DCN ARCHIVES

February 17, 2006

Hydronic technology flowing fast

With demand growing for wet-heating systems, the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) wants to establish a new certification program for installers of hot-water systems.

The CIPH has hired Jack Keon, a 50-year veteran of the wet-heating industry, to lobby and work with Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to create an apprenticeship and certification program for the hydronic (wet-heating) industry.

Jack Keon

To work towards this goal, Keon will serve as a consultant to the Canadian Hydronics Council, which represents the interests of the wet-heating industry within the CIPH.

Wet-heating systems use boilers to heat and then circulate hot water for various uses, including space heating via baseboards and panel radiators, under-floor heating, domestic hot water, snow melting, and heating pools and hot tubs.

“This segment of our industry has grown tremendously over the past number of years,” said Ralph Suppa, president of the CIPH.

“The hydronic installers and the mechanical contractors are seeing this growth and we want to ensure that these guys are trained properly to design and install hydronic heating systems.”

Keon, formerly vice-president of Niagara Plumbing Supply, said increasing average house sizes and the growing popularity of today’s in-home comfort systems are driving the need for wet-heating certification.

Keon said large houses of more than 2,500 square feet with four or more bedrooms are now fairly common. And many of these homes have hybrid heating and cooling systems — forced air for space heating and hydronic systems for under-floor heating, melting snow and pool or hot tub heating.

The result is wet-heating systems that are larger and more technically advanced than they once were.

“With larger homes and more diversified environmental systems within the house, there’s a need for people to be trained in installing these systems and how they work,” Keon said. “There’s more technology involved in the hot water heating end of the business. It’s gone beyond what a plumber traditionally does.”

Keon said much of the curriculum for the certification program has already been jointly written by the CIPH, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

“The curriculum just has to be parachuted in.

“The biggest challenge is getting to the right people in government circles and being able to plead our case,” said Keon, adding that as well as changing industry needs, recently implemented provincial regulations also justify creating a certification program for hydronic installers.

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