A contractor’s perspective on press technology

In April, Phc News presented insight on pipe joining from the International Code Council (ICC). In that conversation, the subject of press technology came up. This month, the conversation on press technology continues, but from the contractor’s point of view.

Botto Brothers is a plumbing and heating company based in, Hickville, N.Y., which started in1937. The company offers a wide range of solutions for residential and commercial clients, including installations, repairs and renovations. Hunter Botto currently sits at the helm of the company as president. Under his leadership, the company has not just been an active member of Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), but also an advocate. In the following, Botto weighs in on his experience with press technology through his company and PHCC.

PHC: As a member of PHCC, have you gathered that the industry is interested in press technology?

HB: I know locally in our PHCC group, which probably represents 65 contractors, a fair amount of them, I can almost say a majority, are using press technology. It’s a “the bigger the job the more the savings” kind of thing. There were just a handful of us who were hesitant, but once a fair amount of us jumped on board it was almost a regular thing.

PHC: Personally, are you interested in press technology?

HB: I enjoy my PHCC family up here for the fact that we do share new technology amongst each other at our monthly meetings. That’s a big benefit. I would have never dove into press technology if I hadn’t talked to my buddies having a beer before a meeting and heard them say how great it was and that we should try it. PHCC has a nice crowd that we can bounce ideas off of. It’s a trickledown effect. If guys see me use something they’re more apt to try it. It’s nice to have that comradery where we can share ideas. Because obviously it helps us make more money, which we all like to do.

We had some projects where we had estimated doing modular boiler systems, which is larger diameter piping. We figured we would to do it all with solder, joints, and things like that. Fortunately, I ended up having to borrow one of my buddy’s tools and ended us using press technology. We were just amazed at how much faster we got the job done. The guys really embraced it because they weren’t in a smoke filled boiler room, soldering and breathing in all the unhealthy smoke that puts off. We don’t use it on every job. But on bigger jobs and also where we are doing water main repairs where we’re not able to shut water systems down 100 percent this product has really taken our work to another level. Where a job would take six to eight hours to do a repair on a water service, now we can do it in an hour or two. The customer is benefiting there because the price of the jobs is lower.

PHC: Specifically, what kind of savings have you seen with press technology?

HB: It does take fewer man hours when utilizing press technology. But also, I do see it where unskilled workers are able to do it, which saves also save on labor. Obviously, it comes down to dollars. That’s what we look at. We are always looking to make ourselves more efficient and the jobs more profitable. With time, I would say 40 to 50 percent as far as time saved. Also, there’s a reliability standpoint. Press technology is extremely reliable. Sometimes more reliable than soldering and thinks like that. There’s just less that can go wrong with it. In today’s day and age, when you’re starting to use larger diameter piping the smallest thing can affect a joint. And, it might not be within a month or a year, it could be three to five years down the road when you get a leaky joint. With the press technology I haven’t seen many, if any at all callbacks, for my jobs over the last five years. Reliability affects the bottom line.

PHC: How does press technology fair in terms of approvals at jobs from inspectors?

HB: Back in the beginning, inspectors were looking at press technology with crossed eyes. But now, it’s more commonplace. Actually, the new thing is gas press technology. It is out there but it has yet to be adopted. Although I have no issue with it, personally, we’re looking forward to seeing it widely accepted.

PHC: Do you have any advice about press technology for our readers?

HB: From a warranty standpoint, I’d have to say 90 percent of it is the installation. It’s not a slam dunk where you’re just pushing pipe together, pressing it, and running on. There’s prep work to do. You do have to be careful with it. Our technicians are trained in doing that so I don’t think I’ve seen any warranty issues with any of the products we use.

The key with press technology is really the preparation of the pipe. Because if you’re not prepping it, you’re not taking any burrs off of the copper, etc. then you can damage the gasket in the fitting. I have seen it happen. 

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