WATERFORD, PA. — Brian Dwyer is a third-generation plumber. His grandfather James founded the company in 1949 with a focus on residential plumbing. In 1979, Dwyer’s father bought the business and set about expanding it and adding excavating services. The company now owns several excavators and attachments, as well as a bulldozer, loaders, rollers and dump trucks. Brian bought the business in turn in 2008.
“We do an average of about $3.5-4 million dollars a year in work, and we do all commercial,” said Brian Dwyer. “I do one or two houses a year, but it’s always for a commercial builder.”
Dwyer Plumbing has made a name for itself in hotel and restaurant work. Because of its excavating capabilities, Dwyer is often brought in during the earliest stages of projects to clear sites and do earthwork. “I get a lot of coordination done for the people coming in to town,” Dwyer said. “I’ll hook them up with good contractors I like working with — hiring for the concrete, electrical, HVAC and so forth.”
Dwyer came to the Hilton Garden Hotel job in Erie, Pa. through a previous relationship with the building’s owners. “We did a water park for them and a few other hotels,” Dwyer said. “We bid the Hilton Garden Hotel, and by utilizing newer products we were able to save them a lot of money… they appreciated that and they gave us the job.”
Among those new products was an innovative hot water recirculation system from Viega. “It was perfect timing,” Dwyer said. “I was looking at the floor plans, trying to determine the best way to install the recirculating system when a Viega district manager walked through the door.” After a quick demonstration, Dwyer decided it was the solution his new project had been looking for.
The inside-lying recirculation system uses the supply riser to insulate the internal recirculation piping. A 3/8” ViegaPEX Ultra return line is inside the riser and is insulated by warm water. Water stays hotter longer (reducing energy consumption), and remains in constant motion (reducing the risk of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens).
But for Dwyer Plumbing the real savings was in labor. First, the system comes packaged as a kit, ready to install. Second, it saved on fittings, pipe cores, penetrations and caulking — basically everything involved in installing a riser. “It’s a five story hotel,” Dwyer explained. “Each hole for each riser [hot water, cold water and recirc] had to be fire rated, each had to have a hanger system on it. So right out of the gate you eliminate one-third of that.”
And third, the system is installed using Viega’s ProPress mechanical pipe joining system. The ProPress system can make a watertight connection in as little as five seconds. Since there’s no open flame, no fire watches or burn permits are needed.
Dwyer has been an advocate of the ProPress system since first using it on a hotel job way back in 1999. In the fourteen years since there have been no call backs on the piping he installed. “In fact,” Dwyer said, “their maintenance department bought one of the ProPress tools for when they have to add on to their system.”
Work on the Hilton Garden Hotel began in May of 2007. Dwyer Plumbing and Excavation cleared the site and did the earthwork, which included a stormwater retention system. “It was 500 ft. long with five rows of 5-ft. pipe underneath the ground,” Dwyer said. “All the material we dug out of there was used to build the pads for the building.”
Over the course of about a year Dywer’s team of technicians installed the full mechanical systems for the 87,000-sq. ft., 136-room hotel, including Bradford White water heaters and boilers, Grundfos pumps and Siemens controls, as well as all the faucets, fixtures and toilets. Most of the mechanicals were located in a central plant on the first floor.
The crew ran 17 risers in the building, ½” to 3” ProPress fittings and transitioned at each of the six floors using ½” ViegaPEX tubing. Capitalizing on the best properties of copper and PEX, Dwyer Plumbing was able to move very quickly, completing one room in only ten minutes time.
Additionally, Dwyer Plumbing was able to install a radiant snowmelt system to save on future shoveling, plowing and (most importantly) insurance expenses. “The whole entryway was snowmelted, the porte-cochère,” Dwyer said. “We did an in-slab PEX system of nearly 1,000-sq.ft. with a dedicated boiler.”
All the work went smoothly, and construction was completed in May of 2008. After a few weeks of tweaking to balance the system, everything has been working just as designed. “It seems to be working great. They have no issues at all,” Dwyer said.