Building Management Hawaii August/September2013 - (Page 30)

Repiping with PEX New materials are changing how mechanical systems are installed and operate in today’s high rise buildings. By Kelly Zeek Plumbing E ver since plumbing started moving indoors in the late 18th century, we have not seen any major changes. Cast iron, galvanized steel and copper have really been the only materials used in plumbing until quite recently. You can’t blame plumbers for sticking with the tried and true ... plumbing is not a field that lends itself to experimentation. Yet new materials and practices are changing how mechanical systems are installed and operate in today’s high rise buildings. System Inspections With a high population of people living in high rise apartment and condo buildings, plumbers play an important role in keeping everything flowing in the right direction. In a high rise, mechanical systems should be inspected at least every seven years. Of course, how often can vary based on factors like the age of the building 30 August - September 2013 BMH and the type of piping materials. The older the building, the more often it should be inspected. The adage, “past performance is an indicator of future expectations” comes into play. Namely, if you have had to do work on the potable system in the past, be more vigilant in the present. Also, listen to your tenants. Complaints of things like musty smell, slow drains (on the waste water side) or hot water taking a long time to reach a fixture are indications of problems. A thorough mechanical system inspection can be worth its weight in gold. If a building has a central circulating hot water system and/or a central chilled water delivery system, there are literally miles of piping behind the walls. A circulated hot water system will generally have massive pumps, pressure piping and a host of mechanical components that push water to a rooftop storage tank and provide hot water in the correct pressure range throughout the building. All these components are in constant use 24/7 and are subject to wear and tear. A thorough inspection can find things like malfunctioning pressure reducing valves (PRVs), corroded or narrowing recirculation piping, and of course the bane of all plumbing systems, the leak. Plumbing leaks are among the most costly failures a building can face. Damage to the building and furnishings is often far more expensive than fixing the leak. Vigilance is key in keeping ahead of any potential catastrophes. This is not meant to keep you up at night, waiting for the failure of your building’s plumbing system. However, mitigating risk is a huge part of building management. The more you know about the your building’s mechanical systems, the better you will be able to control the risk factors and advise your AOAO and owners on the correct and most cost efficient course of action. Your plumbing service provider is the greatest asset you have in keeping your building’s mechanical systems in topflight operation. But be wary of anyone who is bent on scaring you into a course of action in which you’re uncomfortable. The Re-Pipe In your tenure, you may be faced with one of the most challenging repair/maintenance operations that will occur in the building’s lifespan– the re-pipe. There’s no sugar coating it. This will be a sizeable and invasive operation. A re-piping operation will not come as a surprise. There is usually a period of time where there’s an increase in small leaks throughout the potable water system. At some point, it makes more sense to replace the entire piping system than to have repairmen constantly in the building playing an endless game of “chase the leak.” The lifespan of copper and steel piping is generally about 40 to 50 years.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Building Management Hawaii August/September2013

ROOFING Top 3 Roof Savers
Mix It Up: cool roofing, wood shake and solar reflective shingles
Townhomes Cool Off From The Top Down
What’s Trending & Why? Smart and sunny solutions
White Out!
A Good Match: New roof gives local shopping center a fresh look.
Stone Meets Metal For Lasting Roofs
Project Complete: When a project goes right, everyone is happy.
PLUMBING Safe & Simple Drains
Project Repipe
Saved From Spots: Small Things can make a big difference
Repiping With PEX
LANDSCAPING Emerging Trends
Irrigation: Too Much of a Good Thing
On Site: An Exercise of Tolerance

Building Management Hawaii August/September2013