Plumbers urged to take precautions against COVID-19 virus

As long as the COVID-19 pandemic is active, anyone working on a sanitary drainage system should assume that the virus is present, reports International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).
The virus has been deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization – meaning it is an epidemic occurring worldwide affecting a large number of people. The worldwide number of people diagnosed has surpassed 120,000, with more than 4,300 deaths, reports IAPMO.
Plumbers are urged to wear proper personal protective equipment, including full-face shields that are worn over safety glasses and gloves. They are also advised to increase the frequency of handwashing and wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, avoid touching their face, cover any open cut or wounds, and wear the proper equipment.
“If you personally come into close-proximity or into direct contact with an infected person, immediately report the incident to your supervisor and to your doctor or healthcare provider,” recommends IAPMO.
COVID-19 is part of the coronavirus family, which is named because, when viewed under a microscope, they have protrusions that resemble a crown. Corona means crown in Spanish. The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China.
Currently, there is still little known about the virus, including transmissibility, how long it can survive on various surfaces or in water, and the range of illness severity. It should be noted that the coronavirus is considerably more dangerous than the current annual influenza virus, says IAPMO.
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – in Canada it would be the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) – provides standards for worker protection. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1926, provides the requirements for construction worker safety, including plumbers who work on sanitary drains, vent systems and sewers.
IAPMO suggests that plumbers around consider obtaining professional qualification for infection control risk assessment especially when working on sanitary systems that high probability of being contaminated with COVID-19.
There is no vaccine or treatment currently available. Symptoms associated with the virus include fever, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough. It can take between two to 14 days to become apparent after exposure. IAPMO recommends plumbers stop work immediately if they feel ill and, to protect coworkers, go home, contact a doctor, and follow their orders.

Coronavirus derails Toronto CMPX 2020 trade show, Habitat Gala

Canada’s largest tradeshow dedicated to the plumbing and mechanical trades has postponed the 2020 show due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Canadian Mechanical and Plumbing Expo has been postponed due to concerns over the Coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) and the Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) released a joint statement March 13 announcing that CMPX 2020, scheduled for March 25-27, would be put on hold.
The CIPH Gala in support of Habitat for Humanity, scheduled for March 24, has also been postponed.
This comes on the heels on several cancellations around the world including popular sporting events and concerts. Flights have been disrupted, schools closed, and the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. All of which rolled out in a short period of time.
The board of directors and senior business leaders of both CIPH and HRAI have been monitoring the events regularly with members, conference attendees and exhibitors.
At this point, new dates have not been established for CMPX or the Habitat Gala.

CaGBC updates zero carbon building standard

The Wilkinson Warehouse project was able to achieve extremely high efficiency through reduced infiltration, better insulation values, efficient heating systems, and automation.
The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has updated their Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) standard. The update will take effect March 10. Version two (v2) is designed to accelerate the building practices related to the standard – and help Canada meet its climate targets while spurring innovation and job growth.
ZCB standard v2 provides two pathways for any type of building to get to zero carbon: ZCB-Design and ZCB-Performance. The design initiative guides how the new building is designed or how to retrofit an existing structure. The performance part of the standard will provide a framework for verifying buildings have achieved zero carbon and must be revisited annually. The updates focus on:
Embodied carbon: projects must reduce and offset carbon emissions for the building’s life cycle including those associated with the manufacture and use of construction materials.
Refrigerants: encourages best practices to minimize potential leaks of refrigerants that could have significant impacts on climate.
Energy efficiency: promotes the efficient use of clean energy with more stringent energy efficiency and airtightness requirements.
Innovation: requires projects to demonstrate two innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions.
Canada’s buildings are a major contributor to carbon emissions, and updates to the ZCB Standard reflect the urgent need to change, reports CaGBC. Building operations represent 17 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions or closer to 30 per cent when embodied carbon from construction and materials are factored in.
The updates are based upon the current 20 ZCB-projects – which launched in 2017.
“There is no time to waste or reason to wait. Zero carbon buildings represent the best opportunity for cost-effective emissions reductions today,” said Thomas Mueller, CEO and president of the CaGBC “The changes we’ve made give the industry and government a clear path to show carbon leadership with positive climate action that future-proofs buildings, encourages innovation, and drives job growth.”
To read the full Standard, or to see the full list of pilot and certified projects, please go to

Value of building permits increase for January 2020

Total value of building permits
The total value of building permits issued increased four per cent to $9.2 billion in January. Increases were reported in six provinces, led by British Columbia with a 52.1 per cent to $2.2 billion.
The majority of January’s national increase in the value of building permits was in British Columbia and largely in the metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver. The value of permits increased in Vancouver by 81.8 per cent – likely due to an increase in development fees, which came into effect Jan. 15.
Quebec (decrease of $366 million) and Ontario (decrease of $161 million) reported the largest provincial declines after strong activity in December.
The residential sector reported strong gains in January, increasing 12.7 per cent from December to $5.8 billion.
Permits for multi-family dwellings increased seven per cent to $2.4 billion, mainly due to housing developments in Ontario and Quebec. The CMA of Brantford, Ontario, reported the largest increase in value of permits for single-family dwellings.
The value of non-residential permits declined 7.8 per cent to $3.5 billion in January. This decrease was largely due to a reduction in the total value of institutional permits.
Despite increases in seven provinces, the value of commercial permits decreased 0.8 per cent to $2.1 billion, with Quebec reporting with the largest decline. The value of industrial permits offset some of the non-residential decline, rising 6.8 per cent to $682 million, led by Ontario with an increase of $90 million.
The building permits survey covers over 2,400 municipalities, representing 95 per cent of the Canadian population.

CCA cancels annual conference over fear of coronavirus

John Bockstael, chair of the CCA, sent out a letter to members of the association to explain the decision to cancel the annual conference. 
The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has cancelled its annual conference set to take place in San Diego March 15-18.
“Following emergency meetings held over the weekend, the CCA board of directors made the decision to cancel the San Diego conference and business meetings,” explains the letter sent to members by John Bockstael, chair of the CCA, on March 9. “The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of cancelling the events with the overriding objective to protect you – our delegates, staff and the association – from risks associated with the coronavirus.”
All activities included in the conference have been cancelled including the zoo tour and golf tournament. Registration will be cancelled and reimbursed.
CCA recommends anyone not still planning to travel to San Diego to contact the hotel and airlines to try to minimize any penalties.

Canadian universities among winners of ASHRAE grants

Three Canadian universities were among the winners of recently announced ASHRAE grants.
Three Canadian universities were among 34 projects awarded grants through the ASHRAE Undergraduate Program Equipment Grants program. A total of $153,000 was awarded for the 2020-21 Society Year.
The grants are given to engineering, technical and architectural schools worldwide. This year seven different countries were represented by the winners. “Its goal is to increase student knowledge, learning and awareness of the HVAC/R industry through the design and construction of senior projects.” Grants are used to fund equipment and supplies for projects and two-year technical school projects that focus on ASHRAE-related topics.
The University of Alberta was awarded the grant for their project on “Undergraduate Gas/Liquid System Design: HVAC Components Demonstration,” the University of Windsor was awarded the grant for their project on “Novel Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) Adsorption Heat Transformation (AHT),” and the University of Regina was awarded the grant for their project on “Portable VAV System for Undergraduate Laboratory.”
“The practical experience that students gain through their work on these projects not only prepares them for the professional world, but encourages expanded thought and innovation,” said Ben Oliver, chair of the ASHRAE Student Activities Committee.
Winners were chosen from 92 applications – which is the largest number of applications in the history of the program. More than 50 per cent of applicants were new.
Successful projects were chosen based on relevance as an ASHRAE-related topic; long-term student impact of the project; amount of funding requested; and the participating student’s involvement with ASHRAE. The grants will impact over 4,000 students throughout the world, reports ASHRAE.
For more information about the program, please visit

Seminar topics announced for Moncton trade show

It was a busy show; lots of visitors, lots of meetings with manufacturers at the 2018 MEET tradeshow.
Seminar topics have been announced for the 24th edition of the Mechanical Electrical Electronic Technology (MEET). More than 400 exhibitors and 5,000 attendees are expected to gather at the Moncton Coliseum, Moncton, New Brunswick May 6-7.
Seminars will run on both days. Mechanical industry topics, in English, include Anti-Counterfeiting and Brand Protection by Andrew Pottier, lead, regulatory affairs, with Underwriters Laboratories of Canada. Robert Bean, president of Indoor Climate Consulting Inc., Calgary, will talk about What Should Drive the Sustainability Bus – Indoor Air Quality or Energy? Bill Hooper of Uponor will talk about Customed Mechanical Rooms to Optimize Efficiency and Profitability. Each speaker will present again May 7, but Bean will speak about Using Thermal Comfort Tools to Evaluate Discomfort Probabilities due to Enclosure Design and Choices in HVAC Systems.
“We’re looking forward to another great event for 2020!” said Shawn Murphy, show manager. “Booth space is nearly sold out, and we’ll be welcoming more than 400 manufacturing companies representing various mechanical and electrical industries.”
In addition to the seminars, the sixth biennial MEET Innovation Award competition will recognize innovative products.
The ever-popular industry dinner will return again this year on May 6, but things will be a little different. Instead of a sit-down dinner, there will be a more casual, upscale kitchen party. It will offer locally brewed Pump House beer, musical performances by East Coast Music Association members Colin Fowlie and Joannie Benoit, and a specially designed Atlantic Canada themed menu. Tickets are available to purchase at
The MEET Show is run by Master Promotions in conjunction with the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH), Electro-Federation Canada, Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and Atlantic Canada Mechanical Exhibitors (ACME). For more information, please visit

CMPX trade show and CIPH Habitat Gala will proceed as planned, says organizers

Organizers are hoping for another busy year at CMPX.
The Canadian, Mechanical and Plumbing Expo (CMPX) have released a statement that the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) fundraising Gala for Habitat for Humanity and CMPX trade show will move forward.
“In recent days, CMPX show staff have received a number of inquiries about the viability of this event in the wake of the coronavirus,” said Dennis Kozina, CMPX show committee chairman and member of the Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada. “I would like to confirm that the show is going on as scheduled. We continue to monitor updates and take direction from both Public Health Agency of Canada and Toronto Public Health.”
The world has been rocked by the recent, rapid spread of the coronavirus – COVID 19. CMPX isn’t alone in questioning whether the recent pandemic will halt preparations. There have even been conversation about whether the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will go on as scheduled.
Stakeholders involved with CMPX reviewed the current situation and made the decision to go as scheduled. “The health and safety are our foremost concern and has not been taken lightly for our members and customers with this decision. With proper precautions, we feel that the risk is not significant and since these events are highly anticipated by our industry, we should proceed,” added Kozina.
As a precaution, there will be hand sanitizing stations at all entrances. There will also be hand sanitizers at the Gala Reception Desk, CIPH booth, and Canadian Hydronics Council booth at the show.
For those that are still concerned, the press release offers the following advice to help reduce the risk of infection:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
Stay home if you are sick;
Cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs;
Dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards; and
Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick.
CMPX will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, March 25-27. Over 500 exhibitors will display their latest products and technologies at the show, which will run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on March 25 and 26, and from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. on the final day of the show.
The show has been running since 1972 and is jointly produced by HRAI and CIPH. For more information or to register, please visit

Coronavirus in plumbing systems: how did the outbreak occur in Hong Kong and is there a risk to North America?

This schematic shows the typical symptoms of coronavirus.
By Pete DeMarco
Health officials in Hong Kong have determined that plumbing systems in certain high-rise buildings are implicated in recent cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Based on the information available, it’s clear that transmission paths that would allow for the virus to spread between individual apartment units in at least one high-rise building have been identified. In order to understand how this has happened, it’s important to have some very basic knowledge of how wastewater systems work in high-rise buildings and to also look back at the SARS outbreak of 2003; the parallels are striking. In fact, the SARS virus is also a strain of coronavirus, so it’s not surprising that COVID-19 has been identified as having the potential to spread through plumbing systems.
High-rise buildings present unique challenges in plumbing design. When toilets in high-rise buildings are flushed, fecal matter and wastewater are discharged into a vertical wastewater pipe, called a “drainage stack.” As the wastewater descends in the stack, it creates pressure changes within the pipe. The wastewater flowing down a stack will push air down ahead of it and drag air behind it, creating both positive and negative pressures within the drainage system. These pressures can affect trap seals by either siphoning the water or pushing the water out of the trap. A second vertical pipe called a “vent stack,” typically runs parallel to the drainage stack and introduces air into the drainage stack every fifth floor to avert excessive changes that could deplete trap seals and allow contaminated air and aerosols to enter apartments on other floors.
When the SARS outbreak occurred in 2003, problems with dry traps were indicated, allowing contaminated air and wastewater aerosols to enter apartments on lower floors through floor drains that are required by Chinese and many other Asian national construction codes.
A full explanation of how the SARS outbreak occurred and technical solutions providing health and safety associated with proper plumbing practices can be found in The Health Aspects of Plumbing, a publication produced by the World Health Organization and the World Plumbing Council.
Sadly, history seems to be repeating with the current coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong. According to the Associated Press, a 2016 Hong Kong Housing Department policy change has allowed tenants in certain high-rise apartments to alter the pipe design in their bathrooms without requiring an inspection by a plumbing official, causing the problem that might have helped spread COVID-19. In one of the apartment units, the vent pipe was completely disconnected inside the bathroom, apparently by the occupant, which provided a pathway for contaminated air to enter the apartment, especially when the bathroom ceiling fans were activated. When health officials became aware of this problem, the building was evacuated, hopefully limiting the number of additional illnesses among building residents.
Can the COVID-19 coronavirus be spread in high-rise buildings in the United States in a similar manner? In short, the answer is yes, but unlikely. Due to U.S. plumbing codes, any modification to a building’s water, waste or vent system must be performed by a qualified professional and requires an inspection by a code official. In addition, wastewater stacks and vent pipes are typically hidden behind walls in high-rise buildings, reducing the opportunity for residents to easily cut into pipes and create unsafe conditions.
Both the SARS and the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks in Hong Kong illustrate the importance of proper plumbing design and practice in keeping building residents safe from disease and the profound problems that can develop when unqualified individuals decide to work on building water systems. The axiom “the plumber protects the health of the nation” is more than a slogan. Improper deviations to building plumbing systems can, and indeed often do, result in very significant loss of life and property.

Pete DeMarco is the executive vice president of advocacy and research at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

AHR Expo product report

Every year thousands of new products are introduced a the AHR Expo, North America’s largest trade show for the HVAC/R industry. This year’s event held Feb. 3-5 in Orlando, Florida, was no exception. There were over 1,900 exhibitors displaying thousands of new products.
As noted in the show report on page 9, Danfoss won an unprecedented three categories in this year’s AHR Expo Innovation Awards, including Product of the Year.
We mentioned the Danfoss CO2 Adaptive Liquid Management Solution, which won both the Refrigeration category and Product of the Year, in our earlier report. It combines Danfoss’ liquid ejector and adaptive liquid control case controller algorithm to fully utilize the evaporator surface in display cases and cold rooms, providing up to 10 percent greater efficiency with no equipment change.
Danfoss also won the Cooling category for its Interlaced Micro Channel Heat Exchanger, or iMCHE. It integrates multiple circuits into a single-coil with shared air heat transfer area, controlling each one independently by a multi-circuit system. The compact, all-aluminum iMCHE uses whole air-side heat transfer area when operating under partial load conditions to improve system efficiency by more than 20 percent. It also offers 30 percent higher heat transfer efficiency, and lower refrigerant charge.
In the Green Building category, Danfoss received an Innovation Award for its Danfoss Turbocor TG490 compressor. Designed for air- or water-cooled chillers, the Danfoss Turbocor® TG4the company reports that it is the first oil-free, variable speed, magnetic bearing centrifugal compressor qualified for the use of R-515B. R-515B has an AR5 GWP of 299 and an ASHRAE A1 safety classification for lower toxicity and no flame propagation. As an extension of the existing Turbocor TG series of compressors, it also is qualified to use HFO-1234ze, an environmentally-friendly refrigerant with a GWP less than one.
Thousands of new products
Here are just a few other products that caught our reporter’s eye at this year’s event:

Hybrid water heater
Rheem’s Prestige series hybrid electric water heater is a hybrid heat pump and electric water heater, now in its fifth generation. Rated at a very high 4.0 UEF efficiency, the new line will be available in June and will include a new 40-gallon model. The system’s premium model is now built with LeakGuard – an integrated leak detection and auto-shutoff system. Rheem’s EcoNet technology monitors the system from any location. This allows users to adjust temperature settings and run diagnostics on the system. It also lets users know how much hot water is available.
Efficient combi-boiler
Navien introduced its new NCB-H (high-output) series of condensing combi-boilers at the AHR Expo. They are packed with upgrades from the NCB-E series, including 15 to 1 turndown ratio, greater DHW performance, a new DHW module with flow control, enhanced controls with multi-line text display, increased two-inch PVC venting length, serviceability with up-front three-way valve and built-in controls for up to three zones.

New press joining system
Nibco displayed their new PressG fittings at AHR, a new line of joining solutions designed for use in copper tube systems primarily for gas and compressed air applications. PressG fittings feature a patented (yellow) HNBR O-ring, providing leak detection capability to identify any uncrimped connections. They are available in 1/2 through two-inch sizes and the line includes male and female threaded adapters, caps, couplings, reducing couplings, elbows, tees, and unions.
Airflow control
Belimo’s standalone airflow measurement and control actuators are available with digital communications for rotary, linear, and induct applications. Select actuators have pressure independent control characteristics combined with an integrated differential pressure sensor to calculate and deliver designed flow regardless of pressure fluctuations in the system. The actuator communicates directly with the building automation system using BACnet, Modbus, or MP-Bus.
Internet boiler monitoring
Cleaver Brooks launched Prometha, an Internet-of-Things (IoT) powered boiler control. It offers users the ability to remotely monitor boiler systems from anywhere, providing alerts and actionable insights that help increase reliability, efficiency, safety and sustainability in the boiler room. It collects data on each point of a boiler system’s health and transmits it wirelessly to a dashboard, accessible to authorized users on any phone, tablet or computer.

Condensate drain cleaner
DiversiTech introduced the Swoosh Drain Gun, which is designed to blow out condensate drains instantly, clearing any debris, dirt, algae, and other substances that lead to clogs. It is designed to operate exclusively with the new 20-gram Swoosh Drain Gun cartridge. The cartridge delivers 800 psi of oil-free air to clean the line. Each unit comes equipped with a tapered fitting to work on 3/8-inch to 3/4-inch drain openings.
Compact HVAC unit
LG launched its new Console Indoor Unit, available in a 9,000 to 15,000 Btu/h capacity. It is ideal for residential applications and designed for markets where heating days outnumber cooling days. It is available for single or multi zone system configurations. The unit comes embedded with LG ThinQ technology, allowing for simple connectivity to other smart LG home appliances and products. It can be controlled anywhere via the accompanying smartphone app.
Data centre cooling
The Nortek CDU1200 1,200-kW coolant distribution unit is designed for data center liquid cooling. It supplies 1.2-megawatts of cooling capacity in a density of 14.6 ft2. The unit’s heat exchanger technology thermally transfers primary loop cooling to the secondary loop’s liquid cooling circuit for distribution to IT rack cold plates. Features include two redundant 15-hp stainless steel pumps with ECM motors and variable frequency inverters that modulate optimum performance flow rates for the system.

Latent load management
The DX-based DN series DOAS with integrated refrigeration from RenewAire is a customizable modular design. It features a near-zero exhaust air transfer ratio at balanced airflow. The design is beneficial for those applications using chilled beams, VRF, VFV, radiant panels and other technologies lacking adequate latent load management capabilities. It is a compressorized outdoor unit that boasts an industry-pioneering 8.0 ISMRE rating. The three-model series – D-2, D-3 and D-5 – ranges from 375 to 5,000-CFM and two to 30-tons of refrigeration.

Quick refrigeration piping
RectorSeal has added the Quick Connect push-fit, flame-free, refrigerant line brass fitting system to its Pro-Fit tools and accessories. The system is designed for ductless mini-split and ducted unitary, single-family residential air conditioning systems. Each Quick Connect fitting port consists of a patented factory-assembled tight-fitting double O-ring, protector, grip ring and endcap. No special tools are required except for a reusable support kit that is sold separately.