Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

People

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

EPA names new chief of staff
On Aug. 2, the United States Environmental Protection Agency administrator Mike Leavitt named Rich McKeown as his new chief of staff. McKeown will replace Tom Gibson, who stepped down Aug. 7. McKeown has served as senior counselor to the administrator since joining the agency in November 2003. Since that time, McKeown has provided direction to EPA’s assistant and regional administrators and helped craft the administrator’s 500-day plan.

Malvern hires Asian rep
Dr. Ren Xu, a widely respected specialist in the field of particle technology, has joined Malvern Instruments as applications and technical support manager for the Asian region. An author of numerous publications and patents and a serving member of ISO and ASTM standards committees, he joins the Malvern team from Beckman Coulter’s particle characterization business, where he led the product development and applications functions. Dr. Xu’s appointment coincides with the inauguration of Malvern’s new direct sales operation in China, which will provide sales and support functions for the company’s range of laboratory-based particle characterization systems and rheology products.

Veljovic named to lead firm
Vladan Veljovic is the new president and chief executive officer of Spaans Babcock Inc. He’ll be responsible for all operations and business development of the company in North America while working out of the Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada office. Spaans Babcock, based in the Netherlands, offers a broad range of products and services for the municipal and industrial water and wastewater market.

Zhang to direct research at Ionics
Ionics Inc., has appointed Li Zhang to the firm’s vacant directorship of research and development for Ionics Corporate Research Center. Zhang, a development engineer at the wastewater treatment and analysis firm since 1989, will manage and coordinate Ionics’ R&D activities with the company’s product engineering, process engineering, sales and marketing divisions.

Director to speak at event
Melissa Johnson, appointed by President Bush as executive director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, is scheduled as keynote speaker at the three-day Aquatic Health Conference sponsored by the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). The conference runs from Oct. 3-5 in Atlanta and will focus on the needs of public health officials, aquatic directors and academic and industrial researchers. Johnson, who will kick off the inaugural event with her keynote address, “Be Physically Active Every Day: Take the President’s Challenge,” hopes to promote fitness through aquatics.

Lovejoy promotes within
Lovejoy Inc., of Downers Grove, Ill., announced two key promotions. Kevin Remack, formerly a product manager, was promoted to director of product management. The company reinstated this position in its executive lineup to better service its growing global clientele and diverse parts inventory. With 21 years of service at the company, Remack started as a machinist and worked up through the company ranks. In his new position, he will develop and oversee strategies for products that the company presently represents and could supply to customers in the future. Remack earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Chicago. John Ernst was promoted to national sales manager. Ernst has been employed by the company for 14 years. He started with the firm as a sales representative in the Mid-Atlantic region and was later promoted to the Northeast Division manager and then Eastern Division manager. As national sales manager, Ernst will direct and oversee the sales and marketing activities of the company’s products by U.S.-based representatives and the North American sales force.

NGWA honor goes to Kill
David Kill became the latest National Groundwater Association’s (NGWA) McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer. Kill is a regional market development manager for Goulds Pumps, ITT Industries. He’ll deliver a 90-minute lecture entitled “Well Efficiency is Not a Myth” at this year’s NGWA conference and exposition this November in Las Vegas. An employee of Goulds Pumps since 1996, Kill is a registered civil engineer in Minnesota and received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Minnesota. He has lectured on groundwater, water well design, and pump selection and application including several courses given by the University of Wisconsin Engineering Professionals Development Department. Initiated in 2000, the lecture series honors William McEllhiney, the founding president of the National Ground Water Association in 1948.

Charles receives sales post
Dynasonics, of Racine, Wis., introduced Ken Charles as its new sales account manager. His responsibilities will include representative/distributor management and field product support. He brings a wealth of instrumentation knowledge and representative management from previous experiences as regional sales manager, district sales manager and sales engineer. Charles earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Roberts heads water section
Dave Roberts, P.E., has joined Black & Veatch as its national practice leader for Instrumentation and Control (I&C) Services for the Water Americas Division. Roberts will also oversee control system professionals in U.S. branches from the company’s Sacramento office. In the newly created position, he’ll provide a centralized focus and direction for the division’s I&C services including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). He has nearly 20 years of technical and managerial experience in SCADA, instrumentation, control and electrical services for water and wastewater projects, having served as project manager for development of a raw-water SCADA system master plan for the Santa Clara Valley Water District and project manager for the Duff Water Treatment plant automation upgrade for the Medford (Ore.) Water Commission. A member of the American Water Works Association, Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in engineering from the University of California-Davis.

Key desalination expert succumbs to cancer
Kenneth Frank Jackson, a key contributor in the development of production size “spiral wound” modules utilized in reverse osmosis membranes for desalination died after a short battle with cancer on Feb. 18, 2004. He was 50 years old. Developing custom, spiral-wound RO membranes for end users of the industry, Jackson was innovative in the adaptation of computer technology to the RO membrane development and quality control process. He is survived by his wife Marie, four children; Christopher, Gregory, Cameron and Emily, their spouses, and four grandchildren. All who knew Ken Jackson admired his personal and professional integrity and his dedication to improving water quality technologies and capabilities.

Ask the Expert

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Question: We were referred to your magazine as a source for water information and do hope you can help! Our family just relocated to Nevada and we find the tap water horrendous compared to what we were accustomed to in New Jersey. Apparently this is what people mean when they refer to hard water—metallic tasting, surface spotting and all. Neighbors advised that we’d be best off with a reverse osmosis (RO) system and we began investigating such a purchase. We’re confused by the inconsistencies in guarantees and warranties. Some units state they remove selenium, for example, yet others don’t even mention that substance. Other units say they remove cadmium; still others do not.  In short, we’re at a loss as to how to comparison shop when there seem to be no universal standards. What do these labels mean, and why are they all referring to different substances? Any help you can offer will be most appreciated!

Stefanie and Steven Miller
Henderson, Nevada

Answer: Your question is not unique to homeowners, as dealers themselves often need clarification on exactly the same issues. First and foremost, according to Hal Voznick of Vertex Water Products, Montclaire, Calif., a standard RO system removes 95% of all dissolved minerals. Many residential units are certified by the WQA as doing precisely that or labeled as having met the ANSI standard: California law states that no manufacturer may claim to remove a specific contaminant—selenium, for example—without outside tests proving the actual capabilities of that particular system when handling that particular substance. Other states have similar statutes. Third-party testing services are available from many respected labs, notably the WQA, NSF and UL. There are lots of potential contaminants, and each requires an individual test, which is both time consuming and expensive.

As a result, most manufacturers pick and choose which testing to perform based on their geographic sales area. If there is a known contaminant in the region—copper, for example, is common in the southwest—the manufacturer will purchase testing for that substance to have the marketing advantage of being able to claim on the unit itself that it has been proved to effectively and efficiently reduce copper. If there is no known radium in the area where this RO system is retailed, the manufacturer has little incentive to engage in the testing for that particular substance.

The lack of a testing label regarding  a particular substance doesn’t mean the RO system doesn’t remove that substance—it means the manufacturer has not had its performance in regard to that particular substance independently verified through lab testing. Dealers and other water professionals will know what local conditions are, and the municipal water authorities usually can provide many informative pamphlets for consumers, who can then comparison shop the units with more expertise.

Global Spotlight

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

The Instrumentation Systems and Automation Society (ISA) launched its Certified Industrial Maintenance Mechanics (CIMM) program with a section on its web-site, www. isa.org/cimm. Features include information about this new education effort for industrial maintenance mechanics and a detailed handbook. The first CIMM exam is scheduled for Oct. 7 in Houston at ISA EXPO 2004. 💧

Stockholders of Cima Labs Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., approved a merger in mid-June between it and Cephalon Inc., which is pending a review by the Federal Trade Commission. 💧

Carlsbad, Calif.’s JMAR Technologies Inc. joined forces with San Diego’s the LXT Group to produce a pathogen early-warning system for the drinking water industry.  BioSentry™ provides continuous, real-time surveillance, detection and identification of waterborne microorganisms. 💧

Vermont Pure Holding sales for the second quarter (ended April 30) increased 11 percent to $13.1 million over the same period in 2003, compared to a seven percent rise for the prior six months to $25.2 million. The increase was attributed to sales of coffee products while bottled water products were off slightly. 💧

Two of the world’s leading experts on hospital waterborne infection, Elias J. Anaissie, MD, and Janet E. Stout, Ph.D, called for increased infection control initiatives in a special symposium sponsored June 8 by filtration industry leader Pall Corp., of East Hills, N.Y., at the annual conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology (APIC) in Phoenix, Ariz. 💧

EIP Associates, a Sacramento, Calif.-based consulting firm, has released a survey of California water agencies and districts showing that 58 percent have seen conservation programs can improve water quality by reducing urban water runoff that may contain contaminants. 💧

Southern California-based Topway Global Inc., has opened a new Houston, Tex., branch office. TGI manufactures residential and commercial RO, POU filters, water softeners and other POE systems.💧

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble’s PuR® water purifier won the International Chamber of Commerce World Business Award in support of the Millennium Development Goals at a June event in Marrakech, Morocco. These are the first global business awards to recognize the role business can play in implementation of the UN’s targets for reducing poverty worldwide by 2015—among those halving the number of people without access to potable water and proper sanitation.💧

Waterite Technologies Inc., has opened a new head office and plant facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company designs, manufactures and assembles RO systems in the new 20,000-square-foot facility. 💧


USFilter to provide NYC plant upgrade
New York City has installed a Hydro-Clear® rapid sand filter and other equipment from USFilter Zimpro Products, at its Reed Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant. The improvements are part of a long-term, multi-million dollar watershed protection program designed to safeguard the city’s drinking water supply through upgrades to regionally public- and privately owned plants. Plants must now comply with new design, construction and operation standards detailed in the recent Watershed Memorandum of Agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency, the city, state and environmentalists.

Nelsen Corp. opens AZ facility
The Nelsen Corporation has opened a distribution warehouse in Phoenix, Ariz. Carrying more than 4,000 products from Fleck, Structural, Autotrol, Clack, Purolite and other water-related vendors, the facility’s opening marks the 50th anniversary of the firm. The company is headquartered in Akron, Ohio.

LANXESS starts operating independently
LANXESS, the future company where the Bayer Group will combine almost all areas of its chemicals business and parts of its polymers activities, began operating as an independent unit on July 1. While the structure only applies internally at this time, LANXESS is scheduled to be listed on the stock exchange at the beginning of 2005, Bayer reported. Until the stock market flotation, the company will operate under the umbrella of the Bayer AG holding company and will likely be one of the leading chemicals companies in Europe.

Ultrafiltration in Alameda County
Koch Membrane Systems Inc., has been commissioned to start up a 10-million-gallon-per-day ultrafiltration plant for the Alameda County Water District in Fremont, Calif. Designed by Montgomery Watson Harza and constructed by C. Overaa & Co., the plant will be used to treat both clarified and raw water from the South Bay Aqueduct. KMS was awarded the contract after a successful six-month pilot test performed at the Mission San Jose WTP on raw and clarified water from the South Bay Aqueduct. During the pilot pretreatment trials, ferric chloride, powdered activated carbon and various polymers were added to both raw and clarified water. The KMS membranes were selected in part due to their ability to achieve 4-log removal of Crytosporidium, Giardia and viruses, as well as meeting Title 22 regulations on surface water treatment.

L.J. Star acquires Tank Components
Twinsburg, Ohio-based L.J. Star Inc., a provider of industrial process observation equipment, has announced plans to purchase the assets of Tank Components, Inc. TCI, a Missouri-based manufacturer of vessel components for use in the pharmaceutical and biotech processing industries, will continue its practice of offering of vessel components and accessories while not competing in the vessel fabrication market. According to L.J. Star, the company will provide corporate support to allow TCI to increase its operations, broaden its product base and continue deliveries while allowing the parent company to work closer with manufacturing facilities in the process industries.

Demand for activated carbon growing
The world demand for activated carbon is forecast to expand 5.3 percent annually to over one million metric tons in 2007, according to a report titled World Activated Carbon released in July by the Freedonia Group, a consulting firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. With a projected value of $1.2 billion, the expected growth will be fastest in mature markets like the United States and Western Europe. Emerging industrial markets in Asia and smaller markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa are poised for growth as well as increasing industrial output and a greater emphasis on environmental issues in developing countries will drive these gains.

Filter netting plant certified
Det Norske Veritas Certification Inc. announced in mid-June that the Austin, Texas, manufacturing facility of Delstar Technologies Inc. had met requirements for ISO 9001:2000 certification, underscoring its commitment to quality in design, manufacture and distribution of Naltex® netting products produced there. Middletown, Del.-based Delstar is a custom manufacturer of components used in filtration, automotive, healthcare, industrial, food, electronics and textile markets. Products include apertured films, meltblown nonwovens, laminate composites and extruded cores, tubes and machined parts. Other facilities are located in Richland, Pa., El Cajon, Calif., Bristol, England, and Shanghai, China.

Web-based firm expands
Prescott, Ariz.-based e-FoodSafety. com Inc. has purchased ozone equipment and tools from NET Systems Inc., of Bainbridge Island, Wash., for $1.5 million. This will enable e-FoodSafety.com to reach full-scale production capacity at its new California facility that uses ozone-treated water to remove viruses and bacteria from fruits and vegetables to extend their freshness and shelf-life for grocery store chains and restaurants. e-FoodSafety.com acquired Knock-Out Technologies Ltd. in May and is a licensed distributor of the Tru-Pure Ozone Technologies product line.

Systems get final check-up
Pure H20 Bio-Technologies Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., has completed its new all-stainless steel medical and residential system. Model 7000, designed to assist hospitals worldwide in the treatment of patients with weakened immunity, patients undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients, HIV patients and others with compromised immune systems. The system is equipped with a turbine flow meter with LED status indicator for easier operating control as well as safety features. 

International

The Eclox receives Queen’s Award
The Eclox Water Test Kit has been given the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition for the portable unit’s contribution to military and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Originally developed for the British Ministry of Defense, the kits, which test for chemical contamination of water in about four minutes, have been used by military organizations around the world, and are now being adapted by water utilities as a safeguard against terrorism. Eclox was presented with the honor by the Duke of York at a ceremony on June 28 at Severn Trent Services in Didcot, England. The ceremony included a demonstration of the kits by STS Director of Instrumentation Rhys Lewis (pictured left).

Megola inks Asian deal
Megola Inc., of Corunna, Ontario, a leading Canadian solution provider in physical water treatment, microbiological control, wastewater treatment and air purification, has signed a non-exclusive distribution agreement with Dalian Bingshan H2O3 Environmental Solutions Co. Ltd., a member of the Bingshan Group, to distribute Megola’s ScaleGuard product line throughout Asia. The agreement also calls for H2O3’s ozone machines to be distributed by Megola in conjunction with ScaleGuard products in North America.

Windsor selects Trojan UV for wastewater treatment
Windsor, in Ontario, Canada, has selected Trojan Technologies Inc., to supply ultraviolet wastewater treatment equipment for the upgrade and expansion of the Lou Romano Water Reclamation Plant on the city’s west side. Windsor is replacing chlorination with UV disinfection because it considers the use of chlorine to be a community liability and concerns over the plant being the largest primary treatment plant discharging directly into the Great Lakes basin. A second Windsor facility, the Little River Pollution Control Plant, has been using UV since 1989. The current project is valued at between (US)$2.4 and $3.3 million.

POU coolers spread across Europe
According to Zenith International, POU water coolers have quadrupled in popularity in the western European market over the past four years, with the number of units installed jumping 35 percent in 2003. The United Kingdom remains the largest national market in the region, accounting for 41 percent of all POU units, with Zenith tracking more than 60 companies operating in Britain. Strong demand for POU coolers has been bolstered by economic stability in the region and was fueled by a hot summer in 2003 combined with intensified sales and marketing activity, according to the firm.

Viewpoint

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Autumn Musings

This being our International issue, the staff here at WC&P has been immersed in water research from around the world. The statistics we’ve come across are fascinating in and of themselves. According to Water Aid (an international organization dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people), 40 billion working hours are lost each year in Africa to the need to carry water… Statistics Canada reports sales of inground pools in their country were up 35 percent in 2002…are you curious as to how much of Kuwait’s freshwater supply is still contaminated with oil spilled by Iraqi forces during the Gulf War? Forty percent according to Harper’s Index. Several almanacs cite that New York City has the world’s largest water supply system (derived from 1.2 million acres of watershed land) serving over nine million customers with 1.4 billion gallons daily while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s statistics (gathered from 30 member countries and more than 70 affiliate nations) show a return of $8.70 for every dollar invested in water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa—an impressive ROI in any language.

What are we to make of all this? The answers are as varied as the statistics themselves. Some suppliers have expanded into the global marketplace; others think the time to broaden local sales is now. Is it the time for statewide expansion of your efforts? Should you sell your products internationally? Does your products brochure need to be translated into more than one language when you reprint it this year?

No magazine can answer those questions for your individual business, but we can give you the information that enables you to make informed decisions on what direction to head into. While you might not see a role for your company in meeting the United Nations water and sanitation initiatives, that may be because there is plenty of opportunity right in your own backyard, whether that is in California or Moscow. The summer bred sales doldrums in some areas, drove business to new heights in others, and now the fall marketing season truly gets into gear.

Summer’s end brought one story to the forefront—the results of a University of Maryland Dental School study which found that diet soda causes the same tooth decay as the sugared varieties of pop. The National Soft Drink Association immediately pointed out flaws in the study which made the results questionable. Surely we haven’t heard the end of this one, but in the meantime water stocks got a small bump up—an unintended good consequence!

Now the autumn trade shows begin and this year many are bigger and better than ever. In addition to what these events can do for your bottom line (see Dave Martin’s article on page 20 of this issue), the synergy created at gatherings of industry professionals inspires, educates and enlightens in ways nothing else can.

While no single organization keeps hard statistics on trade show attendance, there are many that do chart the profile of the average conference attendee. Whether the industry is beef or computers, water or aviation, the overwhelming consensus is that while companies may be more selective in which and how many employees they send to shows, those attending are both better prepared and more eager to avail themselves of every opportunity that such events offer. As a result, the overall quality of every aspect of the trade show experience has improved and expanded.

Yes, the Internet offers opportunities to access information from the comfort of your home or office and travel is an expense many independents find hard to justify. Yet tradeshows offer workshops among your peers, the opportunity to interface with decision makers at every level of the industry and seminars sharing the cutting edge of science, technology and marketing. The experience of being submerged in the newest, best and brightest in the world of water will not be something you easily forget. Make the connection. You’ll be glad you did.

You’ll find copies of WC&P at all the major industry gatherings, and many of our staff and contributing authors as well. Although we cannot attend every show, the magazine can—and does. See our Upcoming Events pages for complete details of industry activities and where we’ll cross paths.

Karen R. Smith
WC&P Executive Editor

Adenovirus—Balancing Water Treatment Challenges

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

By Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, Ph.D.

Human adenoviruses are wide spread in the environment and frequently associated with disease, including respiratory infections, conjunctivitis and gastroenteritis. Although the virus is listed as a priority contaminant on the U.S. EPA Contaminant Candidate List (CCL), little is known about its presence in source or treated drinking waters. We do know that adenovirus has unique characteristics of survival helping it to persist in the environment and there is justified concern over the potential for waterborne adenovirus disease transmission.

Properties of Adenovirus
Adenoviruses are medium-sized, ranging from about 90-100 nm in diameter. They have a characteristic icosohedral (a solid with 20 plane surfaces) shape and a double-stranded DNA genome—the only double stranded human DNA virus known to be waterborne. Currently there are 51 known serotypes, most of which are associated with respiratory illnesses and cold-like symptoms. First recognized in an outbreak of acute respiratory disease among military recruits during World War II, the virus has since been identified as the cause of 5 percent of acute respiratory disease in children and 10 percent of infantile diarrhea.

Adenoviruses are primarily transmitted via direct contact between persons, or fecal-oral transmission, and sometimes via water. Although more commonly associated with recreational waters, they have been linked to two recent drinking water outbreaks of gastroenteritis4,8. Most (95 percent) of the adenoviruses isolated from ill patients belong to a few distinct serotypes. In decreasing order of prevalence, they are: 2, 41, 7, 3, 5, 40, 4, 31, 21, and 8. Acute respiratory disease is common with adenovirus serotypes 4 and 7 and has been identified primarily in military recruits and less frequently in civilian populations. Types 2 and 5 cause acute respiratory illness in early childhood and even infect children during the first few months of life. Type 3 causes acute pharyngoconjunctival fever, primarily in older children and adults, and has been identified in outbreaks in summer camps and swimming pools. Sporadic infections and occasional outbreaks of conjunctivitis have been linked to adenovirus serotypes 8, 19, and 37. Types 40 and 41 are most commonly associated with gastroenteritis (i.e., diarrhea) and cause infections primarily in children. The enteric adenoviruses are estimated to cause between 4-20 percent of gastroenteritis in young children, who may excrete 1011 adenovirus particles/g feces during infection.

Various serotypes of adenoviruses are hardy survivors outside their host cells and have been shown to persist for weeks on environmental surfaces. They have the ability to be transmitted by both inhalation and ingestion routes, raising the question of whether or not aerosols, such as those produced during showering, could be a significant transmission route of respiratory disease causing viruses present in water.

Water treatment: two steps forward, one step back
The use of disinfectants for the microbial treatment of public water supplies has been listed as one of the greatest public health advances of the 20th century. Currently, chlorination is the most widely used disinfectant in the United States and has been vital for minimizing the microbial waterborne disease scourges of the past (i.e., cholera, typhoid, bacterial dysentery, etc.). A major problem, however, is that chlorine can combine with contaminants naturally present in source waters (i.e., organic matter and bromine), producing harmful disinfection by-products (DBPs) that are linked with or suspected to cause a variety of adverse human health effects, from reproductive disorders to cancer. Conventional chlorine disinfection of public water supplies is not an effective barrier for human protozoan pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, which are major waterborne pathogens. Ultraviolet light irradiation (UV) can effectively inactivate these hard to kill protozoa, without producing harmful disinfection byproducts. However, adenoviruses pose a new challenge.

Adenovirus tend to survive longer than other enteric viruses in surface and tap waters1. In addition, they are the most UV-light resistant waterborne agent identified to date2. For example, to achieve a four-log (i.e., 99.99%) inactivation of adenovirus type 40, researchers have found that a UV dose of up to 226 mW/cm2 is required, much greater than the dose required for poliovirus, hepatitis A virus or Cryptosporidium6. In addition, research suggests that adeno-viruses are capable of repairing the damage caused by irradiation and reverting back to an active, reproductive state. It is thought that during UV-light disinfection, only one strand of the double-stranded nucleic acid is damaged. Therefore, the other strand, presumably still intact, can serve as a template for repair by the host cell enzymes. In other words, the virus is able to genetically “convince” the cell it has invaded to recognize UV-damaged sites and fix them.

Occurrence of Waterborne Adenovirus
There are few studies evaluating the occurrence of adenoviruses in water, however, available data suggests that they are more common in sewage and sewage—contaminated surface waters than enteroviruses7. Although enteroviruses have served as the primary enteric virus indicator in previous studies of environmental contamination, survival, and treatment, adenoviruses occur in primary sewage at 10-fold their concentration. Recent studies have also found significant adenovirus levels in coastal waters3.

Research conducted in South Africa involved the collection of 204 treated drinking water (with complete conventional treatment and chlorine disinfection) and 102 raw water samples at two drinking water treatment plants7. Over 4 percent of the treated and 12 percent of the raw waters were found contaminated with infectious adenovirus. The occurrence of adenoviruses in treated tap water from a poor quality raw water source in Korea has also been recently reported5. In this study, human adenoviruses were present in approximately 39 percent of the treated water samples. Because low levels of adenoviruses in drinking water could result in significant risks of infection and mortality in sensitive sub-populations, any detectable level of infectious adenoviruses is a public health concern.

Preventative Approaches
The majority of adenovirus infections are mild and self-limiting. In fact, most of us have been infected by the time we reach the age of 10. For some, the infection is debilitating or severe. Immunocompromised populations (i.e., cancer chemotherapy patients, AIDS patients and organ transplant patients) may experience mortalities of 50 percent or more following infection. There is no treatment for adenovirus infections, only supportive therapies for treating symptoms and potential complications. Although vaccines against types 4 and 7 have been developed and previously administered to military recruits, widespread vaccines against multiple adenovirus serotypes are not available.

Adenovirus infections are highly contagious. However, outbreaks involving recreational water exposures via swimming pools can be prevented by maintaining adequate chlorine levels while increased hand-washing and hygiene control can help reduce surface and person-to-person transmission. In addition, levels of chlorine used in conventional water treatment are effective for inactivating the virus. Through proper management of drinking water treatment methods, waterborne adenovirus infections should be minimal.

Future Concerns
A foreseeable concern is that as water utilities utilize UV light treatment for control of protozoan pathogens adenoviruses will become one of the treatment-controlling microbes. In addition, UV light disinfection may be more practical treatment for many small and medium sized drinking water utilities for compliance with the U.S. EPA proposed Groundwater Treatment Rule. Currently, scientists know little about the occurrence of adenoviruses in surface waters of the United States and even less about their presence in groundwater. Therefore, data are needed specifically on the occurrence and concentration of adenoviruses, in a variety of source waters, so that an overall strategy can be formulated to balance UV disinfection with other disinfection strategies (chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and ozone) for control of both microbes and disinfection by-products.

References

  1. Enriquez, C. E., C. J. Hurst, and C. P. Gerba. 1995. Survival of the enteric adenovirus-40 and adenovirus-41 in tap, sea and waste-water. Water Research. 29:2548-2553.
  2. Gerba, C. P., N. Nwachuku, and K. R. Riley. 2003. Disinfection resistance of waterborne pathogens on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Contaminant Candidate List (CCL). Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology 52:81-94.
  3. Kukkula, M., P. Arstila, M. L. Klossner, L. Maunula, C. H. Bonsdorff, and P. Jaatine. 1997. Waterborne outbreak of viral gastroenteritis. Scandanavian Journal of Infectious Diseases. 29:415-418.
  4. Lee, S. H., and S. J. Kim. 2002. Detection of infectious enteroviruses and adenoviruses in tap water in urban areas in Korea. Water Research. 36:248-256.
  5. Thurston-Enriquez, J. A., C. N. Haas, J. Jacangelo, K. Riley and C. P. Gerba. 2003. Inactivation of feline calicivirus and adenovirus type 40 by UV radiation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 69:577-582.
  6. van Heerden, J., M. M. Ehlers, W. B. Van Zyl, and W. O.K Grabow. 2003. Incidence of adenoviruses in raw and treated water. Water Research. 37:3704-3708.
  7. Villena, C., R. Gabrieli, R. M. Pinto, S. Guix, D. Donia, E. Buonomo, L. Palombi, F. Cenko, S. Bino, A. Bosch, and M. Divizia. 2003. A large infantile gastroenteritis outbreak in Albania caused by multiple emerging rotavirus genotypes. Epidemiology and Infection. 131:1105-1110.

About the author
Dr. Kelly A. Reynolds is a research scientist at the University of Arizona with a focus on development of rapid methods for detecting human pathogenic viruses in drinking water. She holds a master of science degree in public health (MSPH) from the University of South Florida and doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arizona. Reynolds has also been a member of the WC&P Technical Review Committee since 1997.

Refrigerator Filters Unique Products, Unique Certification

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

By Rick Andrew

As the water treatment market in the United States matures, consumers are searching for more integrated water treatment solutions. Likewise, American consumers seek new appliances that have more features than the appliances they owned previously. A good indication of these trends includes several categories of integrated water treatment products which have emerged in recent years:

  • Filter faucets, which combine a filtered water pathway in addition to an unfiltered water pathway in the same kitchen faucet;
  • water-cooler based treatment systems, which add a variety of water treatment capabilities to water coolers including filtration, reverse osmosis and UV;
  • refrigerator filters, which provide cooled filtered water and ice made from filtered water on demand from the refrigerator.

These examples highlight the combined functionality and increase in product features that Americans crave, as well as the integrated solutions that water treatment manufacturers have provided in response to this market trend.

Each of these integrated water treatment products has its own nuances in terms of certification, each for different reasons. There is overlapping scope with drinking water treatment unit (DWTU) and non-DWTU standards in the cases of filter faucets and water-cooler based water treatment systems. With refrigerator filters, the nuances are more subtle logistical issues involved in testing a system that is contained within a refrigerator. This article will examine those logistical issues with testing of refrigerator filters, and the recent revisions to NSF/ANSI 53 that have been incorporated to address those issues.

Unique products
Refrigerator filters are unique because they are encased within an appliance that is primarily used for a different function. These filters are typically manufactured by familiar water treatment industry suppliers, and then integrated into the refrigerator by the appliance manufacturer. This integration can be complicated, because the refrigerator usually has a coil of tubing that serves to chill the water, a valve that delivers water to the water dispenser and ice maker, a flow controller and a water dispenser and ice maker. The filter is a system within this environment that provides the desired water treatment.
There are several specific issues that must be addressed in order to establish conformance of the filter system to NSF/ANSI Standard 53, given the scenario described above.

  • The tubing, water valve and flow controller contained within the refrigerator will have an impact on line pressure drop and therefore on flow rate through the filter system.
  • The flow controller is external to the filter system.
  • There are two pathways for filtered water: through the water dispenser and through the ice maker.

NSF and the DWTU Joint Committee recognized that this set of circumstances required new Standard language to be developed. NSF drafted a ballot proposal, which was recently approved and incorporated into Standard 53.

New Standard 53 language for refrigerator filters
This new language specifically addresses the unique aspects of typical refrigerator filter system manufacturing, as described above.

Standard 53 requires that chemical reduction testing be conducted at the maximum flow rate attainable with a 60 psig dynamic influent challenge pressure. For this reason, integral flow controllers are required for products that depend on a specific flow rate for their performance.

Because refrigerator filters typically do not have integral flow controllers, a new section 6.3.2 has been

added that allows flow controllers for refrigerator filters to be external to the system. Integral flow controllers are required for other filtration systems because of the risk of higher flow rates in the field than those tested for conformance to the Standard, if the system is installed without the flow controller. However, refrigerator filters are constructed such that they cannot be used unless they are installed in a refrigerator, which has the required flow controller within it. There is no risk of refrigerator filter systems being used by consumers without the flow controller, as there is with other types of filtration systems.

The fact that flow controllers are typically included in the refrigerator, external to the refrigerator filter system, creates an issue when conducting contaminant reduction testing. In order to incorporate the flow controller, the entire refrigerator would need to be plumbed in to the test stand in the laboratory.

Plumbing in an entire refrigerator when conducting contaminant reduction testing would also take into account the impact on line pressure drop and flow rate of the tubing, water valve, and flow controller contained within the refrigerator.

However, utilizing entire refrigerators is impractical. They are large and take up an excessive amount of space in the laboratory. They are expensive to produce and ship. The water pathway becomes contaminated after chemical reduction testing has been conducted, so the refrigerator is not acceptable for usage after testing is completed without extensive reworking. Because of these impracticalities, additional new language has been added to the standard.

According to this new language, the flow rate for contaminant reduction testing of refrigerator filters may be controlled to the maximum flow rate attainable through the entire refrigerator and filter water flow path with a 60 psig dynamic influent challenge pressure. If the filter supplies water to both a water dispenser and an ice maker, the flow rate through both must be measured in order to determine which allows the maximum flow rate attainable.

In practical terms, this means that prior to conducting chemical reduction testing, a complete refrigerator with filter system is plumbed (in) to the test stand. The maximum flow rate attainable through the entire refrigerator and filtered water flow path with a 60 psig dynamic influent challenge pressure is measured. When the contaminant reduction testing is conducted, refrigerators are not required to be used. The filter systems may be plumbed directly to the test stand and challenged with a 60 psig dynamic influent challenge pressure. When tested this way, without the refrigerator flow controllers, the flow rate through the filter systems is controlled using needle valves (See Figure 1) to be equal to or greater than the measured flow rate. These needle valves are available in different sizes (1/4”, 1/2”, 3/4”, etc.), and are adjustable by turning a dial. This dial is a fine adjustment that opens and closes the valve, allowing for precise control of flow rate.

By conducting the testing in this manner, only one refrigerator is needed to establish the flow rate. The refrigerator is not contaminated because no contaminants are introduced when the flow rate is measured. The testing may then be conducted at or above this established flow rate by testing filter systems only and using needle valves to control the flow. This approach provides a simple, economical, convenient, practical and conservative solution to a complex testing issue.

Standards evolve to address marketplace changes
When I was a child, the refrigerator did two things: it kept food cold and it had a small freezer at the top. Some readers may even remember the days of the ice box! Today, a high end refrigerator keeps food cold, has a freezer, alarms when the door is left open, provides humidity controlled vegetable storage, has electronic programmable temperature controls and delivers filtered water and ice made from filtered water.

These developments in refrigeration and new applications for water treatment have necessitated the development of new DWTU standards language. Fortunately, these standards are living documents that are in a constant state of improvement by the hard-working Joint Committee and volunteer Task Groups. They are constantly being revised to address new developments, applications and technologies. The emergence of refrigerator water filtration systems serves as a good case study of how the DWTU standards evolve to address new applications.

Next time you visit an appliance or home improvement store, visit the refrigerator aisle. Take a look at the variety and prevalence of water filtration systems included with refrigerators. You will have a new appreciation for the issues involved in testing these filter systems and the development work on the DWTU standards that was required to help facilitate their testing.

About the author
Rick Andrew has been with NSF International for over five years, working with certification of residential drinking water products. He has been the Technical Manager of the Drinking Water Treatment Units Program for over two years. His previous experience was in the area of analytical and environmental chemistry consulting. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He can be reached at 1-800-NSF-MARK or email: Andrew@nsf.org

From Water Tec of Tucson to Water Tec International: How global expansion fuels growth at home

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

By Nate F. Searing, WC&P Managing Editor

Water Tec International Inc.
350 E. Irvington Road
Tucson, AZ 85714
Tel: (520) 790-3222: Fax: (520) 790-1514
Web: www.water-tec.com
Employees: 47
Management: Leigh DeGrave, president;
Richard DeGrave, vice president; Jennifer DeGrave, manager; Elizabeth Stark, Water Tec de México manager

In March 2001, WC&P sat down with Leigh DeGrave, head of Water Tec International Inc., to talk about how he had set his sights on the Mexican marketplace and Water Tec’s plans to reach into Central andSouth America. (See www.wcponline.com archives for the original DeGrave Q&A, March 2001).

Now more than three years later, we invited DeGrave back to take a look at the successes, large and small, that have made Water Tec de México an industry leader. From expanding the company’s reach to more than 340 dealers in Central America to opening new offices stateside, the Water Tec name is now stamped on products in every country from the United States south to Argentina.

“We ship to a lot of Central and South American countries, just about all of them actually… it’s a growing market,” DeGrave said.

Water Tec opened its first international office in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1997. With its manufacturing and corporate offices located in Tucson, Ariz., just 70 miles from the U.S-Mexico border, Water Tec today does about 50 percent of its business in Central and South America and the remainder in the United States.

Unlike many firms that have moved production to places like Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labor supply, Water Tec has manufactured its products in the same location for nearly 40 years.

“We’re backwards, keeping our manufacturing stateside and shipping across the border,” DeGrave said of the company’s organization. “Labor may be more expensive … we’re not always going to be the cheapest, but we are going to be the best.”

Today, Water Tec de Mexico operates offices and warehouse facilities in Guadalajara, Mexico City, Mérida, Monterrey and Hermisillo, and is cautiously optimistic about opening a new location in the country. The result, DeGrave said, is the ability to provide dealers in any part of Mexico with Water Tec products within 24 hours, a feat that few of their competitors can match.

The clout has also helped the company expand in the United States, opening additional offices in Phoenix and Las Vegas, as well as expanding its product lines by venturing into pool products throughout Latin America.

Most of the products, however, still fall into the commercial and light industrial category, DeGrave noted, with the majority of the company’s business coming from filtration, ultraviolet and RO equipment.

However, like many international businesses in Mexico, the future success of Water Tec hinges on its ability to take advantage of a residential market poised for explosive expansion.

“As you start to see more middle income consumers, you will start to see residential products become the norm,” DeGrave said. “The (current) goal in Mexico is to improve water quality, but more from a safety or health standpoint … but as the middle class becomes more prominent, a whole lot of the creature comforts that have had little or no prior presence in Mexico are really going to take off.”

And with name recognition and a reputation for quality already established in the new marketplace, Water Tec de México is a perfect spot to take advantage of that demand, DeGrave said.

To read more about Water Tech de México and its plans for future expansion, as well as DeGrave’s comments on the role of customer service and product education in international business, visit www.wcponline.com and click on the “Executive Q&A” button.

PipeLines

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

By Nate F. Searing, WC&P Managing Editor

AWWA offers wastewater/stormwater standards. Professionals working in wastewater or stormwater collection, treatment and disposal can purchase a custom collection of wastewater- and stormwater-related ASTM International standards directly from American Water Works Association. Compilation of ASTM Standards Relating to Wastewater and Storm-water includes 94 ASTM International standards specially selected by American Water Works Association and ASTM International for wastewater and stormwater service. The collection includes standards for culverts, storm drains, sewer pipes, joints, fittings, manholes, materials, installation and more.

Ohio WQA moves to Hamilton. The Ohio Water Quality Association moved its offices on July 28, complete with new telephone and fax numbers as follows: 3271 Springcrest Drive, Hamilton, OH 45011; Phone: (513) 895-0695; Fax: (513) 895-1739. The current toll-free number, (800) 537-6585 and email address, dan310@earthlink.net, will remain in use.

Iowa WQA meeting in January. The 2005 Iowa Water Quality Association meeting is set for Jan. 26-28 at the Valley West Inn in Des Moines. The annual meeting with legislators will kickoff the event on the 26th, followed by a banquet in the evening. January 27 will feature a series of seminars and the board meeting, concluding with a dinner theater. The 2005 Summer Meeting has been scheduled for June 5-7 at Crescent Beach at Okoboji. For more information on either event, call (515) 282-9303.

AWWA advocates for lead reduction. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is calling for a comprehensive nationwide approach to reduce lead exposure from all sources as well as increased investment in drinking water infrastructure. Testifying before the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, AWWA Past President Lynn Stovall highlighted a number of recommendations on the critical water-related issues facing the nation, including: a national lead reduction strategy, optimization of corrosion control, replacement of lead service lines and an independent study of Washington D.C. lead problems and legislative regulatory changes.

Priority list for Aquatech 2005 now online. The Priority System used to determine points for the Water Quality Association’s Exhibitor Priority List is now posted online. A company must be a member of WQA during the current year of the convention in the Manufacturer/Supplier category to be eligible for member exhibits’ space pricing. However, companies whose application forms were received after Aug. 6 have forfeited their priority standing. All space will now be assigned in the order in which Exhibit Space Application Forms and the required deposit were received.

Word-of-Mouth Is the Best Advertising for Blair Water Conditioning

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

By Nate F. Searing, WC&P Managing Editor

Founded in 1947 in Clearwater, Florida, Blair Water Conditioning has developed a reputation for quality that is echoed in hundreds of referrals each year. Those word-of-mouth recommendations have kept the business growing throughout the past two decades at lightning speed.

Now 57 years old, the company is eyeing the rest of Florida’s potential for its portable exchange tanks and services with an aggressive franchising plan. If the company’s penchant for referrals are any indication of Blair Water Conditioning’s future success, their first franchised office (opening in Pasco County next year) will not be their last.

The foundation for success
Blair Water Conditioning is set apart from its competitors by more than just its plans for growth: the most unique asset of the company is the man behind it, president Mark Gerhart. He began working for Blair in 1984 as a route driver making about $2.80 an hour.

Long established in Florida, Blair had never outgrown an 800-square-foot facility in Clearwater and catered to no more than 120 accounts. In 1989, Gerhart took advantage of an opportunity to buy the company. However, with such a small operation and a growing customer base he found himself working alone and managing all the operations of the company. He worked tirelessly completing deliveries, installations, plant operations and administrative duties. “I was working seven days a week, 14 hours a day,” Gerhart said. “My heart and soul were in the company, but I knew if I didn’t add some more people and start to expand that it would literally kill me.” To that end, when the company reached 600 accounts, Gerhart hired his first employee.

Today, Blair Water Conditioning employs six people servicing three counties and thousands of satisfied customers.

Expansion in Pinellas
More than 90 percent of Blair Water Conditioning’s business comes from residential consumers, with the remaining 10 percent in small commercial businesses. “Blair has really made a name for itself in being a local leader in residential water conditioning” Gerhart said. Exclusively servicing portable exchange tanks to provide these customers with conditioned water, the company features 10-inch stainless steel (no galvanization) tanks with a 60,000 grain capacity. For larger residential and commercial properties, Blair takes the unique approach of offering the 10-inch tanks in tandem or in series rather than larger tanks that are bulkier and more difficult to handle, Gerhart said.

“We do more than just provide the tanks; customers are paying for a quality service,” Gerhart said. That requires three trucks continuously on the road, providing scheduled service to about 150 customers each day.

Those trucks also serve as Blair Water Conditioning’s only form of traditional advertising. However, their marketing strategy expands far beyond the rolling billboards those vehicles represent.

Advertising without ads
Gerhart and Blair Water Conditioning have taken a unique approach to marketing their services. Other than a telephone listing in the phonebook, the company does not advertise through any traditional avenues and there are no salespeople on staff.

Instead, the company relies upon an aggressive qualified referral program where customers can receive several months of free service for directing new customers to the firm.

The result, Gerhart noted, is a word-of-mouth reputation that is second to none.

“With the program, our focus isn’t on where and how to best spend our advertising dollars. We can focus on providing quality services and let our products speak for themselves.”

In fact, when Blair Water Conditioning adds a new customer in a previously untapped neighborhood, the company picks up an average of six homes in the area within three months due to referrals from the initial customer.

“It’s pretty amazing to watch,” Gerhart said. “You deliver a tank to a new street and within a few months your truck is a common sight all over the neighborhood.”

Gerhart credits the qualified referral program, outstanding honest service and a great product for the rapid growth of Blair Water Conditioning. Since the late 1990’s, the company has maintained an average growth of about 40 new customers each month.

A model for success
For Gerhart, Blair Water Condition-ing’s current operation and organization structure is a model for success in the portable tank exchange industry. The company plans on expanding its regional success into a statewide operation.

Currently, Gerhart has licensed the Blair Water Conditioning name to his brother, Gregg Gerhart, and business partner Don Mesick, for a Pasco County-based office and has his sights set on the remainder of Florida. “I think we are in a really good position to move out to the rest of the state,” Mark Gerhart said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to grow our business to the ever-expanding population of the Sunshine State.”

Gerhart added that he plans to use their current operation, which moved into a 4,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in Safety Harbor, Florida, as a “mirror operation” for new franchises, taking their unique marketing strategies and reinforcing their commitment to customer service to trigger the phenomenal growth they’ve experienced thus far.

Conclusion
Whether it’s courting new customers or new franchisees, Blair Water Conditioning has taken the simple but effective approach of letting the quality of their products and services speak for themselves. The result is a company that is growing faster than most, and doing so with no advertising and the right combination of customer service and attention to detail.

If you are in Florida, be on the lookout for Blair Water Conditioning because chances are they are coming to your neighborhood soon. Odds are you’ll hear about them from a neighbor who swears by their service, and that’s just the way they like it.

Plumbing with PEX: A Complete Primer

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

By Dave Yates 

PVC can be a sticky situation. Today, PEX plumbing for residential and commercial applications is rapidly becoming the standard.

All too often, the fast pace of changes to technology and application techniques challenge and frustrate trade professionals. Have you ever repaired your automobile? Today, the dealership’s the only one with the $10,000 diagnostic device that looks like R2D2. A few years ago, just about anyone could install a home security system. But the level of sophistication today makes that one untouchable, too.  

When it comes to plumbing—whether for new construction or residential/light commercial retrofits—flexible PEX tubing is the fastest growing trend in the industry and refreshingly, it’s frustration-free. With some forethought about what you want to accomplish, you can run hot and cold water lines that snake with ease through small holes, between walls and around obstacles with no solder or open flames required, and no need for sticky solvents with long dry-times. This versatile and ultra-durable tubing puts the right technology into the hands of professionals. It’s a change for the better.

A molecular difference
PEX is cross-linked polyethylene tubing. It’s hardy stuff that can last more than a lifetime. The sophisticated cross-linking of the molecules is achieved by either chemical injection or electron bombardment during the manufacturing process, which gives the tubing enhanced strength. PEX-Al-PEX tubing goes one step further and adds a thin layer of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of PEX, which helps the coiled tubing hold its shape after installation. However, it’s also more difficult to work with because of the added rigidity.

Initially, PEX tubing was used chiefly for hydronic (hot water) heating systems in Europe. In the early 70s, WaterPEX was developed for use with potable water. Since that time, it has gained popularity and earned a reputation for reliability. PEX is available in a variety of colors in sizes ranging from 1/4” through 2”, in coils or rigid lengths. When manufactured for use in potable water systems, PEX must meet or exceed ANSI/NSF standard 61. All PEX designed for use with potable water must be marked “Potable” and bear the certification mark of the testing agency. And in Canada, PEX used for potable applications must be tested and certified to the Canadian Standard Association Standard B137.5.

Significant advantages
PEX tubing has grown increasingly popular because it often reduces labor costs, requiring less skill than systems using metal piping. Unlike plastic piping systems that use solvent cements to bond the fittings to piping, PEX systems employ a variety of crimp and compression joints that require no waiting period before applying full pressure.  

PEX has additional advantages as well: resistance against corrosion, tolerance to aggressive water, quiet flow, near elimination of “water hammer” noise, no solvents, glues, flux or soldering required, added freeze protection, long warranties, resistance to scale deposits or growth, ultra durability, fewer joints (lengths can “snake” for hundreds of feet), tubing is non-toxic, it is rated for direct burial in earth or concrete, it’s lightweight, relatively easy to repair kinks, balanced pressure and flow can be achieved when sized and installed properly.

Notable deficiences
PEX tubing has a few drawbacks, however. Ultraviolet rays from sunlight will degrade the tubing and it must not be stored or installed in areas subject to routine exposure. PEX expands at much greater rates than metallic piping systems do, so long hot water distribution runs can take on a life of their own! If PEX tubing isn’t given somewhere to grow when undergoing temperature changes, especially rapid ones, expansion noises can occur. You’ll need to purchase the tool utilized for assuring leak-free crimp ring, barbed or flared joints unless one can be borrowed or rented where you purchase the tubing.
Installation basics

There are two basic styles of PEX tubing installations: “homerun” and “flow-through.” In a homerun system, every fixture or faucet receives its own cold and/or hot water line, run to a central manifold. In most cases, that central manifold will include individual valves to cut off flow if service is required, a tremendous convenience for those middle-of-the-night or holiday emergencies.

The manifold’s hot and cold water inlets are larger in diameter than the fixture outlets, typically 3/4”, for helping balance the flow between fixtures. It is desirable to install the manifolds as close as practical to the incoming water service line and the water heater to ensure maximum flow rates. From the manifold outlets, sizing is based upon the individual fixture flow rates and that’s where some practical plumbing knowledge is required. For residential use, these water lines are often 3/8” or 1/2.” Length of tubing run between manifold and fixture, along with changes in elevation, will affect delivery pressures and gallon-per-minute flow rates. If the manifold must be remotely mounted (see photo), a hot water recirculating line can be added to ensure almost instantaneous hot water delivery at the fixtures.

A flow-through system is piped in the more traditional method using fittings cut into the main line as it runs past fixture branches. In flow-through systems, delivery pressures and flow rates can be adversely affected when fixtures are used simultaneously. Without careful attention to sizing and flow calculations, poor performance and scalding can become real issues.

A combined use of both manifold and flow-through systems offers the best economy. What you’ll want to do is consider which fixtures don’t require steady-state flow rates. For instance, laundry tub and washing machine connections can share a flow-through connection without adversely affecting either fixture. The same is true for a bathroom water closet and vanity, especially if these are closer to the source of hot water (limiting the wait for hot water while cold water in the pipe is pushed out). However, any bathing or shower module should be installed using the homerun method, greatly reducing the potential for scalding caused by sudden pressure imbalance when other fixtures are used.

WaterPEX applications
Hot water lines can be plumbed with red PEX for hot lines and blue PEX for cold water lines. Or, if color-coded piping is not needed, white WaterPEX can be installed—this would be more like having the whole installation piped in copper. Either brass or plastic fittings can be installed. Brass fittings are more traditional, however poly-alloy fittings usually cost less and are more chemically-resistant to some aggressive waters.  Also, poly-alloy fittings would be the best choice if the fitting needs to be buried.  

The WaterPEX CrimpRing system is easy to learn. The copper crimp ring is simply compressed around the tubing and fitting to make a tight fit. The finished connection can be rotated to make piping line up neatly without causing leaks. Connections can be made with wet water lines, impossible with copper sweat connections and difficult with some flare fittings.

The CrimpAll Tool Kit allows you to crimp 3/8”, 1/2”, and 3/4” sizes all in one kit and it costs just about as much as one single-fitting tool. Since most systems need at least two sizes of pipe (1/2” and 3/4”), this is a real value.    

Ease and flexibility
PEX is relatively flexible and allows for a lot of pushing and pulling. Should you accidentally kink the piping, gently warm the tubing with a heat gun until it softens and allows the kink to become smooth. A little bending back and forth, opposite to the kink, slowly allows the pipe to return to its original shape. Impressively simple to do, what actually happens is that the heat “reminds” the long strands of cross-linked molecules where they belong. Their “molecular memory” tells them that they need to resume their original shape. Since heat makes the plastic medium more fluid, the molecules rush to assume the position they had before being kinked. Allow the pipe to cool—visible as it regains the color of the unheated pipe around it—and the healing process is complete.

This simplicity of repair is not shared by PEX-Al-PEX, however, because of the internal aluminum layer. Once kinked, you’ll need to cut out the affected section and install a repair coupling. Crimp ring joints are sealed by use of a crimping tool to squeeze the copper rings around the barbed fitting and apply just the right amount of pressure on the PEX tubing. A “Go—No Go” tool indicates the correct tolerances (see photos).

When running PEX through wooden or metal studs, floor joists and plywood decking, oversize the hole drilled to ensure ease of movement without contacting sharp edges. Use the smooth plastic sleeves for minimizing wear or contact with sharp edges (especially important when running through metal studs). Steel plates should be placed over studs through which tubing passes to protect from puncture by drywall nails/screws and future picture hanging (see photos). If you can’t readily locate nailer plates, blank metal covers from standard two-inch by four-inch electrical boxes work very well and offer adequate resistance to screw or nail penetration.

A tubing uncoiler is a must if you’re going at this solo. Unless, of course, you enjoy frustration, untangling knots or have no fear of a tangled mass that resembles steroidal spaghetti. If you can’t borrow one and aren’t planning on a career in plumbing, one can be built using several scrap pieces of plywood or an electrical cable reel if it’s placed over a stationary pole and you’ve added casters to the reel so it can turn easily.

Although you can cut PEX tubing with a sharp pocket or carpet knife, it’s best to purchase an inexpensive cutting tool to ensure straight cuts with square shoulders. Remember that PEX has a memory and will snap back when cut, which can leave you or your assistant with a black eye! With all of the drilling and overhead work you’ll be doing, don’t forget to wear those safety glasses.

Keep PEX out of exterior walls, as you would any potable water line, when installing in areas that see winter freezing temperatures. Although PEX is more tolerant of freezing conditions than metal piping systems are, it too can crack or break if frozen while filled with liquid and stress is applied. Although, again, it’s fast and easy to fix and you can do it when the pipes are still wet. If you simply can’t avoid running in an exterior wall, make sure the insulation is tight between studs (no air gaps) and that the tubing is placed on the interior side of the insulation.  

Work smart, plumb safe.   

About the author

Dave Yates is a Master Plumber who owns and operates F. W. Behler, Inc., a plumbing, heating and air conditioning firm established in 1900, which is located in York, PA. He can be reached by phone at 717-843-4920 or by email: behler@blazenet.net or www.fwbehler.com

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