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MECHANICAL CONTRACTING e Continued from p 58


with all the time, especially in a conservative-minded industry which is wed to its ways and conservative by nature, especially with the dreaded prospect of callbacks killing profitability. Jeff Nehring, John Guest’s Midwestern regional sales manager, deals with the, “It’s plastic so it’s not going to hold up” objection by emphasizing that John Guest’s push-fit fittings include cross- linked polyethylene, or PEX, which, after all, is a form of engineered plastic that is widely trusted and used in the land of Uponor. Speedfit fittings come with the


60


same pressure ratings and national certifications and warranty as brass fittings. Significantly, the body of a Speedfit fitting, where the pressure concentrates, is made of cross-linked polyethylene. Nehring is seeing less use of copper these days and greater use of PEX and, by extension, more use of engineered plastic push-fit fittings. The two make a nice combination that contractors appreciate for the convenience and cost/time savings to be had. “Once a contractor uses Speedfit, they will use it again,” says Nehring. (John Guest estimates contractors can save up to 40% on installation time using Speedfit.) Tommy Avery, John Guest’s West Coast regional sales manager, reports


that use of PEX in California is growing. That, in turn, helps win acceptance for engineered plastic fittings. Younger contractors, he notes, are generally more open to PEX and push-fit. To counter the


“plastics” issue held by some contractors, he informs them that John Guest fittings are used in trusted products they’ve been purchasing for years, such as GM and Ford cars and trucks (in critical braking and fuel systems) and in GE household appliances. Considering the high level of testing and compliance required to become a preferred vendor to the auto industry, he asks why they wouldn’t trust similar fittings used in a house.


Not all push-fit fittings are the same


Not all push-fit fittings are the same,


of course. That can be a challenge in the marketplace, especially with cheaper and inferior imports flooding in, some of which look exactly the same as the Speedfit original. Avery


John Guest Speedfit products used in California custom home of the future


A


dream home that will also serve as a demonstration prototype for tomorrow’s most advanced, sustainable homes is under construction in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, and it includes whole house plumbing using John Guest’s Speedfit fittings and PEX piping. Casa Bella Verde, the brainchild of designer and project manager Briana Alhadeff, is a 7, 500-sq.-ft. ICF (insulating concrete forms) home meant to last a millennium. An ICF home is a new alternative to conventional wood frame homes and is virtually impregnable against the elements over time. [Worksite photo on previous page] It also provides unmatched thermal insulation for energy efficiency, a protective sound barrier, and requires no maintenance. According to Briana, ICF is the “future of green construction” and its use in the Casa Bella Verde project, along with other leading edge products and technologies, will “demonstrate to the building community what green technologies are available to them.” John Guest’s Speedfit product line was selected by Briana to provide Casa Bella Verde’s domestic water supply from an underground well. More than 70 leading


manufacturers have donated products for the project. “Casa Bella Verde is a highly innovative, showcase project for the home construction industry, and we are very pleased to have been asked to participate,” says Maribel Pagan, John Guest USA’s marcom manager. “We especially liked the fact that it is a green,


LEED project. (The project is going for LEED Platinum). Lead-free Speedfit fittings and our PEX piping make for a perfect fit for this way of the future project that will attract high visibility from the building trades and trade press.” Beutler Corporation, home based in McClellan, Calif., did the plumbing install on both the main house and an adjacent guest house. Lead plumber on the job Jacen Twilligear, reports that using the John Guest product saved his crew time and effort. “I love the fact that Speedfit requires no tools,” he says. “Usually we have to use 2-3 tools


with other products, so this was awesome.” Beutler’s Plumbing Division Manager Dave


Arellano agrees: “Speedfit is very installer friendly and saves time on labor. Plus, you can easily disassemble the fittings if need be – again, without the use of tools.” Casa Bella Verde is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2012. ;


and the rest of John Guest’s U.S. sales force stress that the integral features of Speedfit fittings, especially their EPDM O-ring and patented nylon collet, should not be substituted for a less expensive knock-off that may cause trouble. Speedfit’s special


twist and lock feature, which has been likened to


a Chinese finger trap, provides extra security, employing the collet (with its stainless steel teeth) to grip pipe and provide a permanent leak-proof seal. Proper use and handling of any


push-fit fitting are important considerations and a large part of the training sales reps in the field provide to contractors, especially those using the product type for the first time. Simple but critical things such as keeping the products in their plastic bags prior to use are stressed, along with how to push the pipe into the fitting one-half inch or more and then twist and lock the fitting one turn to make the secure connection. When joining copper pipe or CPVC to fittings avoiding pipe burrs and making clean cuts are important.


The future is now Here in the U.S., despite old habits


wedded to copper and brass, the occasional problems caused by knock-off overseas products and the moribund housing construction market of late, push-fit fittings, especially engineered plastic ones such as John Guest’s Speedfit line, will continue to gain converts and advocates among builders and plumbing professionals who want to work smarter and faster, plus use an environmentally friendly and sustainable “green” product. ;


* Green Building Technologies that


Use Plastic Pipe and Tubing to Function published by the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association, www.plasticpiping.org.


Information provided by John Guest USA, Fairfield, N.J., www.johnguestusa.com.


phc december 2011 www.phcnews.com


Part of John Guest USA’s Speedfit line (above) and SlipTee connectors.


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