IAPMO Executive Vice President
UES Comes to the Rescue
I happened across something both surprising and wonderful the other day, and would like to share it with you.
I was working on a project for the Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA), and one of the people with whom I was working was an engineer who worked for a major manufacturer in the hydronics/radiant industry. His mobile phone rang, he answered, and it was a manufacturer’s representative from his company informing him that one of their jobs had been shut down by an Inspector who had never seen a hydronic installation like the one he was called to inspect; he needed to be positive it was code compliant before further work progressed.
Naturally, neither the installing contractor on the job nor the manufacturer’s representative were pleased; this would put the job behind schedule if it went on long, and as we all know construction time is expensive! I used to be a municipal inspector, so I am making an educated guess that the inspector was not too thrilled, either. He is just doing his job, as are the other two gentlemen.
Such delays on today’s commercial construction and even some residential job sites are not uncommon. As readers of this magazine, I’m sure you know that the plumbing and mechanical industry is very dynamic, and new technologies, methods, and materials are being developed and introduced all the time. It seems like a daily thing at times; keeping up can be difficult.
This is further compounded by the shrinking staffs in building departments across the country. Many have downsized and in many instances are continuing to do so. Inspectors and the people in the plans examination review departments are being asked to assume more and more responsibilities, with little training or background, in many areas.
Further, it is becoming more common for manufacturers to totally engineer and design a building system, including the drawings, and submit them to the architect, engineer, and even building owner, and tell their story about the effectiveness of their systems. Some have been found to be factual, others are questionable. They do need to be checked.
This was just such an instance. The manufacturer, in fact the very engineer I was standing alongside, had designed the total system to meet the specific needs of the building owner, but now the project was close to being delayed. I was surprised at the calm demeanor and even tone with which he addressed the callers. There was no panic, anger, or even frustration evident at all. He simply directed them to his company website, where he had posted a Uniform Evaluation Report on this exact system.
He knew that he had designed a state-of-the-art system, sophisticated enough that it may be hard to understand. He knew that it was not a one-time-and-done system, it would be used by other buildings around the country. So, he submitted it to IAPMO Uniform Evaluation Service (UES) for a code compliance report on all model codes in the United States.
UES reviewed each component in the system, their related standards, test reports, installation requirements, and other related data, and then how each component is to work with the other products in the system. All relevant code compliance information is summarized in the report, making it much easier for the building official or inspector to read and understand the system for approval. UES staff is even available on a 1-800 number to answer questions regarding the report, and have responded while inspections are in process.
In this instance, they stopped the call while they reviewed the report in concert with inspection of the system, but by the end of the day the representative had called back just to let the engineer know that the system was approved. An expensive delay had been averted and I was impressed by the engineer’s foresight. I told him so.
He laughed and said, “Experience can be a tough teacher!” He went on to explain that he had once designed a system that included solar thermal panels and a water circulation system for a building. He’d encountered such a problem obtaining local approval that the owner nearly scrapped the system and went with something else. He noted that there was a standard existing for such a system and that he would have been better able to obtain the system approval had he referenced the standard from the start.
Oh, we did get our RPA project completed also!