Last September, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers held its biennial convention in Chicago. The ASPE convention is the last of the great mega plumbing shows in the United States. All the other large plumbing shows have disappeared.

If PHCC and PCA of MCAA were smart, they would team up with ASPE. If the show had a large number of contractors as well as plumbing engineers, it would even be greater. While a number of contractors attended the ASPE trade show, it was small in comparison to contractor shows of old.

One of the beauties of such a large show is that manufacturers introduce their new products. You get a chance to meet and discuss the products with the manufacturer. At the ASPE show, they often have the manufacturer’s engineers. Hence, you can get the low down on how the new product or system is designed to perform.

Since many of you were not able to attend the show, let me identify some of my favorite new items. To avoid offending anyone, I will not list the name of the manufacturer. It will be up to you to investigate which manufacturer made any of the products that might be of interest to you.


Two favorites

My favorite had to be the new nonwater-supplied urinals. These go by all sorts of names, but the new technical name is nonwater urinal or nonwater-supplied urinal. Two manufacturers had a joint effort on a new design. However, rather than calling it a nonwater urinal, it is classified as a hybrid urinal. That is not a name they came up with — the testing laboratory and model plumbing code organization identified the urinal as a hybrid.

The reason it is called a hybrid is because there is a water supply to the urinal. No, it doesn’t flush with water, it is the typical nonflushing urinal. One of the major complaints about nonwater urinals is that they need to have the line flushed periodically. Most manufacturers suggest using a bucket of water once a week on the urinal.

The hybrid urinal eliminates the need for any flushing of the line. Periodically, the water supply to the urinal opens and flushes a gallon of water down the drain. This keeps the drain clear of any urine salts.

The neat part of the water supply is the way it is sprayed into the drain line. It also flushes the connection between the urinal and the drain. This is often identified as a major issue for nonwater urinals. A manual override for the hybrid urinal allows a maintenance person to flush the urinal at a greater interval.

The other thing the urinal responds to is the issue of having a water-supplied fixture upstream of a nonwater urinal. Some plumbing codes require a water-supplied fixture on the same line. Rather than adding a fixture, the hybrid urinal could be the most upstream fixture. The remaining fixtures could be nonwater urinals.

It is a very clever invention. I think the fixture will do well. Plus, it will still save thousands of gallons of water each year.

The next new product is a closet flange that seals the floor, preventing any leaks to the lower floors. One of the biggest complaints with an overflowing water closet is that the water drips through the ceiling. Everyone considers that to be gross. Well, it is. Plus, it significantly increases the cleanup required. Sometimes ceilings have to be replaced. So, imagine having a flange that prevents any leaks from penetrating the floor.

You can understand why this company was selling to the engineers. Most contractors would have a difficult time selling this to their customers. However, some contractors are good at upselling to the general contractor or the owner. This is an upsell. It provides great protection in the event of a leak.


Epoxy coatings, pump packages

I had to check out the epoxy-coated cast-iron pipe. After seeing all that has been written about the product, I had to find out for myself what was up. The cast iron has both an interior and exterior epoxy coating. The company president was as delightful as can be. The first question I asked was, “Where is the cast-iron pipe manufactured?”

The answer was a quick, “China.” Ahhh, that explains a lot. Yes, I love products manufactured in the United States as much as the next patriotic American. However, I realize we are now a global economy.

My next question was, “Why epoxy coating? Are you trying to be resistant for chemical or special waste?”

Again a quick straightforward answer: “It reduces the rate of corrosion of the cast iron. You know as well as I do that cast iron corrodes. The epoxy coating extends the life of the pipe.”

He went on to explain that the purpose of the epoxy was not to make the pipe a chemical or special waste pipe. It is a cast iron for installation in any drainage, waste or vent system. The epoxy coating is currently being applied in the United States.

The pipe was rather interesting. It really looked nice. Plus, your hands don’t get dirty handling the pipe. If it catches on, I can see other manufacturers considering an epoxy coating for their cast-iron pipe.

If you are into large buildings or high-rise buildings, I saw some new pump packages that are really great. We are getting space-aged in pumping. The systems control the pressure and flow with amazing accuracy. It is amazing to think of how far we have come in the last 25 years with pumping water to a building.

If you want to experience the next mega ASPE trade show, you’ll have to wait until October 2016  in Phoenix. ASPE only holds its shows every two years. So plan on attending. You may even want to consider taking a few extra days off to play some golf in Phoenix.