Merit Plumbing installs radiant heating for new TARPS facility

TOLEDO, OHIO – If one metric for the economic health of a city is to be found in its public transportation system, consider this: in 2010, the Toledo Area Regional Transport Authority (TARTA) completed 219,757 passenger trips, servicing a metro population of 651,409. TARTA also operates Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service (TARPS), which operates a line of specially-equipped buses for its disabled passengers (in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act).

The TARPS service has seen a three-fold increase in ridership since 2000. The continued and rising demand coupled with an influx of federal grant money led to the design and construction of a new 80,000 sq. ft. facility just south of downtown Toledo. The green building incorporates geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, skylights, earth sheltering insulation, reflective roofing and even a biodiesel fueling station for public fleet vehicles.

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While the new facility will include administrative offices, most of the space will be used for garages and maintenance bays for the TARPS bus fleet, and almost all of that space will be warmed with radiant heating, which is where Merit Plumbing comes in.

Merit Plumbing has been in business since 1972. With a seasonally-varying pool of about 22 employees, they service an area roughly 60 miles around the Toledo area, specializing in commercial, light industrial and residential plumbing work.

They came to the job through an existing prior relationship with the mechanical contractor Industrial Power Systems, said Merit Plumbing President David Fitch. “We’ve done some work with IPS in the past, and they did the subcontracting on the sub-floor.”

A Team from Merit Plumbing worked their end of the job from early September until early November. “Once the grade was turned over to us,” Fitch explained, “it was our responsibility to lay down the Creatherm insulation board and run the looping from the manifold out to the areas and then back to the manifold, test while it was being poured, and then install the manifolds and the enclosures when it was complete.”

In the course of the job Merit Plumbing installed enough Rehau RauPex O2 Barrier tubing to cover 56,000-sq. ft., and installed seven Rehau Pro-Balance manifolds; 5-11 loop, 1-12 loop and 1-3 loop for a total of 70 loops.

Aiding in the installation was the Creatherm 2 ft. X 4 ft. panels. The tongue-in-groove panels fit together in a herringbone pattern. The surface has a guide space for the tubing that looks, according to Fitch, something like the packaging for a Hostess Cupcake.

“You snap your tubing in-between the raised portions,” Fitch said, “and snake them around. It’s actually pretty nice.”

The entire installation, after testing, was then covered in eight inches of concrete, the extra depth being needed to support the weight of large vehicles without damaging the underlying system. The entire system is powered by a Knight boiler with a 700 MBH input.

The TARPS facility, due to be opened in early 2012, has an estimated $9.9 million price tag. It is hoped that it will transform the immediate area into an important passenger transportation hub, and help revitalize Toledo’s south end.

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