When you combine an aging building, extremely hot conditions, tight work spaces and a need for quick tie-in, Viega systems are the perfect answer to retrofit needs. 

That’s what contractors working on St. Joseph Villa in Salt Lake City, Utah, discovered. Rich Lobrovich and Chad Hustad, Project Managers for First Service Mechanical, used ProPress and MegaPress products in the building. The ease of use, plus the time saved with Viega, was huge. 

“Our pipefitters had to work around existing steam pipes to do this project, so they were working in confined areas,” Lobrovich said. “Installing large lengths of carbon steel pipe and using a threading machine in the boiler room would have been very difficult. There was so much intricate piping that it would have been a lot of cut and threaded pipe. So we decided to use MegaPress.” 

St. Joseph Villa is a nursing home, rehab and healthcare facility. They offer in-house therapy programs, an integrated cognitive program and rehab to return home options. The building had old steam heat exchangers that needed to be replaced, along with plenty of old, corroded pipes, giving the First Service Mechanical crew plenty to do. 

The original request was to replace the steam boilers in the facility; however, Lobrovich said he recommended ditching the old steam-heat exchangers and replacing them with hydronic flat-plate heat exchangers. An engineer determined there was enough capacity on the existing hydronic boilers for this suggestion, so the First Service Mechanical crew got to work. 

“There was so much intricate piping,” Lobrovich said. “We used a lot of sizes, from 1⁄2″ up to 2″, that we pressed. There was very little space to work with, in the back corner of an area. We didn’t even look at doing this project with anything other than Viega.” 

First Service Mechanical has used ProPress several times in the past, but this was their first venture with MegaPress. Hustad said his crew felt comfortable with it, since they already knew the tooling and process. 

“With this big job, we knew MegaPress would be a way to save on labor. We saved on an extreme amount of labor,” Lobrovich said. He estimated 150 MegaPress fittings were installed for the hydronic heat-exchanger project. 

“The time you’d need to measure, walk in another room, cut and thread the pipe and come back, it would have been time- consuming,” Lobrovich said. “We were able to cut the pieces and press and be done in probably 20 percent of the time it would have taken us to thread that pipe.” 

The company replaced another heat exchanger at the St. Joseph facility a few months later and is preparing to repipe the building next year, which will mean a lot more Viega fittings. 

Viega wasn’t specified to start with, but Hustad said First Service Mechanical offered it as a good way to make the project work, given the space confinements and time savings. The success of the hydronic heat-exchange project spurred the subsequent work at St. Joseph. 

“From our customer’s perspective, the tie-in was very quick in the middle of the winter. None of their live-in occupants were aware of the system downtime,” said Lobrovich. “This reduced the overall cost of the project.” 

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