By William G. Beazley, PhD, PE



Piping designers and engineers who typically ignore the opportunities in the residential and commercial/mechanical market may not realize how complex these piping/plumbing systems have become.  A residential house, for example, may handle five or six separate fluids with different properties, with pumps, exchangers, boilers, sensors, actuated valves and complex control systems.  Piping materials range from black iron, cast iron, stainless, copper, brass, PVC, PEX, etc.  Joining systems vary widely from threaded pipe, to flared tubing, glued, expanded and specialty systems.  It’s simply short-sighted to dismiss residential and other building applications as, “plumbing.”  Many of these systems were on display at the International Builder’s Show (IBS) in Orlando, FL, January, 2017.


   Click schematic below for enlarged view


Hvac Home Piping Sped


Consider the fluids found in a typical house.  These might include: 


Potable Water Systems:

- Hot water
- Cold water


- Water additives and Treatments
- Glycol and other heat transfer fluids

Waste Water:

- Sewerage
- Gray Water
- Black Water
- Irrigation Water of Various Quality and Composition


- Natural Gas
- Propane
- Butane
- Heated Air
- Return Air
- Fresh Air

Waste Gases:

- Dryer Exhaust
- Combustion Products
- Stove Vents
- Internal Air Exhaust to Outside
- Vacuum Systems




Each of these systems can have several systems of piping, tubing, ducting and other transport mediums. 


Each transport medium can have its own valves and fittings.


PVF is designed to connect using one or more specialized joining systems with its own tools and consumables.


Most people are familiar with water heaters and their big brothers the boiler.  Today’s water heater might be supplemented or replaced by solar collectors or tank-less water heaters.  The hot water might also deliver heat to an air heater or glycol-based underfloor heating system. So, heat exchangers of all kinds are found in the modern house.


Control systems with pipes, valves, actuators and sensors are also part of today’s smart house or smart building. The design and support of these mechanical systems require methods nearly identical to process plants, with most smaller pipe field routed and larger pipe “roughed in” before structures (slabs, etc.) are completed.  Even medium-sized residences have dedicated mechanical areas, panels, closets or rooms to control and distribute fluids and signals throughout the house.


The bottom line is that piping and plumbing principles apply in the residential and commercial building industry.  As this market grows, so should the opportunities for piping designers and engineers.


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