When balancing a Domestic Hot Water System (DHWS), the goal is to ensure hot water is consistently available at every fixture throughout a building on-demand.
This can be difficult with manual balancing methods, which can deplete time, money, and labor resources.
Multiple contractors must manually balance one valve at a time, often revisiting the same valve several times to adjust for inadequate flow or temperature throughout the system.
The manual balancing process is both laborious and time-consuming. In the end, it may still result in future callbacks as system demands evolve because they cannot react to dynamic changes in the DHWS.
In comparison, thermostatic balancing valves like ThermOmegaTech’s CircuitSolver® valves use thermal actuator technology to automatically and continuously adjust flow through a domestic hot water recirculation system.
These self-actuating valves are installed at the end of each branch or riser before the return line to monitor the water temperature and will modulate open and closed to maintain a set temperature in each supply line.
How CircuitSolver® Thermostatic Balancing Valves Operate:
During the initial start-up of a DHWS, the valves are wide open and will begin to close once the system temperature requirements are met. During post-startup operation, each valve operates independently, establishing flow as needed to meet the system’s variable hot water demands throughout the day.
The valves will never fully close, always allowing a small amount of bypass of flow to the return to avoid dead-heading the recirculation pump during low usage.
CircuitSolver® is a temperature device that solves a temperature problem.
Through this entirely hands-off method, a DHWS using CircuitSolver® valves is balanced in a short time and can dynamically adapt to evolving system needs.
Compared to these thermostatic balancing valves, manual valves are simplistic, antiquated, and produce high labor costs.
We surveyed plumbing contractors nationwide on domestic hot water system balancing costs and determined that CircuitSolver® thermostatic balancing valves generate significant cost savings by eliminating manual balancing labor.
The survey collected data on total costs associated with balancing a system, including labor time, employee salaries, required contractors per job, frequency of callbacks, and materials used. Below are the findings on the average cost of balancing the DHWS of a 10-story building.
One of the major headaches for engineers and contractors in today’s complicated construction projects is properly balancing multi-loop systems.
Getting these systems properly balanced initially and having them stay balanced over the life of the building has, until now, been nearly an impossible job.
Furthermore, with today’s emphasis on more efficient building design and better operation and management, many practices of the past are no longer adequate or acceptable. No process or system can be ignored when looking for improvements. Even the seemingly simple task of supplying domestic hot water to all areas of a building requires another look to ensure that the most current and efficient methods are being employed.
In this article, we are going to take a look at DHWS, how balancing multi-loop systems works, and what some of the newest trends and technologies have to offer.
DHWS are designed to keep the hot water supply at the desired target temperature and to minimize wait times and the wasting of water at the fixtures waiting for the hot water to arrive.
Note: The correct hot water design temperatures are a separate subject as to scalding versus Legionella control and are not a part of this article.
In order to have hot water at all locations, the circulator pump must send water through the system fast enough to overcome any heat loss in the circulating piping system. To ensure this target is maintained, the engineer selects the pump and piping so that the flow rate through the system is high enough to maintain the necessary temperature, but not so high as to cause excessive noise and potential pipe erosion due to excessive velocity in the piping.
Furthermore, the engineer must remember that the temperature drop across the system is dependent on the quantity of water circulated.
See the ASPE Domestic Water Heating Design Manual for further data.
The facts are frightening – especially since the problem can be avoided.
Consider this: As many as one in 10 patients hospitalized in the U.S. contracts an infection, according to the Wall Street Journal. That means nearly 2 million patients annually are infected by bacterium or other agents.
The end result?
The cost is nearly 100,000 deaths and $6.5 billion in overall losses.
Hand washing is a long-standing means of fighting such infections. Doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees, as well as patients and guests, constantly wash their hands typically using hot water to do so.
The supply of hot water — and the time in which it is delivered – makes an efficiently designed domestic hot water system paramount in a hospital. And that makes thermostatically controlled hot water flow control valves just what the doctors ordered. Unfortunately, these valves aren’t used as often as they should.
Normally, a domestic hot water system is manually balanced. Enough hot water flows at a rate to ensure that when a faucet is turned on, heated water is quickly delivered at a specified temperature set point – often 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To achieve this, the system is balanced with manually operated valves opened to produce the desired flow rate.
With multiple endpoints at sinks and showers, balancing usually requires two or more plumbing contractors. They must spend significant amounts of time between the hot water supply and the loop that services a particular bank of sinks or other fixtures, tweaking flow rates until the desired temperature is delivered.
A better method of achieving hot water balancing while using a fraction of the labor is to use a thermostatically controlled valve that opens and closes mechanically based on a temperature set point. For a hospital, this design has many advantages.
One major advantage is the cost reduction realized from the reduced flow. Using a thermostatically controlled valve only requires hot water flow when the temperature drops — not the constant flow that a manually balanced system needs.
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