Featured Articles

By John Anderson, FLIR Thermal imaging tools integrated with moisture meters can speed up the post-hurricane recovery process, improve repair quality, and add to contractor credibility. A thermal imaging camera can help you identify moisture areas faster and can lead to more accurate inspections with fewer call backs for verification by insurance companies. Many times Read More

By John Anderson, FLIR

Thermal imaging tools integrated with moisture meters can speed up the post-hurricane recovery process, improve repair quality, and add to contractor credibility. A thermal imaging camera can help you identify moisture areas faster and can lead to more accurate inspections with fewer call backs for verification by insurance companies. Many times, a good thermal image sent via email may be sufficient documentation to authorize additional work, leading to improved efficiency in the repair process.

Post-event process

Contractors need to be able to evaluate water damage quickly and accurately after a hurricane or other storm event. This can be a challenge using traditional tools, especially pinless (non-invasive) moisture meters that offer a nondestructive measurement of moisture in wood, concrete and gypsum. Operating on the principle of electrical impedance, pinless moisture meters read wood using a scale of 5 to 30 percent moisture content (MC); they read non-wood materials on a relative scale of 0 to 100 percent MC. [1] While simple to use, identifying damage with any traditional moisture meter alone is a tedious process, often requiring at least 30 to 40 readings. And the accuracy of the readings is only as good as the user’s ability to find and measure all the damaged locations.

Using a thermal imaging camera along with a moisture meter is much more accurate. These cameras work by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by objects in the scene. The sensor takes the energy and translates it into a visible image. The viewer sees temperatures in the image as a range of colors: red, orange and yellow indicate heat, while dark blue, black or purple signifies colder temperatures associated with evaporation or water leaks and damage. Using this type of equipment speeds up the process and tracks the source of the leak—providing contractors with a visual to guide them and confirm where the damage is located. Even a basic thermal imaging camera, one that is used in conjunction with a smart phone, is far quicker and more accurate at locating moisture damage than a typical noninvasive spot meter.

Infrared Guided Measurement (IGM)

An infrared (IR) thermal imaging camera paired with a moisture meter is a great combination. The user can find the cold spots with the thermal camera and then confirm moisture is present with the moisture meter. This combination is widely used today, prompting FLIR to develop the MR176 infrared guided measurement (IGM™) moisture meter. This all-in-one moisture meter and thermal imager allows contractors to use thermal imaging and take moisture meter readings for a variety of post-storm cleanup tasks. These include inspecting the property, preparing for remediation, and—during remediation— assessing the effectiveness of dehumidifying equipment. The tool can also be used down the road after remediation to identify leaks that may—or may not—be related to the hurricane.

During the initial property inspection, the thermal imaging camera visually identifies cold spots, which are usually associated with moisture evaporation. Without infrared imaging, the user is left to blindly test for moisture—and may miss areas of concern altogether.

While preparing for remediation, a tool that combines a thermal imaging camera with a relative humidity and temperature (RH&T) sensor can provide contractors with an easy way to calculate the equipment they will need for the project. This type of tool measures the weight of the water vapor in the air in grains per pound (GPP), relative humidity, and dew point values. Restoration contractors know how many gallons of water per day each piece of equipment can remove and, using the data provided by the meter, can determine the number of dehumidifiers needed in a given space to dry out the area.

The dehumidifiers reduce moisture and restores proper humidity levels, preventing the build-up of air toxins and neutralizing odors from hurricane water damage. Since the equipment is billed back to the customer or insurance company on a per-hour basis, contractors must balance the costs with the need for full area coverage.

During remediation, moisture meters with built-in thermal imaging cameras provide key data that contractors can use to spot check the drying process and equipment effectiveness over time. In addition, thermal imaging can be used to identify areas that may not be drying as efficiently as others and can guide the placement of drying equipment.

The equipment is also useful after the fact, if, for example, contractors are looking to identify the source of small leaks that may or may not be related to the damage from the hurricane. Using a moisture meter/thermal camera combination can help them track the location and source of the moisture, as well as determine how much is remaining.

Remodeling contractors who need to collect general moisture data can benefit from thermal imaging moisture meters, as well. For example, tracing a leak back to its source can be a challenge. A leak in an attic may originate in one area of the roof and then run down into different parts of the structure. A moisture meter equipped with a thermal imager can help them determine where the leak actually started by tracing a water trail up the roof rafter to the entrance spot.

Choosing the right technology

A variety of thermal imaging tools are available, depending upon whether the contractor is looking for general moisture information, or needs more precise information on temperature and relative humidity levels.

For example, the FLIR MR176 IGM™ moisture meter with replaceable hygrometer is an all-in-one tool equipped with a built-in thermal camera that can visually guide contractors to the precise spot where they need to measure moisture. An integrated laser and crosshair helps pinpoint the surface location of the issue found with the thermal camera. The meter comes with an integrated pinless sensor and an external pin probe, which gives contractors the flexibility to take either non-intrusive or intrusive measurements.

Coupled with a field-replaceable temperature and relative humidity sensor, and automatically calculated environmental readings, the MR176 can quickly and easily produce the right measurements during the hurricane restoration and remediation process. Users can customize thermal images by selecting which measurements to integrate, including moisture, temperature, relative humidity, dew point, vapor pressure and mixing ratio. They can also choose from several color palates, and use a lock-image setting to prevent extreme hot and cold temperatures from skewing images during scanning.

Also available is the FLIR MR160, which is a good tool for remodeling contractors looking for general moisture information, for example, pinpointing drywall damage from a washing machine, finding the source of a roof leak that is showing up in flooring or drywall, as well as locating ice dams. It has many of the features of the MR176 but does not include the integrated RH&T sensor.

Capturing images with a thermal camera builds contractor trust and credibility

Capturing images of hurricane-related damage with a thermal camera provides the type of documentation that builds contractor credibility and increases trust with customers. These images help customers understand and accept contractor recommendations. Credibility increases when customers are shown images demonstrating conclusively why an entire wall must be removed and replaced.

When customers experience a water event, proper photo documentation can bolster their insurance claims. The inclusion of thermal images will definitely improve insurance payout outcomes and speed up the process.

Post-storm cleanup tool for the crew

By providing basic infrared imaging functions, in combination with multiple moisture sensing technologies and the calculations made possible by the RH&T sensor, an imaging moisture meter such as the MR176 is a tool the entire remediation crew can carry during post-storm cleanup.
References

[1] Types of Moisture Meters, https://www.grainger.com/content/qt-types-of-moisture-meters-346

Every year Mechanical Hub is honored to sponsor a plumbing apprenticeship contest entrant, and this year’s PHCC CONNECT in Albuquerque is no different. “Being entered into this contest is an honor. Competing against the best of the best in my trade is a feeling that I cannot explain. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity; I Read More

Every year Mechanical Hub is honored to sponsor a plumbing apprenticeship contest entrant, and this year’s PHCC CONNECT in Albuquerque is no different. “Being entered into this contest is an honor. Competing against the best of the best in my trade is a feeling that I cannot explain. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity; I am thrilled to show people my passion for plumbing,” says fourth year apprentice, Chris Pinette, E.H. Marchant Co., a smaller union contractor through the local 12, based out of Quincy, Mass.

Most of E.H. Marchant’s work is doing tenant fit outs and restaurants; they also do work in several of the office buildings, hospitals, museums, breweries, schools, universities, sports arenas and many other places surrounding the heart of Boston. The company’s focus is filling the large towers, residential housing and office buildings that are starting to fill the Boston skyline. “My company has a successful service department that is continuing to grow. We have been part of the team that has helped build the Winn casino, which is due to open soon. We also have been a huge part in building up the seaport district in Boston that has been going through an unreal transformation,” says Pinette.

Pinette’s interest in the trades started when he was very young; his grandfather was a “jack-of-all-trades” and had a workshop in his own basement. “Growing up in his house, I had spent a lot of my time down there helping him with many of his projects. I learned a lot from him, and I grew interested in what we had worked on together.

Eventually, when it came down to making a decision on choosing a high school, Pinette, from Rehoboth, Mass., decided to attend a trade school—Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, Mass. “This was one of my best decisions I have made to help begin my career. After going through nine training programs at the high school, I narrowed down my search to metal fabrication and plumbing. After much deliberation, I made a final choice to explore the plumbing shop. This was the beginning of my career in plumbing,” says Pinette.

I chose plumbing, recalls Pinette, because it was fascinating to know how plumbing works. As with most in the trades, Pinette enjoys using his hands and he enjoys learning the science behind how plumbing works—knowing how systems are piped, what makes waste go from point A to B, how the atmosphere affects the system and how pressure works to move water. “It makes me believe that plumbers are partly scientist because they need to know how and why plumbing works in order for it to be efficient,” says Pinette.

There are many perks to the job and Pinette is thankful for being part of E.H. Marchant for the better part of four years. One of those perks is that Pinette has had the pleasure to work in a lot of “cool” places in Boston. “Every day is something new; working in these places never becomes a dull moment for me.”

Yet what Pinette enjoys most about plumbing is being able to look back at his own work and see his progress. “There is no better satisfaction than seeing my work become effective. Some people have told me they think plumbing is cut and dry, but there’s a lot more to it. Plumbing takes a lot of time and planning; I am always certain that everything in my projects moves as smoothly as it should. Knowing the time and effort I have put into it makes me proud of what I have done,” says Pinette.

Pinette started off as a truck driver delivering tools and material to the job sites. “During my first year working, I applied to local 12 and I was welcomed into the program. Since then I have been working at E.H. Marchant as an apprentice, with the motivation to run work in the future,” says Pinette.

For those thinking of entering the trades? Pinette would highly recommend the plumbing trade. According to Pinette, there is a ton of work out there if you are willing to get your hands dirty. “If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to listen and learn from the people you are working with and then choose what works for you. You’ll eventually form into the plumber you want to become with all you have learned from your teachers. Work hard and you will be rewarded for it in time,” says Pinette.

Heading into this week’s PHCC plumbing apprenticeship contest, Pinette is beyond thankful for this opportunity. “I am thrilled to show people my passion for plumbing. I am nervous along with feeling anxious because these are big shoes that need to be filled but I believe that I can do it. I was chosen to compete in the apprenticeship contest for a reason, and I cannot wait to show them what I am made of,” says Pinette.

 

Over the past few years, we’ve heard terms such as IoT, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) when referring to the future of construction, and one speaker in particular, at a plumbing and heating conference recently, scared the hell out of his audience by saying it’s not long now before humans—jobs in particular—will be taken over by Read More

Over the past few years, we’ve heard terms such as IoT, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) when referring to the future of construction, and one speaker in particular, at a plumbing and heating conference recently, scared the hell out of his audience by saying it’s not long now before humans—jobs in particular—will be taken over by “machines” and we should be very worried.

This month’s BIGGEXCHANGE International Symposium had a more level-headed approach to the future of the construction industry. In an effort to seek change and sustainable improvement throughout the construction industry, the two-day event—the brainchild of Dirk Rosenberg, and co-spearheaded by brothers Maik and Christof of Aquatherm—was hosted at the corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in Attendorn, Germany. “BIGGEXCHANGE is a good brand for social responsibility, sustainability and education,” says Dirk Rosenberg.

The brothers Rosenberg from l to r: Dirk, Maik and Christof.

Named after a nearby lake and the river that flows through the host site, BIGGE is also a play on words to symbolize “Big Buildings and Big Ideas,” and for leaders in the HVAC and construction industry to network and EXCHANGE ideas with fellow industry peers.

“If we don’t start communicating and build stronger alliances, we will never turn the construction industry into something more positive,” says Dirk Rosenberg, urging more collaboration on the jobsite. Usually, says Rosenberg, trade disciplines all act independently of each other, yet they are working on the same product, which is the building. “Bring people together and start communicating—architects, designers, engineers, contractors, distributors—to form a strong alliance to become successful.”

BIGGEXCHANGE Takeaways

Addressing some of the myths of the scary AI (and robotics), Matthias Horx posed the question: Is it true that 50% of jobs will disappear? “The future of the construction industry, in an age of digitization, still longs for interpersonal contact, and while trivial tasks may disappear, there will be a boom for human and interpersonal activity,” says Horx, of Zukunftsinstitut GmbH, a think tank to further develop prognostic techniques whose resulting knowledge and potential could be used both in the fields of business and politics. “Every trend has an existing counter trend. We either meet it and disperse, or we meet it and it turns into something greater,” says Horx.

Thought leaders from across the globe convened for the first BIGGEXCHANGE hosted by Aquatherm in Attendorn, Germany.

Presenter Stephen Butler, Autodesk, added, “Jobs in the future won’t be replaced, they will evolve.” By 2020, the robotics industry will create 240,000 jobs, he says.

But Butler’s presentation was more about the emerging trends in building design, with Urbanization and Sustainability—which need to go hand in hand—as focal points. According to the World Bank, says Butler, 9.7 billion people will populate the planet and 6.4 billion of them will be living in urban centers. Currently, commercial buildings consume 40% global energy, 25% global water and 30% greenhouse gas emissions.

Matthias Horx kicked off the event with his Power of Megatrends presentation.

During Dr. Ing. Alexander Rieck’s Future Construction Digital—How Building Will Change in the Digital Age, the topic of the lack of skilled tradespeople in the industry was broached. According to Rieck, digitization will help companies become faster, better and cheaper. “We cannot justify higher salaries to attract skilled labor without digital tools,” says Rieck, Fraunhofer IAO and LAVA.

Further, according to Rieck, the digital revolution will lead to creative architecture.

Piggybacking off of the concept of digitization, professor David Chua Kim Huat, National University of Singapore, emphasized reducing construction times and achieving higher profitability using BIM-based prefabrication in his Design for Manufacture and Assembly with BIM presentation.

The moderator (far left) talks to the panel from l to r: Arab Hoballah; Professor Brian Cody; Julia Goerke, thinkstep AG; Jordan Hardy, CEO, Aquatherm; and Jurgen Hahnrath, Cisco Systems GmbH.

Peter Heinrich, Heinrich GmbH-Communications agency, talked about corporate social responsibility in his “People, Planet, Profit—Sustainable Success with Sustainability and Communication” presentation, which talked about a company’s implementation of social, economic and environmental responsibility to society.

The event’s shift focused on day 2 to sustainable buildings as the highly anticipated Arab Hoballah, leader, SWITCH-ASIA SCP facility/Senior Sustainability Expert, opened with his “Climate Change & Resource Efficiency, the Sustainable Building Engine” presentation and his concern for the children and grandchildren on this planet as a result of climate change through inefficient buildings. “Yet there is optimism through transformative change,” says Hoballah. “We need to be proactive; it is up to us. Mitigating climate change starts with buildings.”

Arab Hoballah, right, is concerned, yet optimistic about the future.

Hoballah’s “urban metabolism” sees buildings similar to our own bodies, with positive impacts based on what is “ingested.” Pointing out the concept of effective circularity, “If we consume efficiently, population growth is not the problem,” says Hoballah. “Increasing consumption and a wasteful society are problems.” And one way to achieve this is through decoupling in manufacturing—a reduction of material intensity in products.

Hoballah ended his talk with four images: sticks, which represent laws; carrots, which represent incentives; tambourines, which represent making noise, understanding legislation and working together; and drums, which represent showing and being proud of your work.

The numbers are eye opening. (Stephen Butler, Autodesk)

Finally, the BIGGEXHCANGE finale featured a roundtable consisting of some of the presenters who gave opinions on the future of construction. “The only constant today is people, and we will continue to make the same mistakes if we don’t change,” says professor Brian Cody, TU Graz. Cody later said that laws and regulations need to change, “My whole life has been going around laws to build green buildings.”

Jurgen Hahnrath, Cisco Systems GmbH, says to stay curious, well informed and don’t be afraid. Jordan Hardy, CEO of Aquatherm North America, echoes the sentiment and says well-informed people and financial interests need to be aligned. Arab Hoballah says that the more we know, the more we move forward. “Behind the curtain there is light. We can do it.”

The Rosenberg’s will continue to push the message in future BIGGE events. “Starting tomorrow we have to put more energy into this to keep connecting,” says Dirk Rosenberg. “This is only the starting point.”

Members of the trade media gather with the Rosenberg brothers.

Our very own Made in the USA boots!

My boots are possibly the most important tools I own. For the past twenty years, I have owned at least a couple dozen different pairs of work boots. Unlike my favorite copper tubing cutter or pipe wrench, a pair of boots won’t likely last any one of us multiple years and work as well as Read More

My boots are possibly the most important tools I own. For the past twenty years, I have owned at least a couple dozen different pairs of work boots. Unlike my favorite copper tubing cutter or pipe wrench, a pair of boots won’t likely last any one of us multiple years and work as well as the day they were new. Yet we rely on our boots sometimes for 15-20 hours a day, batter them with dirt, dust, mud, rain, snow, water and more. Our boots aren’t much different than any of our other tools, with the wrong pair our jobs are harder, less efficient.

We recently had the opportunity to tour the KEEN Utility headquarters in Portland, Oregon to learn all about this relatively young company; how it got its start and where they’re heading in the future.

In 2003 the KEEN shoe company emerged with the now iconic Newport sandal; most would recognize the Newport sandal because of its rubber toe cap. Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst were co-founders of the brand and shortly after they founded KEEN started, Martin KEEN ventured out to pursue other creative and business interests. Rory Fuerst has remained a passionately dedicated owner, driving KEEN, Inc. to new heights every year including introducing KEEN Utility and safety footwear in 2010.

Don’t mistake KEEN and KEEN Utility as one in the same

Hiking boots are for hiking or camping and I doubt your steel toes are your go-to footwear for your next trip to the Tetons. The construction materials, process and whole design of KEEN Utility work boots differs in many ways from the parent company’s hiking boots. Simply stated, KEEN Utility boots are built to handle the tough demands of the job site, hiking boots are not.

Made in the USA

Let’s face the facts, the majority of KEEN’s shoes and boots are not made in the United States but the same can be said about nearly all other footwear companies in the work boot market however, KEEN Utility is manufacturing multiple models and styles at their Portland manufacturing factory. The list of USA made boots is available the KEEN Utility website.

Our tour included a most memorable experience as we actually built our own boots! From the very first steps of assembly to packaging, we all walked away with our own boots and it was a really cool experience.

Our very own Made in the USA boots!

Our very own Made in the USA boots!

What’s coming?

Women’s work boots are typically just smaller sized men’s boots clad in different colors, this is a problem women face when selecting protective boots. The KEEN team is changing that by leaving the “shrink-it and pink it” business model for other manufacturers; they’ve been working for a couple years now with ONLY women to design a complete line of protective, high performing work boots based on true women sizes. The new designs will hit market in 2019 and are promised to fit better than other “women’s” boots available today. We anticipate the launch to be well received and plan to post reviews from our female ProStaff members when the new boots are made available to the team.

KEEN Utility offers a complete and comprehensive line of work boots for all trades. You can find more information on www.keenfootwear.com/work/

 

Men's San Jose 6", aluminum toe

Men’s San Jose 6″, aluminum toe

 

MegaPress XL fittings have started to be installed throughout the country as contractors discover the benefits of having carbon steel press fittings up to 4″ in diameter. The first installation in the United States took place at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver last November. The XL products were installed as part of an Read More

MegaPress XL fittings have started to be installed throughout the country as contractors discover the benefits of having carbon steel press fittings up to 4″ in diameter. The first installation in the United States took place at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver last November.

The XL products were installed as part of an update and repair at the school, which offers degrees in divinity, theological studies, pastoral and spiritual care and more. Though just a handful of MegaPress XL fittings were needed, it still marked a milestone as one of the first installations of XL in North America.

A crew from Braconier Mechanical and Plumbing Services removed an old pump and reconfigured the system for the replacement air-cooled chiller on the roof of the building. New air handlers were installed in the attic. The aging building, sections of which are more than 100 years old, had many parts of the mechanical system that needed to be replaced.

Because part of the installation was located in the ceiling of a main hallway, using Viega products made sense so as to shorten the repair time and make conditions safer for staff and students, without having to close down the area for welding.

Braconier has been a big user of Viega products for years, so the crew was interested in installing the MegaPress XL fittings and to give the MegaPress XL PressBooster a whirl. The PressBooster is an extension for the 300 series RIDGID ® tools to press larger-diameter fittings.

“This is new technology. To stay competitive in the industry we have to grab a hold and run with it,” said Braconier foreman Paul Swango.

Read about it here.