01/19/2007

Transforming Flush Valve Technology

One plumbing fitting that has seen significant change over time is the flush valve

 

Green Labeling

The Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Protection Agency's new WaterSense program provides certification for water-efficient products that meet performance specifications, protect the building owner's interests, and educating decision-makers in their selections. The WaterSense label will provide an easy way to identify products and services that have been certified as water efficient by third-party laboratories.

Scheduled to appear on products in early 2007, the WaterSense labeling program identifies products that, at a minimum, provide a 20-percent reduction in water consumption from EPAct of 1992 requirements. WaterSense products will also be inspected to certify that they cannot be altered to consume more water after they are installed.

When the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) was amended in 1992, mandating fixtures (especially toilets and urinals) with considerably lower water consumption, the plumbing industry was forced to make sweeping technology changes.

One fitting that has seen significant change is the flush valve. Before 1992's volume restrictions, the discharge from any flush valve adequately met the needs of its partner fixture. There were few compatibility issues because the extra (wasted) water was not a big concern. In fact, the engineers who designed the flush valves worked independently of those who designed commercial toilet bowls and urinals.

Today, the tolerances between flush valve discharge and bowl needs have shrunk to the point where fixture/fitting compatibility should be a careful consideration when specifying mated products from different sources. To illustrate, below are two graphs that show curves for flush valve discharge and bowl needs before and after the low-consumption requirements went into effect. (These illustrations chart events at specific test pressures.)

Clearly, Flush Valve B does not meet the bowl's needs at the end of its discharge cycle, so it does not restore the trap seal. Therefore, both fitting and fixture manufacturers should agree that a specified combination will perform properly at all anticipated building pressures before their selection. Simply leaving this matter to the bidder is no longer satisfactory. Of course, the simplest solution is to use fittings and fixtures from the same manufacturer, a recent trend in the green-building age.

Another notable trend is the swing toward using piston technology in flush valves. The ubiquitous diaphragm valves were discovered to vary by as much as 30 percent in discharge from the 30 psi (for which they were designed) to 80 psi. Piston valves have proved to be more predictable and vary only 6 percent (from 15 psi to 125 psi), opening their application to building environments where pressures vary this much.

Concurrently, the rise of sensor operation, a standard in most public facilities, has made "hands free" almost a code requirement. Competition between manufacturers now focuses on the energy sources used to activate the sensors and solenoid valves, and has precipitated a technology explosion. These energy sources range from hard-wired transformers (dependent on the grid) to batteries (that need changing and contribute to hazardous waste), solar power, and water power (the greenest of all) that uses the kinetic energy flowing through the valve. Manual flush valves, often value engineered into specifications to remain within the construction budget, are soon replaced with sensor-operated valves using funds from the maintenance budget because they reduce maintenance costs.

Gunnar Baldwin is senior manager of business development at Morrow, GA-based TOTO USA Inc. (www.totousa.com).

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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