Builders' Show contains a few gems

March 2, 2010
LAS VEGAS — Approximately 55,000 builders, remodelers and other members of the home building industry crowded the aisles of the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show.

LAS VEGAS — Approximately 55,000 builders, remodelers and other members of the home building industry crowded the aisles of the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show held here in January. That number is well below the peak of several years ago of more than 100,000, but the surviving builders who made it here are looking for a better 2010.

Mechanical and plumbing exhibitors seemed to be saving their best efforts for other shows, the AHR Expo the following week in January for energy-related products and this April’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show for plumbing products. Nevertheless, there were some goodies for p-h-c contractors.

It’s unusual for an exhibitor at the Builders' Show to display a product that appeals only to plumbers, but a small Moorpark, Calif., company, G.T. Water Products Inc., introduced its better mousetrap. The Test Tee Mechanical Plug combines a rubber DWV plug on a steel lever handle that can hold the pressure of a 15-story building. The test plug comes in eight sizes from 2-in. to 10-in. After the test, the plumber pulls the “trigger” on the lever handle, allowing the cast iron or plastic DWV pipe to drain without spillage or getting the user wet.

Delta Faucet showed off its Pilar kitchen faucet with Touch2O technology. The Touch2O system allows users with dirty hands to turn the faucet on and off with a tap anywhere on the spout or handle. Pilar operates manually as well, while the handle adjusts flow rate and temperature. A blue LED light indicates when Touch2O is engaged, and turns red when the batteries need to be replaced. The faucet design incorporates a two-function, pull-down spray head that switches from stream to spray with a diverter button. A magnetic closure engages the spray head to its docked position.

Gerber Plumbing Fixtures LLC has launched the GS-310 Series Gerber Plus Valve, a new line of pressure balance valves. The valves feature a compact body design and washerless cartridges. The Plus Valve is compatible with all Gerber’s decorative trim kits. Included with a thin wall installation bracket, the Plus Valve is available in IPS/Sweat, PEX-b&c, CPVC, or PEX-a connections, and is back-to-back installation feasible.

Kohler Co. has converted several of its 1.6-gpf high-performance gravity toilets to flush with 1.28-gpf, assuring water savings without sacrificing performance. The Kohler Archer toilet is the company’s first one-piece, single-flush, gravity, high-efficiency toilet. The Devonshire and Wellworth toilets also have been converted to high-efficiency toilets, and both meet the requirements for the EPA WaterSense label. Both of these toilets are at the introductory price point for Kohler.

Viega’s message to the builders was that green building begins with a Manabloc. The manifold-based homerun water distribution system reduces hot water waste by minimizing the length of plumbing distribution lines, helping to gain points toward LEED certification. By providing each fixture with its own distribution line, the line can be sized appropriately so hot water can be delivered more rapidly, Viega said.

In-Sink-Erator showed the builders its Evolution line of disposers that feature MultiGrind and SoundSeal technologies. MultiGrind disposes of everything that anyone eats anywhere in the world, except for raw sharkskin. SoundSeal directs the water flow over the disposer opening to make the disposer quieter.

Takagi showed its T-H2 series of condensing wall hung water heaters, available in both indoor PVC-vented or outdoor models. The 92%-95% efficient units fire up to 199,000 Btuh and produce more than 4.5-GPM at an 80 degree rise. The water heaters have a copper primary and 316L stainless steel secondary heat exchanger.

Rinnai showed attendees its E Series and Q Series condensing wall-mounted gas boiler, with efficiencies as high as 96.5%. The E Series comes in two combination models for heat and domestic hot water, incorporating a stainless steel heat exchanger for heating and a copper nickel integrated plate heat exchanger for DHW. The Q Series has a fully modulating pump with a stainless steel heat exchanger and a 6.6-gal. fully insulated indirect tank. Outdoor reset function with the sensor and a complete plumbing kit with the low-loss header come standard with the boilers. The builders have seen the handwriting on the wall as far as residential fire sprinklers are concerned.

The folks at the International Code Council booth reported a brisk business in the International Residential Code, which contains the upcoming home sprinkler requirements. The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition booth was also busy.

Zurn announced the upcoming addition of fire protection systems that use the same PEX tubing, fittings and crimp rings, including QickSert CR fittings and QickClamp. The system will have all the benefits of a combination system, such as having the plumbing and fire sprinkler system installed at the same time by the plumbing contractor.

Zoeller Pump Co. noted that its ProPak 53 sump pump system was popular with the builders. The preassembled sump pump system with battery backup pairs a 115V powered M53 sump pump with a Model 507 battery backup pump. The firm also showed its Home Guard Max water powered emergency backup sump pump. Zoeller also displayed its Qwik Jon Ultima basement toilet system with a ½-HP mini-grinder pump that discharges through a 1-in. pipe and eliminates the need to dig up concrete floors.

Solar collected a lot of interest at the Viessmann booth, especially the new Vitosol 200-T, that can be mounted horizontally on roofs, walls or freestanding. The direct flow vacuum tube collector has a coated copper absorber, borosilicate glass and a permanent vacuum-sealed glass-metal joint. The collectors are compatible with any DHW system and as many as 150 tubes can be connected in series.

PF Waterworks displayed its PermaFlow no-clog drain. The clear plastic P-trap, suitable for bath or kitchen drains, incorporates an “easy-turn wiper” that will clear the drain of any clogs without the need for drain cleaning chemicals. The clear design makes it easy to retrieve lost jewelry at the bottom of the trap without needing to disassemble the drain.

Warmboard has expanded it heat loss and mechanical design services. The engineered drawings will professionally specify and size all mechanical and electrical components needed for a radiant heating system. Options available include boiler only for heating or a combination boiler with an indirect domestic hot water tank. The design work includes a room-by-room heat loss and a complete plumbing schematic of all boiler room piping. Components are specified by brand name and model number.

Franklin Electric showed off its SubDrive Inline 1100 constant pressure booster pump suitable for either private wells or municipal water systems. Pressure varies with flow, but the compact pump, with 1-1/4-in. NPT inlet and outlet, can easily handle 20-GPM at 50 PSI.

Danfoss showed two different types of electric radiant products. One is a self-adhesive mat that rolls out over the subfloor, upon which grout is applied. The second is Reflect Insulation Plates for laminate and engineered wood floors. The plates combine an insulating subfloor, reflective metal plates and Danfoss LX electric heating cable.

Lasco Bathware and Aquatic Whirlpools have merged, with the new firm operating under the Aquatic name. The company produces more than 140 products in luxury hydrotherapy, more than 150 models of everyday bathware and more than 40 accessible bathing products. Besides whirlpools, shower modules and steam showers, the firm introduced its Ava accessible bath with an automated door that lowers to open and rises to close.

A company manufacturing geothermal heating systems saw steady traffic at its booth, according to Steve Smith, managing partner at Enertech Manufacturing LLC, who said builders are particularly interested in learning more about the tax credits available for installing geothermal and other renewable energy heating and cooling systems.

"It’s been a good, upbeat crowd," Smith said. "I think we all have a more positive attitude for 2010. I’ve already talked to our marketing folks about getting a bigger booth at next year’s show."

Everpure showed the builders a variety of home water filtering products. The PBS-400 commercial grade filtration series can reduce lead below the Federal action level, inhibit lime scale buildup and reduce parasitic protozoan cysts, such as Cryptosporidium. The SPA-400 system provides similar benefits for water systems a home spa or bath. The Exubera undersink appliance makes chilled and sparkling water at the tap.

About the Author

Robert P. Mader

Bob Mader is the Editorial Director for Penton's mechanical systems brands, including CONTRACTOR magazine, Contracting Business and HPAC Engineering, all of which are part of Penton’s Energy and Buildings Group. He has been  with CONTRACTOR since 1984 and with Penton since 2001. His passions are helping contractors improve their businesses, saving energy and the issue of safeguarding our drinking water. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with an A.B. in American Studies with a Communications Concentration.

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