7 commercial plumbing tips

7 commercial plumbing tips

As commercial work picks up pace, plumbers need ways to make their working lives easier and more productive. Martin Nicholson, Divisional Director, Specification Team North, draws on RWC’s products and insight to show the way forward.

Post COVID, the immediate future for commercial plumbing is pretty clear to see. More work, and lots of it as the UK makes up for lost time. There’s plenty of stimulus, including plans for over 500 high-rise towers in London and a Government commitment to building 40 new hospitals over the next decade.

While all of this will keep us busy, there’s plenty to keep us thinking too – not least

the need to deliver more choice and quality, at less cost, and in the most sustainable way possible.

And all this at a time when there’s a national shortage of skills and product availability. So, what can plumbers, installers and specifiers do to make sure they’re not just meeting the challenges, but actually benefitting from them too?

Work fast, work efficiently
Everyone’s under pressure to work faster, but that doesn’t mean working harder. Here, newer methods can replace traditional time-consuming approaches such as soldering. For example, RWC’s range of push-fit fittings include two flagship brands – JG Speedfit (plastic) and SharkBite (brass) which can be used to configure reliable pipework from the boiler to point of use.

They’re designed to make installations more intuitive and straightforward for installers with varying professional experiences, so they’re ideal in a time of skills shortages. They’re not just faster to install either. They’re perfect for when space is at a premium.

Make space in your life
Whether it’s in offices or residential buildings, people want more space. In giving it to them, architects tend to take it away from plumbers, forcing them to work in increasingly cramped areas in cupboards, beneath sinks and in between walls. Anyone who’s tried to fit meters and a myriad of valves (stop, double check and PRVs) into these spaces knows the challenges inside out.

Here, new products such as Tenant Valve Plus by Reliance Valves can be a game-changer as they combine all of these functions into one compact, single casting solution that is easy to install. Another benefit of the single casting solution is that there are no leak points – and being fully serviceable from the front of the valve means commissioning, testing and maintenance is easier too.

Think healthcare, and safety
COVID highlighted the importance of healthcare, and it’s prompted a huge wave of investment in hospitals and other key facilities with open public access. This makes it a big area of interest for the plumbing trade, which will be tasked with creating a safe, comfortable, and cost-efficient environment. Here, valves will have a big role to play, with three in particular as the focus: Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs), Anti-Legionella Valves (ALVs) and Thermal Balancing Valves (TBVs).

TMVs are designed to regulate temperatures to prevent injuries from scalding, and Reliance Valves Heatguard Dual and Ausimix are certified for use in high risk commercial healthcare applications by various bodies, including the NHS Estates Guidance and the independent TMV3 Scheme (D08). Similarly, Reliance Valves Anti-Legionella valve is WRAS certified and designed to help prevent the build-up of dangerous bacteria in cold water expansion vessels, where water stagnation can often occur and place a potential health risk to the system users.

Reliance Valves TBVs use a thermostatic element to automatically balance circulating hot water systems, ensuring it works at peak performance – constantly maintaining hot water supply temperatures even across larger properties, no matter the distance from the heat source. Individually or together, these will help create better and safer healthcare places.

Be preventative, not reactive
Typical commercial plumbing issues include leaks, blockages, pressures, temperature problems, system debris and smells. These all cause challenges during installation, and they’re likely to bring you back for repairs and maintenance. If there’s one overall tip, it’s to think ahead and make sure they don’t become a problem in the first place… and if they do, that they’re easy to fix.

Valves from RWC’s Reliance Valves brand have a robust design and innovative functionality. They are also designed for easy maintenance and upgrading. For example, the Anti-Legionella Valve has a rotatable tee-piece and integral isolating valve, while the Tenant Valve Plus has optional connections for Class ‘A’ or Class ‘D’ water meters and a reversable pressure gauge for HIU / TIU installations.

Think customer, think smart
Today, more than ever, customers hold influence and power. They also expect more choice and comfort, and control over their environment. These hold the key to great buildings, delivered through a new generation of smart heating solutions.

A wide range of technologies are now available from RWC’s family of brands – Reliance Valves, SharkBite and JG Speedfit to help create this experience, which all connect systems to deliver the safe, reliable and precise control of water flow in buildings. Helping win the hearts and minds of customers, these technologies have a big role to play in delivering successful projects. And RWC’s Multisafe solution is the latest development within this range giving the customer and building manager a complete leak detection and monitoring system against flooding and microleakage within the property.

Embrace underfloor
Yes, underfloor heating (UFH) has been around a while, but now that gas boilers are being phased out it’s going to become even more popular, so it’s a great time to get on board. With a whole suite of solutions suitable for new build and retrofit applications, RWC’s JG Underfloor heating brand is fully supported with a free CAD design and estimation service, as well as technical support before, during and after installation.

Work sustainably
As the world faces increasing environmental challenges, this is non-negotiable and must become part of every plumber’s philosophy. Sustainability isn’t just about environmentally friendly products and recycling. It’s also about the other issues we’ve mentioned – building faster, safer and more cost-effectively, deploying SMART technology to use less energy; being more aware of the value of space; protecting valuable resources such as water and, of course, embracing new heating technologies.

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