Above-floor plumbing saves time and money for medical facility

Originally designed as a medical office, the Ukiah Valley Medical Center became part of a hospital prior to completion. The change in designation meant the UVMC group could not occupy its new building until individual hand-wash sinks were installed in each examination room.

Ukiah, Calif. — The prognosis wasn't good for tenants of a newly constructed health care facility in this rural northern California town in 2007. Originally designed as a medical office, the Ukiah Valley Medical Center became part of a hospital prior to completion. The change in designation meant the UVMC group could not occupy its new building until individual hand-wash sinks were installed in each examination room.

With nearly half the sinks located on the ground floor and with slab-on-grade construction, installing sinks in the conventional manner meant costly digging and a great deal of time. Fortunately, John Morris, one of the contractors who worked on the original building and president of Watersphere Plumbing, located in Ukiah, had prior knowledge of the building's plumbing system and found a creative way to install sinks in each room.

“I knew where all the existing drains were, the extent of demolition, and the cost and expense of installing the sinks,” said Morris. “Time was the biggest driver. The facility was looking for ideas to save time since they were leasing.”

According to Morris, using above-floor gray water pumps made this project unique. If the job was done in the traditional way, it would have taken at least three months. Instead, in six weeks, 22 gray water pumps were installed to supply all the ground-floor sinks on the building's main floor, saving the center more than $250,000 and hastening its occupancy of the building.

“We would have had to tear up all the carpet, jackhammer out all the concrete, dig trenches and tie into sewer pipes underneath the building and connect the sinks,” explained Morris. “That's a huge amount of work.”

This is why Watersphere Plumbing installed Saniflo Sanishower gray water pumps. Designed to work above the floor, these pumps can service one or two fixtures in a commercial or residential application. Measuring 13-in. wide and 6-in. deep, the 6-in. tall unit is small enough to fit within a lavatory cabinet, which is where Watersphere installed the units.

Douglas Crane, president of Crane of Ukiah, the general contractor for the owner of the building, oversaw the construction project and subcontracted with Morris.

Crane and Morris worked with Pace Supply in Ukiah for all the project's plumbing needs.

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