The 2018 American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) Expo, the nation’s largest event for plumbing system design professionals, took place Oct. 1-2 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Plumbing equipment and accessory manufacturers from all over America and abroad gathered to showcase the latest advances in plumbing tech, from better water management systems to prevent legionella, new water delivery systems for hospitals and emergency wash stations, and DWV (drain, waste, vent) testing systems designed to prevent plumber injury.  Rather than simply delivering water, many new plumbing innovations leverage engineering to deliver safety and comfort.
Legionella prevention

A major focus of ASPE 2018 was legionella prevention. Legionella, the bacteria responsible for Pontiac fever and the potential-deadly Legionnaire’s disease, is commonly found in large, complex water systems—such as the kinds found in hospitals, hotels and cruise ships. Bacteria-containing water droplets from public showers, decorative fountains, cooling tower and hot tubs can lead to coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, headaches and death in some cases.

One in 10 people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection, so there is a big incentive for plumbing engineers to include prevention in their design. LiquiTech showcased a number of devices aimed at eradicating waterborne illness, such as point-of-entry filtration systems, point-of-use filters, ultraviolet disinfection systems, copper silver ionization, and other systems. Leonard Water Temperature Controls featured its Nucleus® Digitally Controlled Mixing Valve, with user-programmable temperature set points, so building owners have full control over their domestic hot water systems. With more control over the temperature of their water, facility managers can minimize the risk of legionella and other serious health risks.

Comfort in style

Comfort means many things to many different people. For some people, comfort may equate to feeling total weightless in one of TOTO’s Zero Dimension® floatation tubs, the world’s first “zero-gravity bathtub,” according to the maker. For those who can’t afford the aspirational price tag, TOTO showcased other comfort products such as the Washlet® system, which turns any standard toilet into a fancy bidet with all the buttons. It even comes in a convenient travel version.

For food service providers, hospitality kitchens, laundries and other small facilities without the space for a traditional boiler, Rinnai showcased its Tankless Rack System™. Pre-assembled with one connection point for gas, water, electrical and the condensate drain, the space-saving system offers gives smaller commercial businesses the water heating capacity of larger facilities, all while reducing labor time and cost.

Safety First

While many device makers focused on comfort and safety for the user, Reliance Worldwide Corporation and its subsidiary, HOLDRITE, focused on protecting the installer. Traditional plumbing system testing requires the use of inflatable rubber test balls, which can rupture when subjected to overuse or extreme water pressure, putting the plumber at risk of serious injury from shrapnel, slip-and-fall and even electrocution if working near wires. The TESTRITE® DWV Testing System creates a dry, safe testing environment, by allowing a hose to be attached and drained at the point of the test stem. The system is simple to install, reusable and allows for a testing process that is much faster than traditional methods. With a better design, plumbers can full test a plumbing system without having to climb ladders with hoses.

The ASPE Convention and Expo showcased what is possible with a little plumbing ingenuity. At the end of the day, however, customer wellness, safety and comfort continue to drive innovation.