May/June 2015

Page 1

Custom plumbing Publication Mail Agreement #40063170. Return postage guaranteed NEWCOM Business Media Inc. 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ontario M9W 5C4

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INSIDE Q Many of today’s refrigerants to be phased out Q Organizers report successful Montreal show Q Vancouver cracks down on sidewall venting Q Supervising sales people in your business



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Q Contents

Kitchen & Bath

Departments Hot Seat .........................................5 Flammable refrigerants

Industry News ..............................6 “New” refrigerants to be phased down

How it’s Made ............................40 Manufacturing in Canada isn’t easy

Training ........................................42 Wolseley launches mentoring program

People & Places ...........................44 Drain cleaning expert honoured

Coming Events ............................45 Whisky and education at HRAI conference

Shop Management .....................46 The sales person’s role

Products & Technologies

Mechanical excellence Behind the scenes at world class Pan Am pool


Faucets & Fixtures .......................16 Hot Water Heating ......................25 Air Conditioning..........................29 Refrigeration ...............................34 Tools & Instruments ....................39

Low flow in the home


It doesn’t have to feel that way

Cover: This B.C. plumber got called upon for a very unusual project. Please see our story on page 21. (Photo by Sean Russell)

Smooth operation Using VFDs for better refrigeration control


Employing youth


Wolseley launches mentoring program

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Hot Seat

May/June 2015 Volume 25, Number 4 ISSN 1919-0395

Publisher Mark Vreugdenhil (416) 614-5819

Flammable refrigerants The planned phase-out of a number of common refrigerants is going to have a far-reaching effect on our industry at all levels. Everything from manufacturing to distribution to trade qualifications and practices is going to be affected. And to most of us, the refrigerants now in the environmental spotlight are the “new” refrigerants – hydro fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants like R404a/507a, R410a, R407c and R134a. These replaced the last generation of refrigerants, which were found to cause damage to the Earth’s ozone layer. However, HFCs are now drawing concern from the authorities because of their global warming potential. When one rules out all refrigerants with ozone depleting properties and all those with global warming potential, the list of available refrigerants becomes pretty small. CO2 and ammonia are two that come to mind. They have been used in larger commercial systems. The very high pressure, particularly with CO2, has been an issue. On smaller systems, flammable refrigerants like propane (R290) and isobutene (R600a) have been proposed. These refrigerants are being used in Europe in a number of appliances and, much to the concern of our industry; they are widely available as do-it-yourself drop-in replacements for R-22 at some big box retailers in this country. This creates a very dangerous situation for air conditioning technicians that might be working on a V\VWHP XQDZDUH WKDW LW FRQWDLQV D ÀDPPDEOH UHIULJHUDQW

%ULQJLQJ LQ ÀDPPDEOH UHIULJHUDQWV FUHDWHV DOO NLQGV of other issues. Equipment has to be designed for it. Wholesalers will need to train staff, build special storage facilities and acquire the correct licenses to store and distribute it. 7UDGH FROOHJHV ZLOO KDYH WR VLJQL¿FDQWO\ DOWHU WKHLU training to ensure that apprentices learn about the correct procedures and tools to work with it. Provincial ministries of education and training will have to significantly change training curriculums for refrigeration and HVAC mechanics so that this training is included. The other issue for the industry is that the environmental authorities seem to be pressing ahead too quickly. The industry has barely had time to adapt to the “new” HFC refrigerants. Many contractors still lament the loss of R-22, which is a very effective refrigerant that provides excellent cooling while being quite easy to work with. “Easy to work with,” however, is not anywhere on the list of priorities for environmental authorities. The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada has asked the federal government to slow down and give the industry time to adapt. At this point it appears that changes won’t be pushed through as quickly as seems to be occurring in the U.S. We can only hope.

Editor Simon Blake (416) 614-5820 Design and Production Tim Norton/Janet Popadiuk Production Manager Lilianna Kantor (416) 614-5815 Circulation Manager Pat Glionna Corporate Services Anthony Evangelista

PLUMBING & HVAC Magazine is published eight times annually by NEWCOM 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.

NEWCOM Business Media Inc. 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9W 5C4 Tel: (416) 614-2200 • Fax (416) 614-8861

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POSTMASTER: Send all address changes and circulation inquiries to: Plumbing & HVAC Product News magazine, 451 Attwell Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9W 5C4. Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 40063170. 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 2015. 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

Q Industry News

Popular refrigerants to be phased out New refrigerants expected to require significant changes to training, distribution Plans are already being made to phase-down the use of some of the new refrigerants that contractors have been using in recent years. Hydro fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants replaced hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and chloroflurocarbon (CFC) refrigerants because they cause minimal damage to the ozone layer if released into the atmosphere. However, with the ozone layer gradually recovering, authorities are now looking at regulating HFCs with high global warming potential (GWP). This includes some of today’s most widely used refrigerants including R404a/507a, R410a, R407c and R134a. During recent meetings, Environment Canada indicated that they are looking at regulating R410a equipment. R410a is used primarily in air conditioning products, noted Emerson Climate Technologies Canada’s Dennis Kozina during a training centre open house in Brantford, Ont. April 8. “It’s going to be tough on all of us, depending on what the timelines are,” added Kozina, who also serves as refrigeration product section chairman for the Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI). He expects a more gradual phase down in Canada. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also proposed a ban on equipment using R404a/507a by next January. “Companies will have a tough time to comply with this. I am hoping this will change in the next few months,” he said. Manufacturers are hoping to convince the U.S. government to delay these changes by three to six years. He expects Environment Canada will publish its phase-down schedule in the fall. “I expect it will be a little gentler than in the U.S.”

Alternate refrigerant risks There is considerable concern that higher operating pressures and potential flammability of lower GWP refrigerants will increase the risk for refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics and technicians. This would require changes to refrigeration and air conditioning apprenticeship programs, remarked HRAI president Warren Heeley during the association’s Refrigeration Manufacturers Section meeting held in Mississauga, Ont. April 16. In fact, with some of the proposed refrigerants being things like propane (R290) and isobutene (R600a), it’s going to require changes throughout the


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

supply chain. “Now that we are going to be dealing with flammable refrigerants, there are going to be handling issues,” remarked Tom Boutette, president of B&B Trade Distribution Centre in London, Ont.

Minimizing the impact HRAI, along with the U.S.-based Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), is working with NRCan and Environment Canada to try and ensure a more reasonable phase-down approach in this country. On May 4, the two associations submitted joint comments to Environment Canada on draft HFC regulations presented to stakeholders at meetings in February and March. Environment Canada is proposing a phaseown schedule for HFCs similar to one that has been proposed for the past six years to partner countries in the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. It would bring HFCs, which were not initially included because they are not ozone depleting substances, under the Montreal Protocol. HRAI and AHRI support this approach.

It’s going to be tough on all of us, depending on what the timelines are.

The consultation documents also included sector specific proposals for maximum global warming potential (GWP) limits on refrigerants used in each of the refrigeration product sectors (stationary, mobile, appliance, foam blowing and aerosol). HRAI and AHRI, in their comments, noted that the schedule must also allow for sectors without readily available alternatives to continue to meet the demands of consumers until those alternatives are developed and commercialized. They also urged Environment Canada to adopt the approach of periodic technology reviews after the phase-down schedule is put in place to evaluate possible changes to the schedule in the future. These reviews should use technical resources such as the Montreal Protocol’s Technology and

Dennis Kozina explained the coming refrigerant changes to a packed classroom during a Copeland Climate Technologies Canada open house April 8 in Brantford, Ont. Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) as part of the periodic reviews. The schedule should also include time for equipment manufacturers to determine viable alternatives for their equipment, the time needed for redesigned products to undergo the necessary testing and certification and time for new refrigerants to be approved under Canadian building, fire and mechanical codes.

Different needs, different opinions In their comments, the associations also said there seems to be general support for specific GWP limits and deadline dates within the proposed HFC regulations for the stationary refrigeration and air conditioning sector, However, there are wide variances in opinion amongst individual companies on the proposed levels and timelines. The associations strongly urged Environment Canada to carefully assess the individual input from members of the stationary sector and to craft the next draft of the proposed regulations in a manner that takes into account a realistic view of the existing and proposed low GWP alternatives for the stationary sector and a realistic set of timelines for implementation of the GWP limits proposed. In addition, the associations feel it is important that these regulations create a level playing field for all industry members participating in the Canadian stationary sector and harmonize with the U.S. HFC regulations where possible. Visit for more information.


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Q Industry News

Organizers report successful Montreal show Viessmann Manufacturing Vitodens 222-F and B2TB solar water heater • Hydronic Heating Components – Belimo Aircontrols control valve • Air Duct Fittings – Top Supports Top08-22 support system

• Software (co-winners) a) Prolon Series 2000 HVAC control system b)Regulvar Inc. touch screen intercom • Tools – FLIR Systems, C2 thermal imaging system • Refrigeration – Daiken VRV-IV heat recovery chiller • Piping, Fittings and Accessories – IPEX Inc. DrainGuard DWV pipe The next edition of MCEE will take place in the spring of 2017.

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Contractors learned about new technologies at the Liberty Pumps booth. Organizers the recent MCEE trade show are reporting a successful event, with over 6,000 visitors examining products from 400 exhibitors over the two-day period. Held April 22-23 at Place Bonaventure in Montreal, organizers were pleased with the numbers, especially given that the trade show and conference had to compete with a Montreal Canadiens playoff hockey game on the 22nd. “MCEE 2015 was an excellent show, the best ever. We were very happy with both the quantity and quality of visitors we met at the Viessmann booth. We will be back in 2017,” reported Viessmann’s Ken Webster. Visitors packed the New Product Showcase at the entrance to the show to check out the finalists in the New Product Competition and attendance was excellent at the 26 seminars, report organizers. A panel of experts, all engineers, judged entries in the New Product Showcase. The winners in the mechanical categories were: • Product of the Year – FLIR Systems, for the FLIR C2 thermal imaging system • Heating or cooling hydronic appliances (co-winners): a) Swegon Parasol Adapt climate beams b)Aermec NYB F modular chiller • Forced air Appliances (co-winners): a) Neptronic electric coil b)Biddle Air Systems gas air heater • Plumbing Fixtures & Faucets – Delta Faucet Co. Temp20 hand shower • DHW Heaters – A.O. Smith Cyclone Mxi condensing water heater • Combo Systems (hot water and space heating) –




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May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q Industry News

Vancouver restricts sidewall venting


hanges to the City of Vancouver Building Bylaw that came into effect Jan. 1 put severe restrictions on sidewall venting of furnaces and boilers. Industry officials worry that similar bylaws may be enacted in other cities as housing lot sizes decrease and homes are built closer together, sometimes as close as three feet. Vancouver made the changes because of condensation-laden exhaust and/or noise at the exhaust outlet, typically when a vent termination faces a narrow side-yard area. Gas fireplaces are excluded. The updated bylaw stipulates that exhaust vents for boilers and furnaces must be directed either vertically through the roof with the discharge at least 1.5 meters from the property line or horizontally through an exterior wall that faces a street with the discharge at lease three meters (just under 10 feet) from the property line. Without being able to use a side or back wall, this makes sidewall venting difficult or impossible in some cases and severely restricts the ability to install high efficiency equipment, reports the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI). In addition, Vancouver has a strict noise control bylaw and HVAC equipment is now required to comply. The changes were made following numerous complaints the city received after high efficiency appliances were introduced, reported Jag Sandhu, communications co-ordinator for the city, by e-mail. “With the existing clearance code requirements of the CSA B149 (Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code), the city found that they did not address the minimal distances that are unique to homes in Vancouver. The new requirements take into account proximity from neighboring properties and pushes the exhaust gases to generally dispose within the property boundaries.” HRAI sent a letter to the City of Vancouver questioning the changes. HRAI is not aware of any documented evidence of noise issues with sidewall vented appliances, added David Terlizzi, HRAI manager of technical services. However, said Sandhu: “Fan motors of some power vented equipment can be loud, even when installed to manufacturer specifications. These noise levels can exceed allowable noise limits set out in our municipal noise bylaws.“ In its response to HRAI’s letter, Vancouver officials have “suggested that we provide engineering reports and prove that the noise isn’t substantial from high efficiency equipment,” said Terlizzi. He’s not aware that any such tests have ever been done and to commission them would be expensive. Manufacturers test their furnaces and air conditioners for noise in a lab setting as part of the

research, development and certification process. However, “I’m not sure if anyone has ever done noise tests at the vent termination,” said Terlizzi. “This isn’t

about how loud the whole unit is,” he added. “It’s how loud it is when it’s exiting the vent – simply from bouncing off another house...” Vancouver is encouraging manufacturers, engineers and contractors to put more thought into planning vent terminations in their HVAC designs. The industry is worried that other cities may follow Vancouver’s lead. “It sets a dangerous precedent,” noted Terlizzi. “Land is becoming more expensive and houses are getting closer together. What if the City of Toronto gets ahold of this – it’s that whole domino effect.”



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May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q Building Green Pool designer Tim Hamel expects that swimming records will fall during the upcoming Pan Am Games.

Mechanical excellence


State-of-the-art aquatic centre expected to help athletes achieve record times By Bruce Nagy

The Pan Am Games and Parapan Am Games are about exceptional athletic achievements. But when they are held in the Greater Toronto Area this summer, the exceptional achievements will also include more than 30 sparkling new sports venues. About half the $1.44 billion budget went to construction or refurbishing buildings in preparation for a 41-country sport spectacular and a boisterous summer party. “We’re already seeing personal bests; and that tells me it’s a fast pool,” says Tim Hamel, principal of the Rec Tec Management Group in Toronto. He hopes the Markham Pan Am Centre will soon be known for world records. Hamel was hired in 2011 to design the 50-metre competition swimming pool and has been working at it for four long years. His moment of glory, captured by high-definition Pan Am television cameras, is about to be realized. “I’m pretty proud of this pool,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. He was a competitive swimmer, pool operator and pool builder before he became a designer. Hamel’s creation is a swimmer’s dream in a building filled with positive self-talk, challenging water volumes and noteworthy HVAC accomplishments. In addition to the pool, the facility houses a large fitness centre, competition gymnasium, warm-up gym and spectator areas for 2,000 fans.

for mechanical contractor Geo. A. Kelson Co. Ltd., Newmarket, Ont. He mentions the Toronto 2015 Pan Am organizers, the City of Markham and Infrastructure Ontario. He could easily add others providing input like B&H, the architect for the 13,700 square metre facility (147,460 sq. ft.), The Mitchell Partnership (TMP), Toronto, the mechanical engineer, and FINA, the international swim competition governing body. The Pan Am governing body provided strict guidelines on airflows, temperatures, and lighting for badminton, table tennis and water polo; which will also be held here.

District energy All of the facility’s heating and cooling energy is piped in from a nearby district energy plant. “We’ve designed for 600 tons of cooling and 3,300 kW of heating, but we have capacity for more…With the TV lights and spectators we anticipate 150 watts of extra cooling load,” remarked Peter Ronson, vice president, Markham District Energy. Markham District Energy Inc. was created after an ice storm in 1998 left some areas without power for weeks and showed just how vulnerable the city and its industry was to problems with the electrical grid. The district energy station also supplies a nearby YMCA, some hotels, municipal buildings, condos, schools, and a theatre. Ronson describes numerous advantages including simple construction scheduling; capital, operations and maintenance cost sharing; risk sharing; and operations team focus. These, along with bulk buying gas at the wellhead, mean savings of about 50 percent on energy costs. In the future they will likely switch the energy source for numerous buildings very smoothly to renewables, said Ronson.

Condensation Managing pressure Heating and cooling is provided by one of Markham’s district energy plants.


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

Managing pressure on the project meant more than adjusting mechanical equipment. “We had to satisfy at least three entities, reported Jon Russill, project manager

The district energy hot water feed arrives in the Centre’s mechanical room at 71°C (160°F) and returns at a temperature below 55°C (131°F). The chilled water is supplied at varying temperatures such as 7.2°C (45°F)

City of Markham project manager Max Stanford, left, and engineer Steve Orchard probably won’t be taking holidays during the Pan Am Games. in the summer and 9.5°C (49°F) in the winter. “This building has a lot of the glazing so we have to ensure adequate airflow to reduce condensation,” said Steve Orchard, a partner with TMP and lead HVAC engineer for the building. “There’s a lot of heat coming from athletes, spectators and water in the pool area.” “District energy is really easy to work with. We came off the main and gave the pool team a four-inch connection. They worked from the backflow preventer to supply their systems,” said Russill. “For HVAC the control valves feed up to each air handler. The two mechanical rooms were pretty small. It was a challenge to get the backflow preventers in there and meet code.” The 11 air handlers range from 2,500 to 24,000 cfm. A Dectron dehumidifier serves the pool in tandem with two of them. Five have built-in run-around heat recovery with 45 percent efficiency and two use heat wheels, at around 70 percent. “Whenever you have an air handler using 30 to 40 percent outdoor air, it makes sense to add heat recovery,” said Orchard. “We also reclaim heat from compressors in a unique way, dumping it into the heating water return.” Condensing water at 41°C (105°F) feeds into the dehumidification unit and then is discharged at a maximum of 52°C (125°F). It’s a variable volume system with modulating pumps and a differential bypass,

Five of the 11 air handlers feature heat recovery.

reported TMP mechanical designer Mitch Kooistra. Prior to passing through the dehumidification loop, condensing water goes through a tempering heat exchanger. The cold side is fed by the building’s chilled water return loop on its way back to the district energy cooling exchanger. Condensing water return then mixes with the heating glycol return, passes through a heat exchanger (heat provided by the district energy system) and becomes the heating glycol, pre-heating seven of the air handlers, the dehumidifier, DHW heat exchanger and the pool heat recovery exchanger. One particular heat exchanger shuts off whenever another is enabled, achieving optimum efficiency, because all of the energy is recovered from the dehumidifier as low-grade heat.

Control systems The five heat exchangers in the building handle up to 16 million Btu’s. Control valves feed real time data to a Johnson Metasys system. A big monitor in the mechanical room allows staff to check and adjust setpoints and actual temperatures. “When Pan Am arrives, they completely take over. They bring security and all their own technicians to

Please see ‘Pool’ on page 14

Heat for the pool is provided through this heat exchanger.

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q Building Green

Pool has its own mechanical system Continued from page 13 operate the building,” said City of Markham project manager Max Stanford. “Still, I was advised not to take a vacation during the Games, just in case.” He is beaming as he shows visitors through the centre, explaining that it collects storm water in a 110,000litre cistern and pumps it to the irrigation system. He describes the process of laying timbers beneath a 360ton crane that lifted eight 170-foot B.C. fir trusses into place above the pool; each weighing more than 86 tons. The building is also designed as a post-disaster facility says Kooistra. All of the mechanical, electrical, and structural components have to be able to withstand earthquakes and remain operational. “The seismic bracing consists of structurally designed steel pipe racks and equipment bases as well as aircraft cable for ductwork and pipe supports.”

Swimming pool equipment Hamel went with a dual water system in case of failure and to accommodate two-phase filter backwashing. Two 50 horsepower pumps move four million litres of water through the filters every four hours (16,000 litres per minute). “Filtration makes the water clear, chlorine makes it safer by killing bacteria. But chlorine is not good for people,” he says. “Swimmers train in the water

The pool water filtration system along with one of the expansion tanks. for 2-4 hours a day.” Therefore, the system uses ultraviolet lamps for disinfection. That kills about 60 percent of the bacteria and minimizes chlorine use. The control system monitors and automatically adjusts temperatures, tank pressures, chlorine levels, PH, water clarity, and chemical tank levels. It triggers the addition of chemicals and sends alerts when incoming and outgoing tank pressures differ by 10 PSI, meaning a backwash is due. Like many modern competition pools, this one is stainless steel with a concrete bottom. Steel pools can be bolted together in a few weeks and sized very precisely. When Pan Am inspects it the pool cannot be short, but

can be up to 20 mm long. The surveyor uses bulkheads, screw jacks, motors and axles to tweak the size. All the mechanical equipment is accessible without draining the pool. Once measurements are verified everything is locked in. “They also check temperatures in 20 positions. Water at 79°F is ideal for swimmers and the air has to be 2°F warmer,” said Hamel. “If it’s too warm, too cold, or too different, swimmers overheat, have difficulty breathing or experience tightening of muscles.” Overflow returns are not located in the pool wall. Instead the pool is completely full and overflowing into pool deck gutters located around the perimeter. This eliminates wave bounce off walls, which would hamper swimmers in outside lanes; and it means the pool is continuously skimming. “This pool is fast because there are no concrete walls and we were able to design swim lanes to the maximum width of 2.5 metres,” says Hamel, his eyes twinkling again. “This pool, this building; records are going to be broken. People are going to achieve excellence.” If you ask us, they already have. Bruce Nagy is a Toronto-based freelance writer that reports on green technologies and solutions. He can be reached at

Water heaters built by Canadians for Canadians!


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015



Q Faucets & Fixtures Manufacturers like Kohler have gone to considerable effort to ensure that low flow showerheads don’t feel like low flow.

Low flow


Specifying residential water conservation products that meet consumer expectations By Simon Blake

L “

iving green” is high on the list for many Canadian homeowners, but water conservation doesn’t tend to be a priority. That is starting to change. Young homebuyers, in particular, want green features. “On new construction now, customers simply expect that green initiatives will be built into the house,” remarked Garry Scott, vice president, marketing and brand development, for Moen Canada, Oakville, Ont. Building codes are also driving the change. In new construction, the 2015 National Plumbing Code will require that showerheads flow a maximum of 7.6 litres per minute (2 GPM) – the same as the U.S. WaterSense standard – while lavatory faucets will be restricted to 5.7 LPM (1.5 GPM). Ontario made the change Jan. 1. “There is a lot of demand for consumption below that, and that is driven by LEED,” remarked Frank Leone, regional manager for Ontario and Atlantic, American Standard Canada, Mississauga, Ont. Increasingly, residential complexes like condominiums are being built to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

In its Montreal showroom, Riobel invites visitors to feel the difference between the Kubik regular flow faucet, left, and Riu 0.5 GPM ultra low flow model.

Environmental Design) green building standard. It’s a major selling point. Luc Lefebvre, national sales manager for Riobel, Montreal, agrees. A year ago, about 15 percent of the residential projects the company quoted required water conserving faucets and showers. This year the number has jumped to about 30 percent. Municipalities are also driving the change as their water treatment and sewage plants are pushed to the limit. “It’s not only about conserving water, but it’s what do you do with the water that has been used,” added Leone. “I think that’s a bigger issue here in Toronto.”

Low flow that doesn’t feel that way While consumers may want low flow faucets and showerheads, they don’t want them to feel that way. “What they care about is product experience and if they are not happy with the performance they will be quick to return the product,” noted Karen Marshall, vice president of marketing for Delta Faucet Canada. A water saving shower must feel as good or better than their old high volume model. Manufacturers have gone to considerable efforts to ensure customers are not disappointed. “The question that consumers always ask is that if I reduce the water flow will I still get a good shower,” noted Scott. While most manufacturers follow the WaterSense standard, showerheads are available that flow as little as 5.7 LPM (1.5 GPM). Manufacturers use different technologies to achieve this, but just about all of them add air to a carefully designed spray pattern so that the homeowner will still get a good shower. “The lack of water is compensated for by a rush of air. When the water hits your body it’s actually the same strength as it was before,” said Lefebvre. A rainshower head is the most challenging in which to achieve water conservation, remarked Scott. “It will trickle out if not designed properly.” Moen addresses this with its Immersion technology, a pressurized system that transfers water in a circular pattern so that each nozzle in the showerhead gets even coverage. American Standard uses a proprietary “turbine” technology in its FloWise showerheads. It reduces the water flow but accelerates it and adds a little bit of air. Delta Faucet’s H2Okinetic technology directs larger droplets through fewer holes which, combined with oscillation, gives the feel of more flow.

Delta Mutli-Flow kitchen faucets allow the user to toggle between regular and low flow.

Changing the aerator allows manufacturers to offer one lavatory faucet, like this American Standard Fluent Monoblock, in different flow rates.

At the lavatory Manufacturers offer lavatory faucets with substantially lower flows than code requires to customers that need it, for LEED credits, for example. Pressure compensating aerators allow a lower flow without it feeling that way. “If you just squeezed back the flow, with the pressure pushing from behind, the water would come out like needles,” remarked Leone. “The faucet bodies are the same. It’s all done in the aerator,” he added. Flow rates can be as low as 1.9 LPM (0.5 GPM). However, anything below 3.8 LPM (1 GPM) doesn’t feel right to the user, noted David Raymond, engineering and development manager for Riobel. Low flow kitchen faucets are also available, but the contractor needs to be cautious. If the user needs to fill a pot or fill the sink – there is no option to use less water. “You’ve just made that chore that much longer,” noted Leone. However, faucets like the Delta Multi-Flow, for example, allow the user to toggle between the standard

1.5 GPM flow for chores like rinsing dishes, to high flow for filling pots, sinks, etc.

Retrofit an existing system By and large, installing a low flow faucet or showerhead is the same as installing a standard one. The most important thing is to install the right product to avoid complaints and callbacks. Lifetime warranties, ceramic disc cartridges and good parts availability all tend to indicate quality. If you’re not supplying, try to make some recommendations to the homeowner before they buy the product. Supply lines should be flushed to prevent debris from plugging the flow restrictor. This is even more important in green products, noted Josée Messier, technical support supervisor and trainer for Riobel. In older homes, a low flow showerhead paired with an older shower valve can create a potential scald hazard because the older valve won’t have the current automatic temperature compensating technology needed to work with low flow products, said Scott. Rob Zimmerman, manager of sustainability marketing, Kohler Co., Kohler, Wisconsin, agrees. “Older homes may have valves that don’t provide scalding protection at the lowest flow rates.” Any drain problems may be more pronounced with the lower flow because there is less water to wash things down. “You run into a higher incidence of blockage in a system that’s corroded, damaged or sagged,” said Scott.

Promoting water conservation

Electronic kitchen faucets, like this Moen MotionSense model, offer another approach to water conservation.

The industry needs to talk more about water conservation, says Lefebvre. With just about everyone on metered water systems, it is a good selling point. Environment Canada reports that about 35 percent of water used in a home is used for bathing. A 20 percent reduction will make a noticeable difference on the water bill. But knowing the products is critical. Homeowners want a product that looks good, lasts and works well. “You’d be best served to know which products perform best when you get a conservation request,” said Leone. “It is in the hands of the contractor and selling staff … to get the message across to the consumer that they can have a great product experience while at the same time saving themselves some money in the form of less water and energy being used in their homes,” added Marshall.

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Faucets & Fixtures

Heavy duty sinks Novanni is making a new line of 18-gauge stainless steel sinks at its Coldwater, Ont. plant. The Elite line features stainless steel that is 30 percent thicker than the traditional 20-gauge, providing a heavier, quieter and more durable sink. Drop-in models feature the company’s SynkSeal formed-in-place foam gasket. All sinks include a 3-1/2” drain opening and stainless steel strainer with all-metal tailpiece. The “soft square” bowl design increases capacity and functionality. Novanni

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A new four-way thermostatic/pressure-balanced coaxial shower valve from Riobel provides water to four different outlets with two separate temperature settings. This allows the plumber to install two hand shower rails and two rain showerheads in the same shower, controlling all four outputs with the four-way valve. Four water outlets allow the creation of the customer’s dream bathroom: for example, choose a single rain showerhead with two hand shower rails and add soothing body jets, or any combination the customer desires. Riobel

The INOX Shower Station from Blu Bathworks allows the plumber to create a shower beginning with a sleek, stainless steel fixed jet handshower with 60” spiral hose and a stainless steel wall-mount holder, choosing the desired functionality with thermostatic and/or non-thermostatic controls. Round or square rain showers in satin or polished finish can be added. The INOX line also includes faucets, tub fillers and many other products. Blu Bathworks

Quick bathroom installation The Aquazone from Aquabrass gives the plumber a quick way to install a bathroom. The shower and bath is molded into a single, space-saving acrylic “wet zone” that requires a space of only five by five feet. No bath overflow is needed because the central drain captures all spills. Two integrated wheels and six adjustable levelers means the plumber simply rolls the unit into place. Aquabrass

Commercial bathroom suite Moen Commercial is introducing new modern product styles to its heavy-duty M•Dura and medium-duty M•Bition lines, offering a contemporary and durable appearance. The line includes single and two-handle widespread lavatory faucets along with tub and shower components. Showerhead options include one with a standard flow rate of 9.4 litres per minute (2.5 gpm) or an Eco-Performance model with a flow rate of 1.5 gpm (5.7 L/min). Moen

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Q Faucets & Fixtures


plumbing Special project tests contractor’s skill and imagination

Considerable work and creative thinking resulted in beautiful bath nook.

By Simon Blake


esidential plumbing is seldom straightforward, but every now and again something comes along that really puts the plumber to the test. Such was the case when a local resident asked Robert Szachury, president of Turbo Plumbing in Whistler, B.C., to build him a very special tub faucet. That local resident was Allan Crawford and he owns a home that was originally built by artist Zube Aylward as a young man, largely out of found materials. He called it “The Willing Mind” after a pub in a Charles Dickens novel. “Everything in this house is difficult because of the construction,” noted Szachury. Crawford had Szachury install what appears to be a cast iron bathtub – it’s actually acrylic – in an oddly shaped raised nook with a gabled roof.

A special tub filler

Homeowner Allan Crawford, left, and Robert Szachury carved the tub filler out of a stump. (Sean Russell photo)

Needless to say, the tub filler had to match the décor. Crawford, who was involved throughout the process, and Szachury went outside to see what they could find. A cedar log stump, roughly two-and-a-half feet in diameter, looked like it might work. Szachury drilled a large hole though the centre to accommodate a three-inch copper pipe, with right angle elbows on each end. A smaller log was embedded into the side to act as the spout. This may sound primitive. But Szachury is a professional plumber and he was going to make sure that, despite the primitive appearance, the operation was going to be anything but. So he ordered a Moentrol pressure balanced shower valve. There was one problem, however. It was about two feet from the shower valve to

Please see ‘Off-the-shelf’ on page 23

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Faucets & Fixtures

Off-the-shelf wouldn’t cut it Continued from page 21 the front of the log where the handle needed to be. So, he did what any plumber would do – he phoned Moen. The conversation went something like this: Szachury: “Do you have an extension shaft for the handle on a Moentrol shower valve?â€? Moen: “Yes we do. How long do you need?â€? Szachury: “Two feet.â€? Moen: “Oh.â€? He thought perhaps he could get around the problem with modern push button faucet controls. But that too wouldn’t ďŹ t with the dĂŠcor.

Improvising a solution With no off-the-shelf product available, Szachury and Crawford were once again forced to improvise. Actually, “forcedâ€? is probably the wrong word. Crawford was quite clear that he wanted everything custom made to suit his vision for the home. Off-the-shelf wasn’t going to cut it. So, once again they had to look around and see what they could ďŹ nd. This time they found an old ship auger gathering dust. There are quicker ways to make holes these days. But the look fit the dĂŠcor and Szachury thought he could make it work. From the job site, he told P&HVAC: “We’ve taken an old carpenters ship

auger drill, cut the handle off, and we’re silver brazing and adapting a modern Moentrol shower valve which is inlaid into the log behind it. The T-handle is going to be the water turn-on with a push pull and a rotary dial for the temperature.� They extended the auger shaft with a steel pipe and that is brazed to the Moentrol shaft. The shower valve is inlaid into the back of the log, out of sight. The tools included two-foot drill bit extensions and a chain saw – not your usual plumbing tools, noted Szachury. This stuff isn’t taught in plumbing school.

Toasty towels He also made a custom shower bar. Starting with a 12ft. length of hard copper pipe, he bent it to form a towel holder before it goes to the showerhead. With the hot water owing through the pipe, it becomes an effective towel warmer. The tub drain proved challenging too. It took Szachury and his crew two days to run the exposed cast iron drain. So, how does one price a project like this? “You don’t,â€? says Szachury. Billing was time and materials and it worked out to about 80 hours or $8,000. But it’s not about the money, he adds. “When do you get creative freedom to do something like this? Almost never.â€? The last opportunity came about ten years ago when

Szachury displays the ďŹ nished tub ďŹ ller prior to installation. Turbo Plumbing built a vodka still that required the same type of creativity as the entire copper system was polished and on view to the public. The next special project may come sooner as Crawford is considering a hot tub. “It keeps my job interesting,â€? says Szachury.

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Q Hot Water Heating


Why they are needed and how to size them By Roy Collver

Some boilers come with built-in expansion tanks. The contractor must ensure that this tank is large enough for the system.

I have had a number of people ask me to do a feature on expansion tanks because of the problems they see in real-life installations. Given the nature of the problems reported to me lately (expansion tank too small – NO expansion tank at all), I decided to go back and cover the basics. Water or heating fluid expands significantly. One thousand gallons of water expands to about 1,040 gallons when heated from 40°F up to 200°F, or to about 1,080 gallons with 50/50 glycol. Figure 1 really explains the basic problem. I imagine some brave souls actually did this experiment to confirm the numbers, but don’t do this at home (or anywhere); it can really hurt. The experimenters took item one, a pressure vessel, and filled it with item two – water. They closed it up tight with no relief valve and then added item three – heat. They measured the pressure and recorded the results as shown on the chart. I hope they stood well off because a catastrophic failure was guaranteed at some point in the process. It is clear from this exercise that water is not compressible. As the water expands, we need to maintain a steady system pressure while “parking” the expanded water somewhere. (See Fig. 2) Every hot or chilled water system where the water temperature varies even slightly must include a means of dealing with the fluid expansion and contraction. This normally means installing a properly sized expansion tank – no exceptions. Today, pretty much all systems use diaphragm expansion tanks due to their compact size and flexibility of installation. As well, these tanks protect the system from contact with oxygen.

tank is not understanding the basics and not doing the engineering. Expansion tank sizing is really quite easy most of the time – all you need to know is how to apply the following formula:

Just kidding folks! – complex math like that is not usually necessary, but it has to be done somehow. Thankfully, many people, organizations and manufacturers have worked hard to make it easier for you. Hydronic heating system expansion tank sizing is based on the following parameters: • Starting (minimum) temperature of the fluid before it is heated (colder = more expansion at any given operating temperature) • Starting (minimum) pressure of the fluid before it is heated (at least enough to get the water to the top of the building plus prevent pump cavitation) • Maximum required temperature of the fluid plus a safety factor (commonly the operating high limit setting) • Maximum allowable pressure of the fluid (commonly the relief valve setting, less 10 percent) • System fluid volume, which is the total volume in boiler, piping, terminal units and all components. You have to look this up and/or calculate it; there are no shortcuts unfortunately (more volume to start with = more expansion)

Please see ‘educated’ on page 27

Common mistakes The whole concept of expansion tanks seems so simple, so where are people going wrong with this? Not putting an expansion tank in at all is a result of just plain ignorance – not knowing that they need one (which is pretty scary when you consider that those same people may not know about relief valves either). Or perhaps they just “forgot” to put one in, which is just as scary when you think about what else may have been forgotten. The main reason for under-sizing an expansion

Fig. 1: Heating water in a sealed pressure vessel will have disastrous consequences.

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Hot Water Heating

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Fig. 2: An expansion tank “parks” the excess fluid.

An educated approach Continued from page 25 • System fluid type – water or water/glycol expansion adjustment (more glycol = more expansion) These factors will be used to calculate how much the fluid will expand and, therefore (using the “parking” analogy), how big your parking lot has to be (total tank volume) based on how many cars it has to accept (acceptance volume).

Quick calculations Unfortunately, to learn to use the above formula requires a very good knowledge of math, which is why the industry has come up with many short cuts, particularly for “cookie-cutter” residential systems. TECA, here in B.C., has a one page input sheet with only two basic calculations for their “Quick Method,” but a two-pager and about 10 calculations for their detailed method. The best and most accurate of the “easy” methods come to us via software written by various parties. There are schools and organizations (CHC, TECA, NAIT, etc.) that teach this stuff and have software available to help you determine the acceptance volume required for any given system. John Siegenthaler ( has some nifty software available, and companies like Avenir Software ( include these calculations in their drawing software packages. For the most part, these packages will give you an acceptance volume number that you can then apply in selecting the correct sized tank from your choice of manufacturers. Expansion tank manufacturers also offer free software and online tools. The problem is – they tend to keep things close to the vest as far as the numbers are concerned, only revealing the model number of their particular product. I am more than a bit sceptical about some of the manufacturer’s software as many of their calculators are just TOO easy and don’t ask for nearly enough information, so they must be including a rather generous fudge factor. You may find that the tank they suggest is a bit bigger

than necessary, which won’t really hurt anything since you can over-size expansion tanks with impunity. You may spend a bit more for a bigger tank, you will need more chemicals / glycol, and it will take up more space – but like boiler selection in the old days, it is common practice with those who are unsure of their math to go with the next size up. However, it is always useful to learn how to do the calculations the old fashioned way so that you are not dependent on others.

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Built-in expansion tanks Be careful when using one of the new package boilers (or pre-built hydronic panels) that come with a built-in expansion tank. You still have to do the work and check the system design to make sure the on-board tank is big enough. If it is too small, you don’t have to go back to square one. You can always add a supplemental tank to the system to make up the shortfall. Don’t get too complacent if you are doing the same type of system over and over again and default to one tank size, and then find yourself in trouble when you do a system that is completely different. For instance, radiant heating systems using flexible tubing have built-in expansion in the tubing itself. They also don’t go through a radical temperature difference when using a condensing boiler (maybe 50 to 60°F from cold to hot). A smaller volume baseboard system, using rigid metallic pipe, running on a 120°F temperature difference might catch you by surprise. Finally, make sure your customers know to call you right away if they see a dripping relief valve. It is often the first indication that something is wrong with the expansion tank – or with your calculations. (For more information, look to my series of articles on expansion tank maintenance, types and sizes back in 2009/2010. They are still available for review at www. Go to Digital Editions / archives, and start at the Nov/Dec, 2009 edition.) Roy Collver is an author and consultant on hydronic heating based in Parksville, B.C. He can be reached at


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Q Air Conditioning




Blowing the cobwebs out a critical first step By Bob Bettles and Brian Guttormson

Maybe not “man’s best friend” in this case – the homeowner needs to prevent the family pet from marking its territory on the outdoor unit.

The cooling season is hopefully upon us while some are finishing up with the past hard winter heating months. Now we need to change our thoughts to a new cooling year. In the past heating season we had seen many faults pertaining to limit code flashes in products driven by software and also in some that do not (older products). All makes were involved – no one manufacturer is at fault. The common denominator is the lack of a full annual service or the time lag between services. And then there is the homeowner not changing or not running a filter. A dirty filter can cause the AC compressor to fail. During the compressor’s run cycle, its main objective is to pump refrigerant to the evaporator coil, but before it goes into the coil this refrigerant must pass through a metering device. This may be a capillary tube, a fixed

restrictor orifice or a thermal expansion valve (TXV). The system, when properly charged, must have a full column of liquid refrigerant from the condenser coil to the metering device at all times to feed the evaporator coil. Air pockets or bubbling will cause poor super heat and loss of cooling. A full liquid line entering into the metering device allows the proper matched flow into the coil and, with the right airflow of 350 to 400 CFM per ton, the refrigerant will start to boil off, turning into a super-heated gas within the evaporator. This change of state creates a cooling effect so that the humid air passing through the aluminum evaporator fins cools down. The drop in temperature also removes moisture from the air. This condensate runs down the coil’s fin pack and into its drain pan. Just a reminder – the current evaporator coil sections have a phenolic drain pan assembly with a proper slope to the drain outlet while older units with a metallic pan must be sloped to

Drains need to be checked during the annual cleaning.

This evaporator coil hasn’t been cleaned in some time.

Please see ‘Follow’ on page 31

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Air Conditioning

Follow a checklist Continued from page 29 the drain outlet when installed. Most of today’s high SEER units are rated at 350 CFM/ton. In some cases, such as with a missing filter, airflow above the coil’s rating will result in condensate being blown off the coil surface. If the airflow is too low as a result of a dirty filter or a buildup of dirt or debris on the fins, the required change of state in the refrigerant will not take place properly. The change of state should occur at the beginning of flow at the metering device. If it is delayed, the cooling effect if any will take place at the middle or towards the end of the coil. This is usually due to the evaporator coil freezing up because of not enough airflow over the coil’s fin pack. This late start within the coil can

percent efficient there would not be any airflow. Unless specified in the work order, the A-coil or other evaporating coils are not normally cleaned. Most do only a visual inspection. However, by the third year of operation cooling may be reduced and the unit will need further maintenance to get it back to its factory specifications. If regular services are missed or not completed properly, the homeowner’s operating costs will increase. Cleanups are an important part of the service call! Things to be completed include: • Test for refrigerant leaks with the use of a quality soap bubble, or a fully serviced leak detector instrument. • Check super-heat and sub-cooling levels to see if the refrigerant levels are correct. • If any leaks are found, capture the remaining charge with an approved

Manufacturers require full maintenance inspections and most will offer a suggested cleaning procedure. allow a mixture of gas and liquid refrigerant to pass through and travel back towards the compressor. If this mixture of gas and liquid get back as a constant to the compressor, the liquid can pick up crankcase oil and eventually constrict or plug up the metering device. As well, over time, any oil that passes into the coil will settle in the bottom fin pack, reducing the cooling capacity. The compressor will generate more heat during its run cycle due to the lack of oiling and, with liquid refrigerant in the crankcase and heightened amperage, the compressor windings will eventually burn out. Not good!

Keep it clean So, the importance of a clean system can’t be stressed enough. Manufacturers require full maintenance inspections and most will offer a suggested cleaning procedure. There are many cleaning solvents available. However, some manufacturers may have restrictions, so check with the manufacturer or distributor as to what chemicals are approved. There will always be a normal buildup of impurities or dirt over a period of time. After all, if the filters were 100

recovery system and recovery bottle; do not release refrigerants into the atmosphere. Weigh the charge removed from the system. Check for air leakage in ductwork, paying particular attention around the coil and its base. Confirm all airflow is passing through the coil. Measure airflow through the evaporator coil; confirm static pressure to charts from the coil or equipment manufacturer’s set-up specs. Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and the cooling system are not energized and operating simultaneously. Inspect electrical terminals, clean and tighten all connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if required. Oil any motors, pulley tensioners with oiling ports, check any belts for replacement if required, tighten blades, pulleys and confirm they are running true. Check accuracy of the thermostat and sensors if used, replace batteries if they are within the thermostat. Check the condenser section for fluff and dander. Some units with a

louvered wrapper will require this metal jacket be removed to allow proper cleaning. • Rinse the coil surface with a garden hose on a slight down angle to avoid damaging the coil surface. • Remind the homeowner of the need to protect the condenser from the effects of critters marking their territory! In our last article, during late night editing in a senior moment, we lost a line in the compressor-testing paragraph. Thanks to Brian Baker of Custom Vac. Ltd. in Winnipeg for your note and comments! “Check for Continuity” … C-R; C-S; S-R but wait… you’re not done… you must also go further. Never mind the heat thing and possible overload, we must also test C-ground, S-ground and R-ground. Another point missed is that capacitor failures can be the result of a capacitor that was replaced previously with too low a voltage rating, such as 370 VAC instead of 440 VAC for example. Run capacitors also often fail due to low charges, so when replacing run capacitors check the charge before calling the call solved. Start capacitors

often fail again when the relays hold them in too long. And finally, we see contactor failures because technicians replace capacitors and do not make sure the bleed resistors are installed on the new ones and so the contacts take the brunt of the amperage and pit and damage the contacts. Bob Bettles HVAC author and trainer Robert (Bob) Bettles is technical service adviser and product trainer for B&B Trade Distribution Centre. He can be reached at Brian Guttormson HVAC author and trainer Brian Guttormson is technical service advisor for Trent Metals Ltd. (Supply). He can be reached at



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May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q HVAC Roundup

The new Vitocrossal 300 offers an ideal retrofit in homes and small commercial buildings that have a floor-standing boiler.

Product Profile

Canadian voltage specific VRF AC

Floor-standing condensing boiler ideal for retrofits

LG Electronics (LG) has introduced a new air-cooled variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pump that operates on 575 volts, making it an ideal retrofit for Canadian buildings using 600 volts. In the past, engineers had to add a step-down transformer. The VRF 575V offers a cleaner install, with a smaller footprint (no need for external transformer) and less wiring, resulting in a substantial cost reduction. It can be used as a direct change-out for existing chiller/air handler systems. LG Electronics

The new Vitocrossal 300, CU3A gas-condensing boiler from Viessmann is designed for residential and light commercial applications – including high temperature, cast-iron boiler replacements, and multi-zone systems. It combines high temperature capability, high mass (water volume), floor standing design, condensing stainless steel construction and a modulating gas burner. A 316Ti stainless steel Inox-Crossal heat exchanger offers ideal conditions for intensive utilization of hot gases, resulting in efficiencies up to 98 percent. The smooth stainless steel surfaces allow the condensate created by the condensing process to simply run off downwards. This creates a permanent self-cleaning effect, ensuring high efficiency, long service life and reduced maintenance. Large water content is contained within the pocket design of the heat exchanger. This allows for simplified system piping with full system flow, eliminating the need for a dedicated boiler pump or primary/secondary piping. It is available in four models from 19 to 199 MBH. Headquartered in Germany with its Canadian plant in Waterloo, Ont., Viessmann is a family owned company with 11,500 employees worldwide. Viessmann

Outdoor inverter unit The high-efficiency Unico iSeries outdoor inverter unit offers multi-split technology that allows installers to connect one outdoor unit to both high wall units and ducted air handling units at the same time. Ranging in size from one to four tons, the outdoor unit compressor matches the power request of the indoor units. This creates more efficiency and energy savings because the compressor isn’t constantly cycling on and off. The multi-split outdoor unit has an operating range from -31C to 50C. Unico

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Q Refrigeration

Smooth operation Using VFDs to gain efficiency in commercial refrigeration By Greg Scrivener


A VFD controls this condenser for increased efficiency.


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

s is the case in of different methods and combinations of methods. many industries, Historically, multi-fan air-cooled condensers have the use of variable cycled fans or pairs of fans as required to maintain head frequency drives pressure and reduce energy usage. Many early adoptions (VFDs) is on the rise in of VFD technology simply used the VFD on the final commercial and industrial bank of fan motors to modulate and control the head refrigeration. A VFD is pressure more precisely. As it turns out, this was not the a device that alters the best method of control or the most efficient. frequency of the electrical If VFDs are used on multi-fan condensers they signal going to a motor, should be applied to every fan motor. The fan affinity which results in a change in laws tell us why. The fan affinity laws describe the motor speed. They accomplish this change in frequency behaviour of fans in an ‘unchanging’ system. Because of by rectifying the AC input signal into a DC signal the assumptions included in the fan affinity laws, they and then they invert the DC signal back into an AC are not necessarily exact but they do give us a very good signal that can be changed to any idea of the energy savings in fan frequency we desire. operation. Electrical services in North Taking a look at the fan America operate at a frequency affinity laws we can see the of 60Hz, which means that the airflow is proportional to the voltage and current complete a motor speed, but it has a cubic cycle 60 times per second. VFD’s relationship with horsepower and can alter this frequency and in power consumption. This cubic some cases can even increase relationship is the reason we can the motor speed by operating at achieve such drastic energy savings frequencies higher than 60Hz. In Figure 1: Fan cycling power usage in pumps and fans on VFD. refrigeration systems, we can apply compared to VFDs Figure 1 shows a comparison VFDs to three main components: between the power consumption condenser fans, evaporator fans and compressors. of cycling fans on an eight-fan condenser compared to operation with VFDs. There are many other benefits to Condenser fans using VFDs on condensers including more stable head Condensers are almost always sized to handle the pressure, less condenser temperature shock (not cycling peak refrigeration load at design ambient conditions. fans) and reduced bearing wear. This results in a need for capacity control, particularly when the condenser is located outdoors at low ambient Evaporator Fans temperatures. It is less common to see VFDs applied to evaporator Head pressure control can be achieved by a number fans. A big part of the reason for this is that most

Designed and tested by experts. Chosen by professionals. Appreciated by everyone. This VFD controls the condenser pictured on the previous page. commercial evaporators use small single-phase motors. And many of these evaporators can be purchased with electronically commutated motors (ECM), which increases their efficiency significantly. On larger commercial and industrial evaporators, VFDs can be a very good option. The fan affinity laws apply in a similar fashion as they do to condenser fans. It is worth pointing out that heat transfer doesn’t follow a linear relationship and we achieve an additional benefit as well. If you decrease the fan speed by 50 percent the heat transfer does not decrease by 50 percent. Instead, the heat transfer only decreases by approximately 40 percent. Evaporator fans also give off a lot of heat into the refrigerated space and using a VDF to decrease the power consumed by the motor drastically reduces this. One challenge with using VFDs on evaporators is that slowing down the fan motors also reduces the amount of ‘throw’ the fan achieves. This can result in ineffective mixing of the air in the cooler or freezer and warm spots could develop at low loads. In practice, this is often not a significant issue but it is something to be cautious of because there are installations that develop problems.

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Compressors Compressors are almost always the largest power consumers in a refrigeration plant. Unfortunately they do not follow the ‘fan affinity laws’ and there isn’t a huge power saving relationship available. With that said, a significant savings can still be achieved by using a VFD on a compressor to maintain suction pressure as high as possible. You’ve probably heard the rule of thumb that energy consumption increases two percent for every 1°F decrease in saturated suction pressure. This rule of thumb is not actually that accurate for many applications, but it does give us a rough idea of what effect suction pressure has on energy use. In part load situations, a compressor runs at lower than ideal suction pressures and cycles on and off to

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May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


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Q Refrigeration

Extra complexity can be a drawback Continued from page 35 meet the load. This results in unnecessary energy use that can be recovered by using a VFD. Additionally a VFD provides a ‘soft start’, allowing compressors to go slowly from a stop to full speed. This not only decreases the wear and tear on the compressor, it can decrease the peak power demand significantly. In areas with significant demand charges, this can be a significant savings.

minimize installation costs. As long as the drive is sized properly and motors are properly protected, multiple evaporator fan motors can share a single VFD. VFDs are becoming increasingly common, particularly on large commercial and industrial refrigeration plants. In most cases, condenser and evaporator fan installations have simple paybacks in the one to three-year range and compressors in the one to five-year range. If you have varying loads

and/or variable ambient temperatures, then chances are there is a VFD application that is cost effective in your situation for larger plants. Even relatively small condensers benefit from a good VFD installation. As the hunt for energy savings continue, VFDs will play a big role and it will take well trained technicians to maintain and operate these systems. If you have the opportunity to take a course on VFD operation and set-up, don’t turn it down.

If VFDs are used on multi-fan condensers they should be applied to every fan motor. In general it is not cost effective or desirable to install a VFD on more than one compressor in a suction group. Of course, because compressor design and construction vary considerably, it is important to take many factors into consideration when designing the control sequence for compressors with other unloading devices. For example, it is more efficient to use a VFD to unload a screw compressor than to use the slide valve; however some compressors might not benefit from a similar control sequence. Each situation is unique and depends on both the plant operation and specific compressor design.

Considerations VFDs add a level of complexity to the control sequence and operation that must be considered. They have components that can fail and they introduce another maintenance item into a facility. VFDs are also not 100 percent efficient and they have “drive losses” in the three to six percent range that can be even higher at low loads. This means that a compressor or fan operating at 100 percent with a VFD installed is less efficient than one without. In most cases, these loses are worth it because the equipment rarely runs at 100 percent for long periods of time, but there are certainly cases where a VFD is not ideal. It is also possible to run multiple motors from a single drive. In fact, in many cases, this is preferred to Greg Scrivener is president of Cold Dynamics, Meadow Lake, Sask. He is a journeyman refrigeration mechanic, holds RSES CMS designation in commercial refrigeration and is a mechanical engineer in training. He can be reached at

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q Tools & Instruments Professional wet/dry vacs

Adaptable roll groover

Ridgid has announced a new line of professional-grade wet/dry vacs built specifically for commercial and industrial users. There are 12 different models ranging from a highly portable four-gallon vac to the high-capacity16-gallon model with an integrated cart. Along with standard high-performance features such as powerful motors and professional hoses, the line features two cutting-edge models: the Motoron-Bottom (MOB) 1650RV and the Smart PulseTM RV3410 with self-cleaning filters. RIDGID

The Pace Model 2021 roll grooving machine from Mag Tool can roll groove a lot of pipe in a wide range of diameters with the simple push of a button. Six easily interchangeable top and bottom rollers meet virtually any piping system requirement. Up to 16,000 psi of hydraulic pressure is adjustable to provide optimum grooving efficiency for all diameters and wall thicknesses within the machine’s range. Mag Tool

Versatile vacuum pump Uniweld HUMM-VAC vacuum pumps are designed to remove moisture and dehydrate an air conditioning system quickly and efficiently. They have a micron rating of 15 and displace free air at 6, 8, and 12 CFM depending on model. Other features include a dual voltage power box (110/220V), low decibel fan cooled motor, low profile easy access oil drain, beveled reservoir pan for complete oil drainage and large sight glass for easy oil monitoring. Uniweld Products

Cordless Sawzall The new cordless M18 Sawzall features a new in-line cutting action designed to offer more control and faster starts in metal. The M18 lithium ion battery provides a longer runtime. Other features include electronic overload protection for the motor and battery pack and a robust, all-metal gear case and gearing. Milwaukee Tools

“Lawn mower-like operation” The General Pipe Cleaners Model 88 sectional drain cleaner easily clears 200-foot drain lines of tree roots and other stubborn stoppages. It is as easy to use as a lawn mower, reports the manufacturer. Users simply connect one end of the cable to the front of the machine and put the other end into the drain, then stand behind the machine and turn it on. The cable corkscrews itself into the line. A powerful 3/4-horsepower, heavy-duty motor is standard. It drives a 3.5-to-1 ratio gear head for plenty of power. A longer steel frame protects the drive coupling, and a larger front wheel provides easier handling on rough terrain. Standard equipment includes a safety clutch, air-actuated power switch, ground fault circuit interrupter, folding handle, steel base, 10-inch wheels and cable-feeding tool. General Pipe Cleaners

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May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q How it’s made


in Canada

It’s not easy, but one Quebec company has been making it work for 70 years By Simon Blake It’s not easy being a manufacturer in Canada these days. If one just looks at the numbers – higher labour costs, material costs, shipping costs and free trade all conspire against it. But for a Canadian running a Canadian company that has been supporting its community for the past 70 years, you find a way to make it work, says Claude Lesage, president of Giant Factories (Usines Giant) in Montreal-East. Today Giant is one of the big four water heater manufacturers in North America. Giant works continuously to stay competitive. Research and development on both products and manufacturing processes is continuous. That won’t ever stop, says Lesage. “If you don’t do that, you can’t sustain manufacturing in Canada.” There are many other key operating principles that have helped Giant survive and thrive over the years including self-sufficiency, avoiding debt and, as any visitor to the plant will be amazed by, a high degree of automation. Add to that loyalty to customers, suppliers and its 250 employees. The company also has a strict “buy Canadian” policy for materials, only going out of the country for the rare thing that isn’t made in Canada.

Small beginnings Giant didn’t start out building water heaters. Brothers Lucien, Claude’s father, and Jean Lesage started making replacement elements for electric clothing irons in Lucien’s basement in 1940. The Second World War was underway and materials were scarce. By 1945, now making complete irons, the business was too big for the basement and Giant moved to a roofless building at the current location in Montreal-East. In 1947 they added toasters and hot plates to the line. In 1948 Giant added water heater elements and started assembling complete water heaters with galvanized tanks imported from Britain, adding copper tanks a few years later.

Foreign competition However, beginning in the 1950s, Giant was increasingly facing stiff competition from Japanese manufacturers that flooded the market with small appliances at a lower price level. It needed a product that was large and heavy enough that shipping it from Japan was impractical. Electric water heaters fit the bill. The technology was evolving rapidly. A.O. Smith


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

In the early stage of their construction, tanks await the next step.

Claude, left, and Jean-Claude have worked hard to put Giant on a sound footing for the future. patented glass-lined water heaters in 1936. In 1954 the John Inglis Co. brought the technology to Canada. At the same time, electrical utilities were trying to reduce peak loads – it seems some things never change. In 1956, Lesage and his father attended a meeting with utilities in Niagara Falls, Ont. From that came the “standard” electric water heater with a 3000-watt upper element and a 1,000-watt lower element. This early effort at a “grid management system” provided a major boost to the water heater industry. “If you met the specs, the hydro utility would subsidize the water heater,” Lesage remembers. Giant launched its 40 and 60-gallon Cascade electric DHW heaters.

A different path Lesage hadn’t planned to join his father’s company. He was working as a field engineer for a consulting firm that built roads, bridges, tunnels and sewers. In 1963 Jean passed away suddenly and Lucien, with the help of a young employee, Mario Sinigagliese, tried

to keep the company alive. However, by 1965 with foreign competition mounting, Lucien realized it was time for new blood and a change in direction, so he brought Claude in. Sinigagliese was proving himself a born craftsman just like his father, an old world Italian tradesman that worked on industrial sewing machines. Mario and Claude quickly formed a strong team – “an incredible team,” Lesage remembers. They worked together to reorganize the plant. Their first priority was to remove partitions to streamline the manufacturing process. “We put everything in line, the Ford way,” noted Lesage. Just as it made sense for automobiles, a modern assembly line proved an efficient way to build water heaters. The company has long had its own tool and die department. Sinigagliese and his father were masters at “marrying” dissimilar metals to make dies, something that is common today but was almost unheard of in the 1960s. In 1967 Lesage acquired the company, with his father staying on as president and treasurer. The last clothing irons were made in 1968. In 1969 Giant boosted production of immersion elements by obtaining the tubular element production line from Westinghouse in Hamilton, Ont. Today this division of Giant makes over 800,000 elements each year, including a version for those Cascade water heaters that are still in service after many years.

Becoming self-sufficient One of the keys to Giant’s success is that it manufactures almost everything in-house. During the early years it bought steel tanks from a company in Hamilton, Ont. that supplied several assemblers across Canada. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt in 1970 and Giant was forced to buy the precious tanks from its competitors In 1973 a steel shortage reduced the supply of tanks to

By 1949, the product line had expanded considerably, as can be seen in this photo at a hardware show. It was a watershed moment for Giant Factories. “That fire made us realize that, as a team, we could do a lot of things,” remarked Lesage. “There’s not a lot of things that scare us,” added Jean-Claude Lesage, Claude’s son, who was six at the time of the fire and is now vice president.

Bigger things Giant. Lesage quickly realized that “we’re not going to be in business a year from now unless we build a tank plant.” The company did just that in only two years. It wasn’t easy and once again, money was tight. The plant was going to cost $100,000; the company had only $25,000. And $14,000 went right away to purchase a true circle roller to shape the sheet steel, with other equipment coming from a plant in Tennessee that had closed. A glass lining plant – the furnace that cures the glass tank lining – had to be built. Glass is crushed into a powder and applied as a paste inside the tank and then cured at 1,600°F. The company uses different steel and glasses to make a better tank. “By God they’re heavy, but they last a long time,” laughed John Wareham, former executive vice president at Giant, who still serves as a consultant to the organization. The company also gets involved with its suppliers to develop tailored solutions to meet its product designs and manufacturing requirements. With as much as possible being made in-house, a high standard of quality control is maintained. As the company built the first tank line in 1966, Lesage faced a personal crisis. He was scheduled to marry wife Lise, but their marriage had to be postponed for three months. It wouldn’t be the last time that family life had to be put on hold because of a problem at the plant.

A fiery turning point In November, 1982 the tank plant burned down when a

Grid management Electric storage tank water heaters have a bright future in a greener planet, says Lesage. They are increasingly seen as a key part of electrical grid management systems because they provide an inexpensive energy storage device that can be controlled to heat water in off-peak hours, frequency regulation and, with minimal standby

It started here for Giant. gas line fitting failed. Lesage received a phone call from Sinigagliese who, for the first time ever, called him “Mr. Lesage.” Claude knew something terrible had happened. However, they started rebuilding immediately, that very night. While the building was still smoldering, engineers and contractors began preparing drawings. Employees moved equipment outside the next morning where tents were erected around each piece so it could be repaired. Everyone worked around the clock. Bonuses were provided for contractors and their employees to get the work done as quickly as possible. The family served soup; it was a family rebuilding, remarked Lesage. Giant’s loyalty to suppliers paid off as they did everything they could to get the company going again. In just two weeks the 28,000 sq. ft. tank plant was back in operation in a new steel building. losses thanks to thick foam insulation, can store that energy for a considerable period. “The grid management technology is the future,” said Lesage. Already widely used in Europe, electric water heaters are connected to the utility’s grid management system that automatically turns them off during the day but more sophisticated system are in place so that no one will run out of hot water using the heaters in the way they are designed for, he added.

Until this point, Giant had been largely a regional manufacturer. However, with new capabilities and confidence, it began to expand its market across Canada. The company made large strides as Wareham, formerly vice president of Emco Ltd., used his national network of contacts to sign up new distributors. At the same time, free trade was creating opportunities in the U.S. market, which continues to grow, while also facing dramatically changing market dynamics in Canada due to the removal of trade barriers. It was also in 1987 that the company installed its first robot – the first of many to come. These were often bought from the auto industry as leftovers and modified for a particular task. The company works hard to be a good corporate citizen and steward of the environment. In 1997, it introduced its proprietary Green Foam insulation, which contains no HCFC’s, CFC’s, nor VOC’s and is 100 percent recyclable. Much of today’s research and development is aimed at meeting new government energy efficiency standards and the ever-changing requirements of end users. “There’s been so much evolution in past 20 years,” noted Jean-Claude. “But we’re there,” added Claude, noting that Giant’s technology can compete with any.

Looking to the future While 70 years of manufacturing in Canada is an important milestone for the company, 2015 is also a personal milestone for Lesage who is celebrating his 75th birthday and 50 years of running the company. 2015 will be a pivotal year as Claude scales back his activities and Jean-Claude leads the company into the future. They plan to keep the company in the family. Claude’s daughter Michele also works at Giant, in the financial department. They expect steady growth as they invest heavily in research and development, particularly in high efficiency gas products and electric grid management heaters. “There are still opportunities in Canada,” said JeanClaude, adding, “We’re very proud to be a Canadian manufacturer.”

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q Training

A hand up Wolseley youth employment program helps recent graduates launch careers By Simon Blake

Wolseley Canada has launched a new program designed to bring young people into the industry while also ensuring the company has the staff it needs as it grows and as veteran employees retire. Open to college and university graduates, the Sales Trainee Program pilot program will began May 11, giving 12 recent graduates an opportunity to learn the wholesale distribution business from the ground up. Those hired will be paid during the training period and offered full-time permanent positions upon successful completion. They will learn the wholesale business through a combination of online training, workshops and, most importantly, working alongside

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Wolseley Mississauga, Ont. branch manager John Hamilton, left, explains the company’s systems to trainee Adam Guzzo. (Photo by Mike O’Drowsky)

Wolseley employees at branch locations and warehouses across the country. “The Sales Training Program is a great opportunity for graduates to spend a year working alongside seasoned industry veterans to learn the best practices for the wholesale distribution industry,” said Greg Smith, Wolseley Canada’s vice president of human resources. The program will prepare trainees for positions

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Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

such as counter sales, inside sales and showroom sales and can be a springboard to more advanced sales and leadership positions. “All of their work experience is going to be in the branches – in the field. That’s really critical for us,” he added.

Continuing growth Wolseley had a number of motivations to create the program. “Preparing our business for growth from a talent and succession perspective is probably the key thing,” said Smith. “We also recognize that there’s this looming talent

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shortage. As we look at our (current employees) and there are a number of great people that are going to be retiring over the next little while, so how do we tap into the knowledge of those experts who are really excited about sharing it with young people going forward?” Wolseley officials have already learned a number of things based on the applications received so far. Originally targeted strictly at graduates of trade programs, “we’ve expanded it a little bit to include college and university programs that include business as well,” said Smith. However, product and installation knowledge remains critical.

A hand up With two university age children himself, Smith knows the struggles that young people are having in finding meaningful long-term employment these days. As a result, Wolseley is offering the program in the communities it serves partly as a way to give back. A side effect is that it has allowed Wolseley to build stronger relationships with the trade colleges, Smith added. “We want to re-invigorate those relationships.” The program will include two individuals from each of the following six regions: • • • • • •

Vancouver Island Calgary Edmonton Greater Toronto Area – West Ottawa Montreal

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Wolseley expects to continue the program on an annual basis. The application deadline for this year was April 31. More information is available in the Careers Section of the Wolseley Canada website – www.

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q People & Places The

People Marty Silverman, left, marketing manager for General Pipe Cleaners, McKees Rocks Pennsylvania, honoured long time sales rep Harvey Raymer of Rafales Sales Agency in Montreal with the company’s Bob Gelman Lifetime Achievement Award. Presented at the MCEE Show in Montreal April 22, Silverman noted that Rafales is the only rep organization to win the company’s Outstanding Sales Award three years in a row. Shaun Desroches has been appointed to the po-


Companies Viessmann Manufacturing Co., Waterloo, Ont. has announced the winners of its MAX Sales Awards for the 2014 sales year. The MAX Awards (denoting Marketing, Accomplishment and Excellence) are presented annually to the top two Viessmann sales representatives in Canada. First place went to Altatech Agencies of Stony Plain, Alta. Second place went to Pat Hayes, Viessmann Manufacturing Inc., southwest Ontario. ECCO Supply, Langley, B.C. has entered into a

Viessmann’s Ken Webster and Armin Fleck, left and Harald Prell, right, flank, from left, Altatech’s

Rob Cox, Kris Popadynetz, Glen DeLancey and Shawn Wiebe.

From left, Ken Webster, Armin Fleck, Pat Hayes and Harald Prell


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

sition of senior vice president, sales and marketing, for Franke Kindred Canada Ltd., Midland, Ont. Beckett Evans, son of Mark Evans, director of sales – Canada for Viega, Wichita, Kansas, was selected as one of the five finalists in the World Plumbing Day poster contest with this poster. Each year the World Plumbing Council holds an international poster competition with applicants from all over the world. M&G DuraVent,Vacaville, Calif., announces the retirement of John Jacklich after 56 years with the company, serving in R&D, sales and as president. Brent Cornelissen, Oakville John Stamping and Bending Ltd., Jacklich Oakville, Ont., was elected president

strategic agreement with the Loren Cook Company, Springfield, Missouri, to be the exclusive B.C. distributor of the company’s fans, blowers, gravity vents, laboratory exhaust systems, and energy recovery ventilators. Stelpro, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que., has been selected to join the 2015 list of the 50 Best Managed Companies in Canada, thanks to a business plan focused on growth, product quality and improvement in the productivity of its facilities. Provincial Heating & Cooling, Winnipeg, has received the distinction of being Canada’s first ever Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer to win the company’s p r e s t i g i o u s P r e s i d e n t ’s Award. Carrier’s highest honour is awarded annually to dealers who exemplify t h e b r a n d ’s m o d e l f o r Riobel, Montreal, operational excellence, business will sponsor veteffectiveness and delivering the eran Canadian best in cutting-edge technology Indy car racer Alex to consumers. Tagliani for the AquaMotion Inc., 2015 season. Warwick, Rhode Island, a pump

INDEX to ADVERTISERS Air Ease ...................................................... 43 Arkema......................................................... 9 Armstrong Air ............................................. 35 Bibby Ste. Croix .................................... 13, 15 Bradford White ........................................... 19 Bristol Sinks ................................................ 18 Bryant Canada ............................................ 31 Cash Acme ................................................. 11 Chrysler ........................................................ 2 Ciphex Roadshow ..................................... 36+ Delta Faucet.................................................. 8 Fieldpiece.................................................... 27 General Pipe Cleaners ................................. 10 Giant Inc. .................................................... 14 Hilmor ........................................................ 38 Holdrite ...................................................... 45 IBC Boilers .................................................... 4 IESO.......................................................... 36*

of the Ontario Region of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating, replacing Dennis Costello of Flocor, Stoney Creek, Ont., at the group’s annual meeting in Niagara Falls May 23. MCA Saskatchewan named its board of directors for 2015–2016 at its annual general meeting on March 12. Serving as president is Luc Kadziolka of Mr. Plumber, Prince Albert; first vice-president is Scott Kerr of C & E Mechanical Inc., Moose Jaw; and second vice-president is Kim Skjonsby of Mid City Plumbing & Heating Inc., Estevan. Robert Bosch LLC, Londonderry, New Hampshire, has named Vitor Gregorio as North America region Vitor president, replacing Richard Soper Gregorio who has retired.

From left, Carrier president Chris Nelson, Brent Garrioch, Provincial owners Rob and Tracy Dill, Paul Vavignon and David Meyers celebrate winning Carrier’s President’s Award. manufacturer, has appointed Ontor Ltd., Toronto, as their representative for Canada. Big Ass Solutions, Lexington, Kentucky, has opened a Canadian office in Mississauga, Ont. to distribute its Big Ass ventilation fans. The Master Group, Boucherville, Que., has opened a new branch at 190 Alison Blvd., Unit 11. Fredericton, N.B. Denis Violette has been named branch director.

IPEX ............................................................ 32 Liberty Pumps ............................................. 26 Mitsubishi Electric ....................................... 47 Mobilio ......................................................... 5 Napoleon .................................................... 28 Navien .......................................................... 7 Plumbing & HVAC..................................... 33+ Redmond Williams .................................... 33* RIDGID........................................................ 48 Riobel ......................................................... 22 Saniflo ........................................................ 20 Success Group International ........................ 42 Unico Systems............................................. 37 Viega .......................................................... 30 Viessmann .................................................. 24 Zoeller ........................................................ 39 Zurn Industries ............................................ 23 * Ontario only

+ outside Ontario

Q Coming Events

Whisky and education at HRAI conference

Other sessions that day will cover topics such as the changing face of refrigeration and air conditioning under new climate change regulations, key trends affecting construction spending, the future of heating equipment efficiencies and provincial code harmonization, the new EnerGuide Rating System for Homes, building a national geothermal organization, IAQ challenges and quality installations. As well, the contractors, manufacturers and wholesalers divisions will hold their annual general meetings. Day two will be another busy day, beginning with a breakfast session with business advisor Greg Weatherdon

Marketplace, will explain the use Google and social media to get on the path to increased revenue, customer engagement and profit. The event ends that evening with the Chairman’s Reception and Banquet. For more information, visit or call 1-800-267-2231.

The Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) will hold its 47th Annual General Meeting and Conference in Windsor, Ont. Aug. 26-28. The event, to be held at Caesars Windsor, includes a full slate of speakers, educational seminars and other activities. However, one of the big attractions for most attendees will be a reception and fun night of whisky tasting, dining and learning about Prohibition and whisky running at the Canadian Club (Whisky) Brand Centre on Aug. 27. The event kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 26 with the annual HRAI industry briefing and annual report, followed by a reception. Bright and early the following day, the opening breakfast will feature keynote speaker Michael Hyatt, a business commentator for CBC News Network and one of the new “dragons” on CBC’s Next Generation Dragon’s Den.

One of the big attractions will be a reception and night of whisky tasting, dining and learning about Prohibition and whisky running at the Canadian Club (Whisky) Brand Centre.

AUG. 26-19:

who will ask: ”Would you buy your company?” An industry panel session will allow both experts and participants to share ideas about the HVACR supply chain. In the afternoon, Mike Dover, author of Wikibrands: Reinventing Your Company in a Customer-Driven


Calendar HRAI Annual Meeting and Conference, Caesars Windsor, Windsor, Ont. Please visit or call 1-800-267-2231.

NOV. 16-19: MCA Canada’s 74th Annual National Conference, Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa, Palm Springs, Calif. Visit or call (613) 232-0492.

DEC. 2-4: Construct Canada, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, Toronto. Visit or call (416) 512-0203.

May/June 2015 – Plumbing & HVAC


Q Shop Management


sales person’s role Managing people and processes critical to success By Ron Coleman Nothing happens in business until we get a sale. Lots of sales with high margins are a good formula for success. But in the plumbing and HVAC business, it is hard to generate enough high margin sales. Competitive bidding tends towards the lowest margins, thus making it difficult to generate profits and repeat business. Building relationships with “A” type – the best – customers is the key to more sales and higher margins. Often this is the role of the owner/manager but, as time goes on, the owner/manager either doesn’t want to continue this role or the growth in the business makes it impossible for them to do so. The solution is to find “the right sales person.” This, of course, is easier said than done.

from one program to the other. Here are a few of the more common ones: • Maximizer ( - It has been around for a long time and is well regarded. It is available on a monthly fee paid annually. • Goldmine ( and ACT ( are similar to Maximizer in many ways. • Insightly ( - It is inexpensive and easy to set up. Good for smaller companies. • SugarCRM ( - more mid-range in price and features. • Salesforce ( - more expensive but very comprehensive. There are other programs available and some accounting packages work better with specific CRM programs. Check with the provider of your accounting program to see if they have any specific recommendations.

Getting started Managing the process There is more to sales then hiring a sales person and letting them “do their thing.” I believe the biggest mistake we make is in not managing our sales process from the get go. I have recently been working with a business that had virtually no control over their sales person. This caused major frustrations for all concerned, except for the sales person who enjoyed the freedom of virtually no accountability. As sales declined the company started to get concerned and we implemented controls and, when we did so, we met a lot of resistance. For too many years he had done his own thing. Here’s a good starting point. Can you answer yes to each of the following questions? • Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) program that is updated constantly by your sales people and is accessible to you? • Do you meet with your sales person/sales team weekly? a) To review outstanding quotes b) To establish their activity for the upcoming week c) To review their activities for the previous week d) To review sales to date and compare budget to actual. e) To provide whatever support they need to be successful • Do you provide ongoing sales training to your sales team? • Do you provide ongoing technical training for your sales people?

Customer relationship management programs There are a lot of CRM programs on the market. Do try to use one that integrates with your accounting program so that you can copy across your database


Plumbing & HVAC – May/June 2015

The most important thing is to start using a CRM program. It is virtually impossible to stay in control of the sales process without one. Also the use of such a program takes valuable information out of the head of your sales people and into a system. Apart from being able to provide better service to your customers, your sales people can’t hold you to ransom by withholding information from you if you have a dispute with them. In order to find the right sales person you need to have their duties and responsibilities established. This needs to be put down in writing so that you can make good decisions and have accountability. The Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Contractors Division (HRAI) has an excellent series called The Essential Employee Management Tool Kit. It is a suite of human resource programs and policies (in MS Word) that are considered essential tools to conduct sound employee management practices. Developed by human resources professionals, these programs are designed to assist the small to medium-size HVAC company follow a recognized human resource structure without the overhead. The tool kit includes recruiting, interviewing techniques, sample job descriptions, employee handbook and performance review guidelines. Contact Joanne Smith at or call 1-800-267-2231 ext. 259 for more information. I would strongly recommend to readers of this article to review the HRAI program. You can buy part or all of it as you need. The program does include a section on the role of the sales person. I have based the following points on it.

Spelling out the roles In order to effectively manage your sales process you need to ensure that the role of your sales person is

clearly spelled out. Here are the accountability factors: • Works with team to generate quality sales leads. • Follows up on leads and referrals in a timely manner. • Makes sales presentations to prospective customers. • Makes follow-up calls to customers after the installation. • Fills out weekly activity report. • Prices all sales in accordance with company pricing guidelines. • Ensures that all customer complaints are addressed promptly and in a fair and objective manner. • Assists in collection of disputed customer accounts. • Communicates well with all company employees. • Adheres to company policies including, but not limited to, professionalism and safety. • Has minimum absenteeism and arrives at appointments promptly. • Completes work within expected periods of time. • Represents the company in a prudent and ethical manner. • Performs other tasks as assigned. Manage your sales process like a construction project. Make sure that someone is overseeing the process and that timely and measurable outcomes are monitored. Remember the three M’s - Measure. Monitor. Manage. By investing your time and money in hiring the right person and managing the sales process, you will get more sales and higher margins. The key is to take control from day one and to stay in control. Keep having your meetings and develop a formal evaluation process (which you can also get from the HRAI program). One more tip: Never let your sales people use their personal cell phones for your business. You have no control over that phone number and will lose it when they leave. In part two of this article we will review ways of paying your sales team. Ronald Coleman is a Vancouverbased accountant, management consultant, author and educator specializing in the construction industry. He can be reached by e-mail at

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