Industry News

Information provided by ASA It has been a long time coming, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on July 29, 2020 issuance of the final rule “Use of Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water.” In the final rule, EPA is implementing regulations associated with the Reduction of Lead in Read more

Information provided by ASA

It has been a long time coming, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on July 29, 2020 issuance of the final rule “Use of Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder, and Flux for Drinking Water.”

In the final rule, EPA is implementing regulations associated with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (RLDWA) issued in 2011 and fully implemented on Jan. 4, 2014. Some of you may remember this as the “Get the Lead Out” initiative.

The RLDWA amended the Safe Drinking Water Act with a new definition of “lead free:”

(1) Not containing more than 0.2% lead when used with respect to solder and flux; and
(2) Not more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.

The new ruling is intended to provide a framework of compliance to the 2011 amendment and addresses areas such as: further defining products covered under the RLDWA; means of showing compliance; and providing an implementation date for complying with the compliance requirements. The good news is that the final rule should have zero to limited impact on products currently in the supply chain!

To begin with, the final rule does not change the definition of “lead free” from the definition enacted in 2011. The final rule does provide some further clarification related to the product covered or exempted from the definition. The current act exempts the following products from the prohibitions on the use or introduction into commerce based on the definition of “lead free”:

  • Pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings or fixtures, including backflow preventers, that are used exclusively for nonpotable services such as manufacturing, industrial processing, irrigation, outdoor watering, or any other uses where the water is not anticipated to be used for human consumption
  • Toilets, bidets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, tub fillers, shower valves, service saddles or water distribution main gate valves that are 2 inches in diameter or larger; and
  • Fire hydrants

    In addition to the above exemptions, the following products were added to the exemption list: clothes washing machines, emergency drench showers, emergency face wash equipment, eyewash devices, fire suppression sprinklers, steam capable clothes dryers and sump pumps.The final rule requires manufacturers with 10 or more employees, and importers entering products purchased from or manufactured by manufacturers with 10 or more employees, to obtain third-party certification by an ANSI- accredited third-party certification body. The requiring of third-party certification will not pose a significant impact on the current products sold since current model plumbing codes adopted by state and local authorities already require that plumbing system products intended for potable water applications comply with NSF/ANSI 372, Drinking Water System Components – Lead Content.

    NSF/ANSI 372 is based on the current “lead free” definition in the RLDWA. In addition, products certified against NSF/ANSI 61, Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects, which is also referenced in model codes, automatically comply with NSF/ANSI 372. The model codes do not limit the requirement for products to be third- party certified based on the number of employees. Products produced by manufacturers with less than 10 employees are allowed to self-certify compliance with the “lead free” definition and provide a certificate of compliance with the products.

    This final rule includes three exclusions from the certification requirement for those products required to be lead free: product components of assembled pipes, fittings or fixtures do not need to be individually certified if the entire product in its final assembled form is lead-free certified; direct replacement parts for previously installed lead-free- certified products do not need to be individually certified if the weighted average lead content of the wetted surface area for the part does not exceed the weighted average lead content of the original part; and dishwashers.

    The initial proposed rule published in 2017 for public comment included requirements for the labeling of products to demonstrate to consumers compliance with the “lead free” definition. Fortunately, the U.S. EPA decided to not include labeling requirements in the final rule based on comments received. The U.S. EPA determined that the requirement for third-party certification will adequately address labeling of the products, and having additional labeling requirements in the final rule would not add value and represented a significant cost to manufacturers in having to comply with additional labeling requirements.

    There is one labeling requirement noted in the final rule and it impacts solders and fluxes. The labeling requirement states:

    Solder and flux that is not “lead free” as defined in § 143.12(a)(1) must bear a prominent label stating that it is illegal to use the solder or flux in the installation or repair of any plumbing providing water for human consumption.

The implementation of the new certification requirement will go into effect 3 years following the official publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Again, due to existing product standards and model codes referencing NSF/ANSI 61 and NSF/ANSI 372, the majority of products in the marketplace already comply with the requirements. It is simple to determine if the products you are currently distributing comply with the third-party certification requirements — certified products are required to carry the mark of the certifying body on the product and/or packaging along with the standard the product was tested to.

As noted at the beginning of this article, the publication of this new rule is a long time coming from the original adoption of the “lead free” definition in the 2011 RLDWA. The good news is that the U.S. EPA took the comments received from industry related to third-party certification and labeling and came out with a final rule that will have a limited economic impact on the manufacturers while also having almost no impact on wholesalers/distributors that sell the products covered under the RLDWA.

Seminar attendees can earn credits and certifications. Broomfield, Colo. — Viega LLC is adding more classes to its schedule of online seminars for contractors who want to increase their knowledge and add skills. While Viega’s seminar centers in Colorado and New Hampshire are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the company is making the valuable training Read more

Seminar attendees can earn credits and certifications.

Broomfield, Colo. — Viega LLC is adding more classes to its schedule of online seminars for contractors who want to increase their knowledge and add skills.

While Viega’s seminar centers in Colorado and New Hampshire are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the company is making the valuable training available for free to contractors, distributors and others.

Viega, the leading manufacturer of pipe fitting installation technology, is offering classes in such subjects as ProPress, MegaPress and PureFlow PEX, as well as radiant and flushing systems training. The classes are taught by Viega’s expert instructors. Some courses offer Continuing Education Units while others include the opportunity to earn industry credentials from Viega.

Classes are free, but registration is required. For a schedule of Viega classes and to learn more, click here.
In addition, Viega is continuing its “TechTalk LIVE!” program. Master plumbers and Viega training managers Troy Locke and

Bo DeAngelo will discuss technical topics and answer questions from viewers in realtime.

The next webinar is Wed., Aug. 26 from 5 to 6 p.m. CT. Previous sessions are available on Viega’s YouTube channel.

Offers Help Homeowners, Commercial Businesses Save Money on High-Efficiency Boiler Purchases Growing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency and increasing performance standards for heating systems are important drivers in the boiler market. Focused on these trends, Weil-McLain, a leader in hydronic heating systems, recently launched EcoRebates industry-leading rebate tools on its website. The tools Read more

Offers Help Homeowners, Commercial Businesses Save Money on High-Efficiency Boiler Purchases

Growing awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency and increasing performance standards for heating systems are important drivers in the boiler market. Focused on these trends, Weil-McLain, a leader in hydronic heating systems, recently launched EcoRebates industry-leading rebate tools on its website. The tools automatically highlight rebate and incentive savings available to homeowners and commercial entities based on their location when they research and view qualified energy-efficient boiler equipment.

EcoRebates tracks thousands of rebate programs offered by utilities and energy service providers that offer cash-back to homeowners and commercial entities that purchase energy efficient hydronic heating equipment. Using the rebate tools on the Weil-McLain site, homeowners can easily find rebate savings, up to $2,500 in some areas, with higher savings available to commercial entities purchasing larger equipment.

“The rebate center is a powerful tool that is simple for homeowners and business owners to use and automatically displays location-based rebates and savings on energy efficient products in real-time,” said Scott Butterfield, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Weil-McLain. “We are excited to offer this solution to our sales team and dealers to provide a valuable way to present savings to customers throughout their high efficiency boiler purchase journey.

“Weil-McLain is the North American leading boiler manufacturer who remains strong in the high-efficiency boiler market,” added Brett Battles, Co-Founder and CEO at EcoRebates. “We’re pleased to work with them to deliver these valuable savings opportunities into the hands of their customers.”

More information on rebates for Weil-McLain residential and commercial boiler systems is available at www.weil-mclain.com/rebate-center.

Marcum LLP today released the first annual Marcum National Construction Survey. Overall, the survey reflects a positive outlook by respondents about the current and future state of the industry, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Influencing their optimism were the ability to secure financing for new projects and to find new sources for building materials, the respondents said. In Read more

Marcum LLP today released the first annual Marcum National Construction Survey. Overall, the survey reflects a positive outlook by respondents about the current and future state of the industry, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Influencing their optimism were the ability to secure financing for new projects and to find new sources for building materials, the respondents said. In addition, while job backlogs remain strong, they anticipate the need for diversified supply chains, new worksite safety protocols, and strategic planning to secure new contracts.

The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2020 by Marcum’s national Construction Services group, a premier provider of accounting, tax, and advisory services to the construction industry. To account for the influence of the coronavirus crisis, responses were separated into pre- and post-March 15 periods.

Selected Findings

  • 90% of respondents reported that their ability to receive project financing has increased or stayed the same as compared to last year.
  • 47% of respondents reported banks required bonding on less than 20% of their jobs.
  • 82% of pre-pandemic respondents projected either the same or higher backlogs for 2020.
  • 67% of post-pandemic respondents projected either the same or higher backlogs.
  • Just over a third of respondents (36%) predicted they will increase expenditures in the next year.
  • 41% of pre-pandemic respondents chose “securing skilled labor” as the No. 1 threat to their businesses.
  • 29% of post-pandemic respondents chose “lack of work” as the No.1 threat.
  • 51% of respondents are increasing compensation to address the shortage of skilled labor.
  • 85% of respondents said they were applying for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to mitigate the impact of the virus on their businesses.
  • 56% of respondents said their top priority going forward is strategic planning.
  • 37% of respondents have realized tax savings in the past year, from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Joseph Natarelli, Marcum’s national construction industry leader, said, “The industry was well-positioned prior to the pandemic, even with a potential recession looming. Those going into COVID-19 with weaker balance sheets will be negatively impacted. We believe that as long as firms work with their internal teams and professional advisors to address labor safety issues and material sourcing, and have a pandemic plan in place, they will come out of this in good shape.”

Marcum Partner Roger T. Gingerich, regional construction leader for Ohio and survey project manager, said, “When we distributed the survey in early February, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus was in China, an important hub for steel production and general manufacturing, and that country’s subsequent economic shutdown had an immediate ripple effect on the U.S. construction industry that still persists. With the exception of several regional markets hardest hit by the pandemic, where job sites were closed, most U.S. construction workers were deemed essential and have continued to work. In alignment with these developments, positivity among survey respondents began to dip by mid-March.”

“The pre-COVID-19 economy was blissful for many contractors. A combination of strong job growth, technology-induced transformation, and healthier state and local government finances, rising incomes, consumer confidence, low inflation, and minuscule interest rates propelled construction spending higher. The post-COVID-19 economy is the mirror opposite,” wrote Marcum’s chief construction economist, Anirban Basu.

“The second quarter of 2020 is likely to prove the worst quarter of our economic lives. By February, the nation was already in recession. U.S. GDP declined 4.8% for the quarter… Often, construction is spared during the early stages of a broader economic downturn due to a combination of ongoing work and backlog. That didn’t happen this time… Construction’s recovery will be far more rapid if two things occur: 1) federal stimulus directed toward state and local governments to help them balance their budgets; and 2) a federal infrastructure investment package,” he said.

Ontario, Calif. – With the recent surge of coronavirus cases in a number of states in various stages of reopening causing confusion and uncertainty in the industry, IAPMO will host a free webinar, The COVID Rollercoaster: Navigating Your Business Through the Ups and Downs of State COVID Responses, on Wednesday, July 15, at 3:30 p.m Read more

Ontario, Calif. – With the recent surge of coronavirus cases in a number of states in various stages of reopening causing confusion and uncertainty in the industry, IAPMO will host a free webinar, The COVID Rollercoaster: Navigating Your Business Through the Ups and Downs of State COVID Responses, on Wednesday, July 15, at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Presented by IAPMO, the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), the Plumbing Contractors Association (PCA), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), and the United Association (UA), the webinar will examine the challenges presented by attempts to reopen buildings, businesses and other public areas during this ever-changing pandemic.

The Honorable Armando Walle, Texas state legislator and Harris County (Houston) COVID-19 recovery czar, and Matthew Helminiak, state of Maryland commissioner of Labor and Industry, will share their observations and recommendations during the webinar.

“As COVID continues to spread across the country, it is imperative that our industry follow best practices when reopening businesses and engaging with clients and the public,” said Jim Scarborough, director of government relations for IAPMO. “We are very pleased to have these two engaging speakers, who will share with us what is happening in their communities and how they work to protect the public.”

To register for the webinar, visit:

https://iapmo-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_W8t96wIRTXiI63eZMmRJKw

To watch a recording of IAPMO’s previous webinars on mitigating the threat of COVID-19, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmcHo13VjwLnygukuqzKvjNiFyICtJHr2.