Plumbers, Pipe Fitters, Sheet Metal Workers, … Oh My!

Eden Davis and Lauren Millard
Turner Construction Company & Fagan Company 
The Interns are back again for job site visit #2 and Turner Construction Company has officially completed the demolition process. There is exciting progress happening this week! Turner is working on framing and installing a grand staircase right at the heart of the Science Atrium. With floor-to-ceiling windows drawing in natural sunlight and eye-catching graphics adorning the top of the stairs, the new staircase is sure to make a statement. The roof will be completed this week and the new build is being waterproofed and fireproofed to code.
After shifting their focus from touring the job site, the interns connected with Fagan Company to learn about plumbing, heating, and cooling. Fagan Company provides comprehensive mechanical contracting, and maintenance services for commercial, industrial, and institutional projects. They provide plumbers, pipe fitters, and sheet metal workers to design, build, and maintain plumbing, heating, and cooling systems.
Plumbers vs. Pipefitters: Both are employed by companies such as Fagan for commercial and residential work, but what is the difference?
  • Plumbers: Install and maintain water and gas piping. Plumbers take on a generalist role and fulfill tasks that don’t require specialized licensing. Tasks include fixing a garbage disposal, installing a bathtub, or fixing a washing machine.
  • Pipefitters: Install and maintain pipes for chemicals, gas, and specialized piping. Pipefitters take on the role of specialized plumber and they fulfill the tasks that do require specialized licensing. Tasks include installing and maintaining commercial heating and cooling systems and hydraulic systems.
At Sion these professionals installed a special corrosive waste drainage system in the labs for proper chemical waste disposal and three air handling units (AHU) on the rooftop. AHUs supply conditioned air throughout a building. Depending on the design, this air can be outside air, return air, or a combination.
Students used a set of plans to cut, connect, assemble, and model a heating and cooling system.
Nichole Evans, Fagan’s HR/Safety/IT Manager, and Parker Straight, an intern at Fagan, explained the process of how a chiller, cooling tower, and AHUs work together to condition and distribute air. AHUs collect outside air, filter it, and circulate the air throughout the space. Chillers function to generate cold water (chilled water) that is cycled through a closed loop system which includes the AHUs cooling coil. The AHU then forces the air across its coil, cooling it down to the temperature demanded by the input on a thermostat. Cooling towers work in combination with chillers to remove unwanted heat from the water in the chilled water loop, keeping the chilled water at the correct temperature for the system to work as designed.
Students took a set of plans and determined how much piping and fitting were needed to build the heating and cooling system. They learned that the system consisted of two closed loops and how different facets of a heating/cooling system work in tandem. 
Parker Straight, an intern at Fagan, demonstrates how heat rises with a windmill activity. The lamp heats the air in the cone which rises through the small opening at the top and spins the windmill. Try it at home!