pressure reducing valves The 535H Series pre-adjustable pressure reducing valves from Caleffi feature a dial indicator that shows direct psi setting. An optional pressure gauge is available for downstream pressure indication. The 535H also features a unique noise reducing, low-friction, pressure-balanced and replaceable cartridge for control stability. A high temperature rating of 180°F and high pressure rating of 300 psi also makes it ideal for hot water booster systems. The self-contained cartridge is removable for easy inspection, cleaning and maintenance. Caleffi www.caleffi.us

Firestop solution Holdrite HydroFlame Pro Series is a labtested and UL listed cast-in-place firestop solution that features an interlocking telescoping sleeve, eliminating the need to measure and cut sleeves on most jobsites. Locator whiskers help installers find buried sleeves after the concrete pour. A threaded OHSA rated safety cap allows for easy, nondestructive removal. Holdrite www.holdrite.com

PEX transition fittings Uponor is now offering code-listed, commercialgrade, ProPEX brass transition fittings in sizes from ½” to 2”. The complete offering, which is manufactured from high-quality C36000 brass, includes 31 transition fittings that convert ProPEX connections to male thread, female thread, copper tubing sweat, copper fitting sweat and copper fitting press. Note that because these are C36000 brass fittings, they are not for potable (lead-free) applications. Uponor www.uponor.ca

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January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM


Air Heat Supplies Mississauga-Toronto-Scarborough-London-Ottawa Toll Free: 1-800-361-4652 Head Office: 905-602-9120 www.airheat.ca

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Refrigeration

New technologies challenge traditional halocarbon rack By Greg Scrivener

D Supermarket

refrigeration strategies

eciding what to do in a new supermarket installation is getting a bit more challenging these days. Different options are coming available that challenge the traditional halocarbon rack style installation. This article will look through a few of the different technologies and some of the options that are showing up on the market. The typical R404a and R507 racks are still front and center in Canadian supermarket installations, but with the phase-out of these refrigerants in the U.S. and Europe they are quickly being supplanted. There are some new refrigerants, like 407a and 442a, that operate with similar efficiencies and have significantly lower global warming potential (GWP). Obviously, a typical rack system using these refrigerants is not that much different than one designed for R507 and R404a and they are becoming common.

Bigger role for natural refrigerants Supermarket refrigeration technology is changing rapidly with new practices, refrigerants and controls.

Natural refrigerants are playing a bigger role in this market than they’ve ever played before. In Canada, CO2 is gaining significant adoption. CO2 can be used in two main ways – transcritical or subcritical. Transcritical systems Please see ‘New’ on page 41


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 39

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Our new 3D i-see Sensor gives you

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PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 40


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Refrigeration

New installation practices Continued from page 39

operate using CO2 as their only refrigerant, which means (if you remember that the critical point for CO2 is at 88°F) that they have to operate in the supercritical region as of their phase diagram. Transcritical CO2 systems routinely operate with discharge pressures in the 1400 psi range. These higher pressures have been a challenge for valve and component manufacturers but, in general, there seems to be sufficient components available now. Transcritical systems can be designed to be very efficient in winter operation when doing heat reclaim; they really shine when applied this way. Unfortunately, in the summer at higher ambient temperatures, the units use a lot more energy than a conventional rack.

Cascade systems If the higher pressure or the high ambient operating energy are issues, CO2 can be used in a cascade arrangement with another refrigeration system providing a condensing temperature that also keeps the CO2 subcritical. In warmer climates, these types

Natural refrigerants are playing a bigger role in this market than they’ve ever played before.

of systems are used more frequently because of obvious energy considerations and less demand for the increase in heat reclaim available from a transcritical system. There have even been four or five store systems installed in the U.S. that use


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 41

A group of liquid solenoids and suction valves for a low temperature rack. ammonia-CO2 cascade systems installed in order to be able to use 100 percent natural refrigerants. This was most recently done at a Piggly Wiggly’s in Georgia. While ammonia is certainly the most efficient, R407a and other halocarbons have also been used for the high side of the cascade. There are a number of different variations on how the CO2 system is designed, but it can involve both liquid pumps and vapour compressors for different temperature levels of the rack. In order to decrease the refrigerant charge and service requirements at the case, the use of glycol as a secondary fluid has been around for a while in supermarkets, but there will likely be more of these types of systems for those who don’t want to use CO2.

the long piping runs can become undesirable and so distributed systems are sometimes used. This involves putting a number of smaller systems strategically located throughout the store. These systems can reduce piping costs but they aren’t always able to achieve the same energy performance, particularly if the load diversity on one isn’t designed well. Having to have a low temperature section of a distributed system for one two-door reach is not really different than having an individual compressor for it, which defeats the intent of having parallel compressors in the first place. In order to re duce refrigerant charge, some stores have even reverted to having all cases self-contained. From a service perspective, I can’t imagine that this would lead to long-term savings, but it is possible.

Flammable refrigerants

New installation practices

There is one very interesting application of selfcontained systems to look at; this is the case of self-contained cases that use hydrocarbons as the refrigerant. A3 flammable refrigerants can be used if the individual systems have charges below 150g. There has been at least one installation of this type in the U.S., but I’m not aware of any in Canada. What other options do we have to look forward to? As the industry continues to drive to the ultimate goal of minimizing the GWP of the fluids we use, I expect this will continue to drive change in this market as well. The new A2L refrigerants that are coming online are a ways away from being used in a fieldbuilt application like a supermarket, but they will undoubtedly end up in self-contained equipment in the relatively near future.

There is also the issue of how to install the systems. With stores getting bigger,

Please see ‘Beyond’ on page 43

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

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PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 42

2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Refrigeration

Beyond the refrigerants Continued from page 41

I would say that the probability is high that they end up in large rack type systems as well. For those of you not familiar with the changes happening throughout the world in regards to flammable refrigerants, there are currently two ASHRAE change proposals in the review process that would allow A2L refrigerants for human comfort and in machine rooms (the 2L is a relatively new flammability classification that we’ve discussed before; it means essentially a low flammability refrigerant). There are other addenda in progress to cover other applications and I would expect that eventually these changes will propagate in at least some form into Canadian regulations. The changes will also come through the fact that UL and other listing agencies are in the process of updating and amending listing standards to include 2L refrigerants.

cost might have been for nothing. There are examples of this everywhere. I think you have about a 50/50 chance of walking up to a heat reclaim system in a supermarket and finding it working correctly. Refrigeration in general is poised to undergo some shifts over the next decade. Energy concerns in Canada don’t seam to contribute too much to the demand, but the

environmental aspects of refrigerant leaks do. I wasn’t able to find any reliable data from Canada, but as near as I can tell the average leak rate of commercial refrigeration systems is in the 25-30 percent range per year! Unfortunately, this doesn’t really surprise me when you consider that this would mean only losing the entire charge every three years. There are lots of opportunities for the industry to improve and a lot of new technologies that are making things pretty interesting.

Related technologies changing too There are other technologies and issues that are changing beyond the refrigerant used. The increase of controls capabilities and electronic expansion valves allows much better control and low head pressure operation. These technologies can lead to more efficient operation, but they come with a price. Not only do they cost more initially, but controls and settings drift over time and are often not actually optimized for their particular installation. It is crucially important that complicated control systems be well documented and understood and that they are periodically checked and calibrated. Otherwise, the extra Greg Scrivener is a refrigeration consultant for Cold Dynamics in Edmonton. He is a professional engineer, journeyman refrigeration mechanic and holds RSES CMS designation in commercial refrigeration. He can be reached at greg.scrivener@colddynamics.com


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 43

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Tools & Instruments Lightweight drain machine The new Model DRZ-PH power drain cleaner from General Pipe Cleaners offers a quick, clean way to clear clogged sink, tub and laundry drains in 1-1/4” to 3” lines. Weighing just 30 lbs., it features a variable speed power cable feed that operates at up to 16 feet per minute. A four-foot guide tube means the user need not touch the cable. A pneumatic foot pedal keeps hands free. A rust resistant aluminum drum carries up to 50 feet of 1/4” or 5/16”, or 35’ of 3/8” Flexicore wire rope center cable. A quick-change cartridge system allows quick changes to different cable diameters. General Pipe Cleaners www.drainbrain.com

Heavy duty but light The new DCH481X2 60V 1-9/16” SDS Max combination hammer drill from DeWalt is a light weight high-performance machine powered by a brushless motor and durable German engineered mechanism. It delivers 6.1 joules of impact energy for fast drilling, even in the hardest concrete, reports the manufacturer. The company’s E-Clutch system provides enhanced control to the user in a bind up situation and can help minimize sudden torque reaction. Active Vibration Control technology reduces fatigue for the user and increases productivity. DeWalt www.dewalt.com

Refrigeration leak sealant Compact tape measures Tape measures have become heavier and bulkier in recent years, which can be a pain to those that need to carry them all day. Milwaukee Tool has addressed this issue with a new lineup of compact tape measures. They offer, for example, a 25’ tape in the equivalent of a 16-foot housing. Durability has not been sacrificed, says the company. Compact tape measures are available in 16’, 25’ and 30’ models. Milwaukee Tool www.milwaukeetool.com


Plumbing & HVAC – January/February 2017

PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 44

AC Leak Freeze Pro from Rectorseal is designed as a leak sealant formula and applicator combination that’s safe for both the HVAC/R service tech and the refrigeration system, in residential and commercial applications. An 11.5-inch-long applicator consists of a flexible transparent refrigeration hose and an attached copper reservoir, which contains 1.46-ounces leak sealant. This kit doesn’t require a system pump down with R-410A systems and safely withstands all typical refrigerant pressures, reports the manufacturer. Rectorseal www.rectorseal.com.


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

In an otherwise stagnant field, only one brand of furnace is bringing innovation to the HVAC world. Napoleon’s Ultimate 9700 Series looks different because it is different. The revolutionary Vortex turbulator increases heating efficiency, the ultra violet light purifies air and the SureView burner window shows the flames in operation as the furnace runs whisper quiet. Don’t get boxed in by outdated thinking. ™


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 45

2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Trucks for the Trade Stan Collini gets a lot of marketing mileage from his 1935 Ford panel truck.

e y e ching t a c MARKETING TOOL AN

‘Bring the old truck,’ say customers By Simon Blake


Getting the word out about your business and the services it offers is an ongoing struggle. There are traditional avenues like TV, radio and newspaper ads and flyers, billboards, etc., and then there’s a whole plethora of new things thanks to the Internet. One thing that most contractors understand is that their truck(s) can be an effective rolling billboard for their business. One Greater Toronto Area (GTA) contractor decided to take that a step further. For many years Stan Collini, president of Roto Rooter Plumbing, Drain, Cleanup and Restoration Service in Toronto, thought it would be neat to have a truck made in the same year as Roto Rooter was founded – 1935. Founder Samuel Blanc invented the cable type drain cleaning machine, which he called the “Roto-Rooter,” and went on to create the company that now has over 600 locations across North America and an expanded list of services including plumbing, excavation, disaster cleanup and restoration.

Plumbing & HVAC – January/February 2017

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The controls have been updated to modern standards. In 2012 Collini started seriously looking for a 1935 Ford panel truck. He wanted it to look original but be a reliable daily driver. Over the next few years, he viewed


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Collini. “It has everything your car has.� It handles well too with modern suspension and the 350 cubic inch V-8 under the hood gives it a good push. (Collini is reluctant to admit it, but a Chevy engine powers this Ford. Hot rodders have been doing that engine swap since GM introduced the Chevy small block in 1955.)

Just in case there’s any confusion‌

sponsoring a hole. Any time a staff member is going to a special event like a fall fair, Collini encourages them to take the vintage truck. In fact it’s fun to drive and sometimes staff take it simply when they are doing an errand like going to the wholesaler. And customers ask for it. “Bring the old truck,� is a request that company dispatchers often hear.

Making it roadworthy a number of them, but most had been customized to the point where they didn’t look much like the traditional plumbing truck that he had in mind. His luck changed in 2015 when he found the one he ended up buying in Ontario, California. It was the exact year and model he wanted. It looked original, but the running gear had been upgraded to modern specifications as had the interior, which now featured six way adjustable seats, air conditioning and all the comforts that today’s drivers expect. “It’s nice to drive,� says

The truck arrived at Collini’s shop on Christmas Eve, 2015 after being hauled from California by a company that specializes in transporting vintage vehicles. It needed relatively little. Collini had his mechanic go over it and he changed a few things. The period Roto-Rooter labeling had to be applied. Many people have seen the truck since then. Collini and his staff take it to home shows, vintage car cruise nights and other auto events. It has been parked on the green at golf tournaments where Roto-Rooter is


How much? The obvious question that other contractors want to know is how much did this cost? How much of Collini’s marketing dollars went into this project? All told, he estimates that he spent about $50,000. It’s a lot of money, but then he notes that might buy him a few month’s radio and television advertising, or maybe a billboard. At the end of the day, he laughs, “I’ve still got the truck.� And that’s good value for his marketing dollars!



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PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 47


January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q People & Places

A life in

Avid sailor


Sinclair Supply president Dan Sorochan retires

regional business manager. The company’s relationship with ICP goes back to the 70s.

A growing company

Dan Sorochan Seventy years is a long time in the HVAC/R wholesale business. When Dan Sorochan, joined Sinclair Stove & Heating in 1947 at age 19 as a general-purpose employee, it was located in owner Walter Sinclair’s two-car garage in Edmonton. Sinclair had started the business just a year earlier. Dan worked hard and became an integral part of the company as it evolved. In 1953, Walter passed away and Dan was named general manager. Over the course of 70 years since Dan joined the company, it has expanded across Western Canada to the point where it now has 17 branches and 180 employees. And Dan, who is now 89, has decided it’s time to retire. He will be missed. “His thoughtful style of leadership cultivated a family atmosphere at work and demonstrated an obligation to service and excellence that customers could rely on,” remarked company president Paul K. Lachambre. “Dan’s commitment to inventory of equipment and parts and the hiring of knowledgeable staff won loyalty and respect from contractors, employees and suppliers,” added Bruce Morton, ICP Canada western


From those early years, Dan became coowner of the company with Walter’s son, Bill Sinclair. In 1957 Sinclair Stove & Supply became Sinclair Supply Limited. Business was growing and the company was expanding. It moved to a new 12,000 sq. ft. warehouse and office on 119 Street in Edmonton. A branch office and warehouse was opened in Calgary to serve Southern Alberta. In 1968, the company opened another branch on Edmonton’s South Side and added another 6,000 sq. ft. to the main Edmonton location. Bill Sinclair retired in 1972 and Dan became the sole owner. In 1974 the company acquired the Belvent Manufacturing Ltd. franchise for Western Canada. Now employee owned, it makes B-vent prefabricated chimneys. Growth continued and by the 1980s Sinclair Supply found itself cramped in its Edmonton headquarters and moved to larger premises on 120 Street in Edmonton. That decade also saw considerable expansion, with the establishment of branches in Red Deer, Alta., Regina and Saskatoon. Growth continued into the 1990s with new branches in Lethbridge, Alta. along with Surrey, B.C. and Victoria. The company also acquired Majestic Heating Products and amalgamated it into the South Edmonton branch with full sheet metal capabilities. The next decade saw the main Edmonton warehouse expanded to include a sheet metal custom fabrication and manufacturing facility. More new branches followed: Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie, Alta., Prince George, Terrace, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Kamloops, B.C. and Winnipeg.

Plumbing & HVAC – January/February 2017

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As the rapid and continuous expansion of Sinclair Supply illustrates, Dan has been a very busy man. But he did find time to raise a family and today has three children and five grandchildren. And business didn’t keep him from enjoying a bit of downtime in his favorite hobby – sailing. For 30 years he kept a sailboat on the West Coast, taking family vacations there and abroad, often accompanied by one of his dogs, which were also regular visitors to the Sinclair Supply office. He was a founding member of the Wabamun Sailing Club at Lake Wabamun, west of Edmonton, in 1960. The Danny Sorochan Junior Sailing Fund, to train young sailors, was started in 1990. He also enjoyed hiking, often with his daughters, in B.C. and Europe.

Giving back Dan is a strong believer in giving back, both to his community and to the industry. In 2006, on the 60th anniversary of Sinclair Supply, the company donated $100,000 towards the development of HVAC/R programs at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton. He has also contributed to scholarships at NAIT and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary, as well as supporting the Sinclair Supply Lab at SAIT. He has also supported many charities for things like children’s hospitals, youth groups, wildlife conservation, women’s groups, etc. Sinclair Supply made a $10,000 donation to the Red Cross to support their efforts in the wildfires at Fort McMurray in May, 2016.

Steady hand Employees and customers will miss Dan’s steady hand on the helm at Sinclair Supply, but in reality little will change going forward. There has been no change in ownership. Dan has put a good team in place. Milan Tuba has been appointed CEO and Lachambre was named president. Sinclair Supply will carry on, without interruption, in the same manner it has over the past 70 years, remarked Lachambre.


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

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2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q People & Places

Leadership change at Groupe Deschênes But it remains all in the family There’s been a leadership change at Groupe Deschênes Inc., Canada’s third largest plumbing and HVAC/R wholesaler. François Deschênes has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the Montreal-based company. He is the fifth member of the Deschênes family to be nominated president in the company’s 77 years of business. François replaces his brother, Martin Deschênes, who will assume the position of vice chairman of the board after 17 years at the helm. He will continue to work on special projects and also become chairman of the board of the AD Canada P&H buying group (formerly Canaplus), a position previously held by François. “As a family business founded more than 75 years ago, Groupe Deschênes is very serious about the succession process. The board members have unanimously chosen


People Pat Hayes has joined AquaTech Sales and Marketing, Burlington, Ont. and Somers Environmental Products Inc., London, Ont., as a sales representative. He will work Pat Hayes from the London office. Wesmech Sales, Edmonton, welcomes Laurie Palmer, based in Calgary, to manage sales in Southern Alberta. The Canadian Water Quality Association, Mississauga, Ont., has appointed Aysha Muzaffar as program manager. Aysha Kendy Sandy has joined Muzaffar the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada, Mississauga, Ont., as chapter relations and careers coordinator.


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 51

François, following a rigorous process and are very pleased to work with him to achieve the company goals,” remarked Groupe Deschênes board chairman John LeBoutillier. François started at Groupe Deschênes in 2000 and his first role was as a representative at Canaplus. He also held the positions of vice president of procurement and vice president of marketing. In 2010, he became vice president and general manager for the Deschênes & Fils Ltée subsidiary in Montreal. Last year, he was appointed vice president of operations for the Quebec Region. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from HEC, the business school at the University of Montreal, and an Executive MBA from McGill-HEC Montreal. “I am very proud to see this continuity in the sustainability of the family enterprise,” commented Jacques Deschênes, honorary president of the board and father to Martin and François. His father founded the business in 1940, his brother Pierre led the business in the 60’s


Companies Nortek Global HVAC (formerly Nordyne), St. Louis, Missouri, has honored Marks Supply, Mississauga, Ont. as a top Gibson

François Deschênes and he ran it from 1973 to 2000, when Martin took over. Groupe Deschênes operates about 140 branches in plumbing, HVAC/R, electrical and automotive across Canada and has 18 retail plumbing stores in Ontario and Quebec. For more information, please visit www. groupedeschenes.com.

Sales Performer. The company also honored Trent Metals Ltd, Peterborough, Ont. as a top 2016 Frigidaire Sales Performer. Ontor Limited, Toronto, has been named a distributor for Williams Comfort HVAC products and Ripplepak insulation products.

In Memoriam Clarence Boonstra Contractor Clarence Boonstra, retired from Boonstra Heating and Air Conditioning, in Hamilton, Ont. died Jan. 10 at the age of 83, reports HRAI. He was a founding member of the HRAI Golden Horseshoe Chapter and received an HRAI Merit Award in 1996.

Contractors Division and was instrumental in founding the HRAI Manitoba Chapter. He volunteered long hours for HRAI, RSES as well as teaching at Red River College and the Westech Energy Training Centre, which he founded in Winnipeg.

Walter Woods Brian Baker Longtime Winnipeg contractor and industry advocate Brian Baker died Jan. 8 from cancer. He was president of Custom Vac Ltd., a former chair of both HRAI and the HRAI

Walter Woods, retired from Delhi Industries, Delhi, Ont., passed away Dec. 26 at age 91. He was a past chair of the HRAI Manufacturers Division and longtime industry volunteer right up to his retirement, reports HRAI.

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Shop Management It pays to check out all the options before acquiring a new cargo van, like these 2017 Ford Transit models.

B U Y V E R S U S L E A S E , PA R T I I



In part one of this article we explored the different types of leases compared to purchasing and some of the pitfalls of leasing (P&HVAC, Nov./Dec., 2016). Two of my very successful HVAC contractors take opposing positions in this issue. One leases; the other purchases. The arguments for the lease: “We do three-year leases on new vehicles. We do not do excessive mileage. Our vehicles always look new, we have very few repair bills (as they are under full warranty) and virtually no down time due to vehicle failure. We use our cash to generate profits in our business as it is not tied up in our vehicles. At the end of the lease we are not stuck with a vehicle we don’t want so we don’t have the hassle of selling it.” The arguments for purchasing: “We keep our vehicles a minimum of five years. We do excessive mileage. We maintain the vehicles

acquisition Use, type of business determines best approach By Ron Coleman


Plumbing & HVAC – January/February 2017

PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 52

well. We get five years out of outfitting our vehicles. We put our branding on them and racking and shelving. We have an asset at the end of the day. We believe that this is significantly cheaper than leasing because we commit for five years and, of course, we have the option of continuing on at our convenience. We trade the vehicles at a time of our choosing.”

Where to deal A key decision for the contractor is where to buy or lease. Is a dealer the right choice, or perhaps a fleet management company? Fleet management companies are growing. They provide businesses with an array of fleet management services such as capital leases, seasonal leases, step-up leases, vehicle purchases, etc. They work directly with the auto manufacturers to get deals for their clients. For example, the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) has a member partner program for


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

fleet management and vehicle leasing with Addison Fleet. The Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (MCAC) also has a similar program for members. Check with your association to see what they offer. Fleet management businesses also provide solutions for operating costs. So it makes sense to do a comparison between fleet management companies and going directly to dealerships. Also, at your next association meeting, talk to some of the other contractors and see what they are doing.

Leasing a vehicle If you do decide to lease make sure that you negotiate the payments. Historically dealers get higher prices when they make a lease rather than when they sell a vehicle. That additional $20 per month, tagged on to a lease payment that you don’t try to negotiate down, adds up to almost $1,000 over a 48-month lease. Leasing contracts are not standard documents; you need to understand the fine print on each lease. A common clause is the number of kilometres you can drive and the penalty for exceeding that limit. Can you live within the mileage limit? Build in an allowance for exceeding the limit. A 20,000 km excess over a four-year lease at 20 cents per kilometre will cost you an additional $4,000. When you purchase a vehicle the dealer will usually try to get you to let them finance it. Unless they are offering a very attractive promotion you will generally be better off using bank financing. Always compare the cash price to the financed price.

Don’t do this! Here are a few things that you absolutely don’t want to do: • Don’t get into a lease unless you are sure that you need the vehicle for the full term of the lease. • Don’t get into a lease unless you understand and accept all the terms of the contract. • Don’t get into a lease if you intend to make major modifications to the vehicle. • Don’t get into a lease if you are likely to


PHVAC-JanFeb2017.indd 53

damage the vehicle because of the type of work you do. • Don’t get into a lease unless the residual (“buy back”) value is defined and reasonable. • Don’t pay list price. • Don’t pay an excessive interest rate.

At your next association meeting, talk to some of the other contractors and see what they are doing Careful shopping Once you decide what vehicle you want shop around for the best deal (dealership versus fleet management company). Here are some things you will want to do: • Try to get the charge for excess mileage waived, or at very least make sure you know what it is. • Know the buy-out value at the end of the lease. • Be aware of any restrictions and what you have to do at the end of the lease before returning the vehicle. • If at the end of the lease your vehicle is in good condition, consider renewing the lease or buying it out. That way you will get extended value for any modifications or branding. • When returning a vehicle at the end of the lease, make sure you return all the bits and pieces that you got with it. Try to get a checklist from the dealer. A missing key fob can cost you $800. Floor mats, cargo mats, any GPS equipment, owner manuals, luggage crossbars, cargo covers and wheel rims are examples of items that you may have to return or pay for. If you are leasing a replacement vehicle you should find the dealership easier to deal with as they will see the benefit in the continued relationship.

Capital versus operating As we discussed in the last article, there is a trend towards buying vehicles through a capital lease rather than an operating lease. In order to make your decision making process clearer, here are some of the key elements: • If you are a high mileage user there is no penalty. • If there is going to be excessive wear and tear on the vehicle there is no penalty. • Lessee retains full equity. • Lessee can use the equity at the end of the lease towards a replacement vehicle. • There is no early termination penalty, thus allowing more flexibility on an on-going basis. • The biggest risk for the lessor is that the market value of the vehicle at the termination of the lease is the residual/ market value. This is where the early termination, the high mileage and the excess wear and tear come into play. • Do check with your accountant before signing a capital lease. Ultimately the decision to buy or lease is a trade-off decision that you must make depending on your specific circumstances. Weigh up the pros and cons and go with whichever route makes the most sense for your business and your drivers. The differences in whether to buy or lease is not a decision that is going to have a huge impact on your business. However, you should always negotiate for the best deal and make sure you are managing your operating costs effectively. Paying too much never makes sense. The longer term financing for purchasing vehicles that is now available can make the difference between a lease and a purchase a lot smaller. Ronald Coleman is a Vancouver-based accountant, management consultant, author and educator specializing in the construction industry. He can be reached by e-mail at ronald@ronaldcoleman.ca.

January/February 2017 – Plumbing & HVAC


2017-02-09 12:21 PM

Q Coming Events

Showtime in Quebec MCEE returns to Place Bonaventure The biggest Canadian event for the HVACR, plumbing, electrical and lighting industries is coming to Montreal this spring. With thousands of new products, technologies and ideas, MCEE 2017 (Mecanex, Climatex, Expolectriq, Eclairage) brings the entire industry together under one roof on April 26 and 27 at Place Bonaventure. Visitors will see displays from about 400 exhibitors from Canada, the U.S. and around the globe. Over 7,000 people attended the last edition of MCEE in 2015 and the number of registrations is already up considerably for this year’s event, reported Elizabeth McCullough, show manager for the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH), one of the show partners. Exhibitors will display and, in some cases, demonstrate products in plumbing, heating, hydronic heating, ventilation, electrical, lighting, air conditioning, refrigeration, electrical, water treatment, tools, trade vehicles, alarm systems, kitchen and bath fixtures, fire prevention, pipes, valves & fittings and software.

INDEX to ADVERTISERS A.O. Smith .......................................... 16 Air Heat* ............................................ 38 Bibby Ste. Croix .................................. 34 Bradford White ................................... 10 Caleffi................................................... 8 Cash Acme ......................................... 26 Centrotherm ....................................... 35 Daikin ................................................. 42 Danfoss .............................................. 36 Duravent............................................. 33 Fieldpiece............................................ 44 Ford ...................................................... 6 Fujitsu ................................................. 30 General Pipe Cleaners ........................... 2 Giant .................................................. 27 IBC Boilers ............................................ 4 ICP Canada ......................................... 49 IPEX .................................................... 37


Trade shows offer a rare opportunity to speak directly to the manufacturer.

New product competition Over 100 manufacturers are expected to enter their latest innovations in the New Product Showcase. A team of expert judges evaluates each entry and only those that meet strict criteria are accepted. Products must be new to the Canadian market within the last 12 months and applicants must be able to demonstrate that their product is innovative and provides a minimum of three new benefits.

Industry seminars This year’s event features an expanded education program with 23 seminars. With many people in the industry approaching retirement age, a talk on succession planning by industry icon Jacques Deschênes, honorary


Calendar FEB. 21-22: Ontario Geothermal Association Annual Conference, Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel, Mississauga, Ont. Contact Kendy Sandy at ksandy@hrai.ca or visit www.ontariogeothermal.ca for more information.

MARCH 19-23: MCEE ................................................. 50 Mitsubishi Electric ............................... 40 Napoleon ............................................ 45 Navien ................................................ 25 Noritz ................................................. 32 P&HVAC + .................................... 18, 38 RedZone* ........................................... 18 RIDGID................................................ 56 Riobel ................................................. 47 SmithsGastite ..................................... 55 Stelpro ................................................ 43 Taco Canada ....................................... 22 Viega .................................................. 28 Viessmann .......................................... 20 Watco ................................................. 11 Woodford ........................................... 14 Xylem ................................................... 7 Zoeller Pumps ....................................... 9 * Ontario only + outside Ontario

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vice chair of wholesaler Deschênes Group Inc., should draw considerable interest. Deschênes will share his unique insights on the morning of April 26 in a session titled “What do you want to become of your business when you leave it?” No pre-registration is required for the free session, which will be presented in French. Other sessions will cover topics like solar heating, mechanical integrity in HVAC/R system maintenance, hospital DHW recirculation systems, commercial radiant floor cooling, hydronic slab insulation, the future of refrigerants, CO2 refrigeration systems and many others. Visit the show website for full details. Registration is free until April 25 and those who register before March 31 can avoid lineups by having their badge mailed to them. For more details, please visit www.mcee.ca.

Canadian Construction Association Annual Conference, Barcelo May Palace, Riviera Maya, Mexico. Visit conference.cca-acc.com or call 613236-9455.

APRIL 26-27: MCEE 2017 trade show, Place Bonaventure, Montreal. Visit www. mcee.ca or call 1-800-639-2474.

JUNE 13-16: Cleaner Heat 2017, Canadian Oil Heat Association annual conference, Delta London Armouries, London, Ont. Visit www.cleanerheat.ca or call 1-800-257-1593.


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Gastite CSST. Because the shortest distance between two points is never a straight line. What makes Gastite corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) the gas piping of choice in Canada? Unlike rigid gas piping, Gastite CSST gives you the flexibility to navigate around natural obstacles without wasting time, money or materials. The system’s patented XR3™ fitting creates an allmetal seal to prevent gas leaks, which means no soldering, sealing or taping to slow you down. And because there are no special tools required to install Gastite, you’ll feel right at home installing it. For more information and a free Gastite CSST sizing app, visit gastite.com/ca/sizingapp

Gastite, 1116 Vaughn Parkway, Portland, TN 37148

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©2017, RIDGID, Inc. The RIDGID logo is a registered trademark of RIDGID, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.


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