In my never-ending quest for knowledge, I hit a bump in the road when I came to plumbing and specifically, mechanical systems. I wanted to learn about radiant floor heating control systems, and found extremely little information on it. My friend Carlos Martinez loaned me a book by Dan Holohan regarding the history of radiant heat. The title of this book is "Hydronic Radiant Heating- A Practical Guide for the Non-Engineer". I'm an Engineer, but I still loved this book! It turns out that the Europeans have been using radiant floor heating since the seventies. Amazing how many good ideas come from Europe. They had figured out a way to design reliable flexible piping that didn't let oxygen pass. They used polyethylene and came up with some ways to cross-link it to make it stronger and block oxygen transfer. I knew right away this was a cool thing. As a side note, us yankees gave up when we realized that copper pipe embedded in concrete suffered from an some sort of reaction (ion exchange) that created pinhole leaks. We gave up on it until the polybutylene scandal.
I pursued getting quotes for a small job and didn't agree with the methods proposed, nor the price offered. I searched for a source of materials, but was unable to find any. I did some research and found out that this was not by accident, but by design. I was so dissapointed!
I had a rude awakening when I decided to learn about plumbing and mechanical systems. The PHCC-NA, Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of North America went so far as to develop a secret consortium of manufacturers, distributors and installers. Professional Product Line, or PPL. The PPL as proposed and later implemented, would restrict the sale of ALL plumbing, heating, cooling and mechanical products to only licensed, professional plumbers. This means that a homeowner would not be able to replace a washer on a sink, replace a sink, or do anything else related to plumbing or heating. Nevermind the fact that they drew plans, had them reviewed and approved, paid their permit fees and submitted their work to regular inspections. Luckily, not all manufacturers are part of this consortium. Many are, however, which may explain why the best products are simply not available to the general public.
The origin of this mutated train of thought based on safety. The PPL has nothing to do with safety, it has everything to do with a certain group of people protecting their $150 minimum charge to fix a leaky faucet.
Most people don't want to do their own plumbing and are willing to pay $90 an hour for this service. However, we live in a country called America, which was founded on a number of basic principles. Some of these principles are: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, equality, fairness. The PPL restricts the rights of ordinary people by restricting competition and eliminated the free market. It is the right of a company to refuse service to anyone they choose, but shouldn't it also be a right for any person to be able to purchase products? We're not talking about weapons of mass destruction here, we're talking about piping that moves air, water and gas from point a to point b.
Delta Faucets was originally a member of the PPL, but then for some reason changed their mind. Currently, they have 9 of their faucets under PPL, with upgraded features. They probably realized that the DIY market at Home Depot and Lowes was so huge that to stop selling to that market was hari-kari. They decided on a compromise that works for everyone.
I don't mind paying more than a contractor for a product, as long as I can still buy it. Let's face it, most DIY's are a little ignorant about most things. The potential mistakes can be serious, if not fatal. I believe that "buyer beware" applies to this situation. We also ask a lot of questions, wasting employee's time. That's why the contractor gets paid the big bucks, as they are the interface to the homeowner.
Interestingly enough, the acronym "PPL" entered into a search engine serves no purpose. Since most plumbing deals with either a supply for materials, or supply lines for water or gas, suPPLy comes up very often. A better set of terms is PHCCNA ppl -supply.
PHCCNA describes their vision of the PPL.
On the flip side, there are people in this country who seek to educate the masses and increase utilization of efficient and safe mechanical systems. These people include John Siegenthaler and Dan Holohan. They have both written a great number of articles and books on heating. Way to go, guys!
O.K., so I purchase this Sottini Alchemy faucet from Lowes, install the thing at home and the threads obviously don't fit. It has the faucet lines already installed. I have 1/2" copper lines coming out of the wall. The fittings re 5/8"OD by 3/8"OD, your standard faucet fitting right? Well, the lines from the faucet don't fit! The diameter is correct, but the threads are the wrong pitch. There is no info on the net to explain what is happening... Are european threads different? Are they BSP, maybe they are 10 or 12mm? I know Sottini is a European company, maybe the put European fittings on this one faucet by mistake Strange thing is, I go back to Lowes and try the same fitting on the faucet in the store and they work just fine. Another mystery caused by lack of human cooperation..
Bring the new faucet home (Lowes was very helpful) and install it. It didn't leak, but wouldn't turn on. Took it all apart (3 times) and realized that the ceramic slide valve element was frozen in place. I'm not sure how this would happen, but I bet I'm not the only one with this problem. Before you take the faucet out of the store, make sure the handle moves not only side to side, but up and down as well. I wasn't about to make a FOURTH trip to Lowes, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. With a small block of wood, a soft backing and a hammer, I managed to free the ceramic element. Put everything back together and it works great. Doesn't Sottini test anything? They obviously don't test their website because it ended up spitting out this error page. I couldn't scroll down to see the bottom of it. Nice graphics, but it doesn't work. I would prefer a text-only page with product specifications/options. Functionality should always come before flair.