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Saniflo Donates Plumbing Systems to Virginia Technical Institute for Use in Updated Plumbing Lab and Training Facility
Saniflo’s Sanibest Pro and Sanicom 1 donations enable VTI plumbing school to provide practical experience and in-depth product knowledge to first- and second-year students.
ALTAVISTA, VIRGINIA — Every year, students with bright futures work to gain skills in the trades by attending Virginia Technical Institute (VTI). The Altavista-based nonprofit provides hands-on training in various fields, including electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, welding, pipe-fitting, carpentry, masonry, and multi-craft industrial maintenance. Unique to VTI is the leadership training that further enhances the students’ opportunities in the marketplace.
According to the school’s plumbing instructor Bob Hefner, VTI held the largest plumbing class it has ever had in Fall of 2022, totaling 25 students. “Students can take a short course, for example, one quarter, or VTI’s two-year certificate or work towards a Technical Studies Associate Degree when they enroll through Liberty University,” Hefner explains.
“Approximately half of the students are street technicians that are gainfully employed, as that is a requirement for eligibility to sit for the journeyman licenses in the state of Virginia,” he continues. “If they want to complete their journeyman’s license, they take the two-year program two nights a week and work within the profession up to 40 hours a week.”
VTI’s plumbing program grows yearly and has the largest plumbing class the school has ever had to date this year. Hefner notes how neat it is to see the interaction between individuals working in the field daily and the college students just starting out.
A plumbing instructor’s vision comes to life.
When Hefner started teaching as VTI’s plumbing instructor four years ago, one of his goals was to create a plumbing lab — a working indoor training facility where students could gain practical experience.
“The lab grows every year, recently expanding into a four-room facility, including a full kitchen, residential bathroom facilities with showers, a bathtub, urinals and toilets,” he explains. In addition, they also have an equipment room to service these areas.
“Being a technical teaching program lends opportunities that most companies really don’t think about,” he says. “I have the ability to take cutting-edge equipment, such as the above-floor plumbing technology Saniflo has provided, and teach proper troubleshooting techniques and solutions to our students. This allows the school to put top-notch, qualified technicians on the street at graduation.”
Thanks to donations from various plumbing manufacturing companies like SFA Saniflo, VTI has improved its plumbing lab by converting an old loading dock into a tiny home.
Underneath the home, they replicated a crawlspace, allowing students to run piping below the floor. This way, students can check for leaks and perform other functions, making it a “real-world” experience. Other students in related trades can also utilize the tiny home for HVAC, electrical, carpentry, etc.
Practical product training for first and second-year VTI students.
During training classes, first and second-year students worked with the Sanicom 1 and Sanibest Pro systems in the school’s training lab, which created a realistic learning environment. According to Hefner, second-year students assisted first-year students in the design and installation and worked on developing the troubleshooting lab.
“The technical students, who are used to more traditional plumbing equipment, were fascinated by the Saniflo systems,” says Hefner. “They truly enjoyed assembling the units, using the installation instructions and pictures that came with the products as a guide.”
Hefner notes that some of his students suggested they connect clear PVC to the Saniflo units for the discharge and drain pipes. The idea originated from a recent demonstration on Saniflo’s traveling training van, which was held at the plumbing school. The piping used with the working systems on the van is clear, so contractor personnel can see how well the macerators and grinders break up and discharge waste without gravity flow.
At the loading dock where the tiny home is located, there is an active drainage system. The discharge piping coming from the Saniflo units in the lab is hooked to that system, which eventually discharges into part of the sewer system within the school complex.
According to Hefner, a vanity is connected and will drain into the Sanibest Pro, in addition to the Saniflo toilet that is connected to that grinder pump.
The Sanibest Pro is typically used to install a complete bathroom up to 25 feet below the sewer line or up to 150-feet away from the soil stack. This one-horsepower pump system contains three inlets to handle drainage for a full bathroom. Aside from the 4-inch inlet for toilet connection, a 2-inch inlet on either side of the unit easily connects to other sanitary fixtures — a sink, a bathtub or a shower — to drain gray water.
The top of the unit houses a 1.5-inch vent port and .75-inch discharge connection. A service panel on top of the pump allows for easy access to all components inside.
The grinder pump connects to a toilet equipped with a horizontal rear discharge spigot, while the toilet tank connects to the water supply. The pump connects to the small-diameter discharge pipework, the sewer vent, and the electrical supply.
Hefner was also able to obtain two large laundry sinks, resembling restaurant sinks, that will drain into the Sanicom 1. Designed for commercial and residential applications, the Sanicom 1 can discharge gray water away from a variety of fixtures up to 25 feet vertically and/or 250 feet horizontally. Small enough to fit inside a kitchen cabinet, the unit was designed to meet the toughest applications.
The Sanicom 1 can handle up to 194°F water, making it perfect for commercial kitchen applications where dishwashers must operate at exceptionally high temperatures to meet health and sanitation standards.
Wastewater enters the Sanicom 1 via a pair of 2-inch inlets located on either side of the pump housing. A non-return valve provided with the system prevents backflow into the unit, which also has a vent connection on top. (All plumbing codes require a connection to a vent system.)
Practical experience leads to unique, jobsite know-how.
“My students have really enjoyed working with these systems, so much so that some have recommended Saniflo’s technology on job sites,” says Hefner. “So, we have their buy-in, and they seem excited about it.”
Saniflo’s donations have allowed VTI students to get into another area of plumbing with the pump system and toilet system, according to Hefner. “I try to keep the lab open during the summer,” he continues. “We get many visitors and, because of how visual it is, the setup allows others to see what students work on during the year.”
When it comes time to start a new school year, the school will strip the labs and set the materials on the side again, so that other students can start fresh on the projects. “When we finish these programs, we can disconnect the piping from the systems to start from scratch with new students,” explains Hefner, adding that he hopes to have shower additions, so students can work on various plumbing projects.
Saniflo and VTI have built a mutually beneficial relationship through the former’s product donations. Saniflo has conducted numerous macerator and grinder product-installation training sessions at VTI’s plumbing school, including training on the installation of HVAC and electrical components.
With Saniflo systems available for training classes, Hefner’s students gain installation experience with a unique, innovative plumbing solution. Not only are the students able to witness system drainage through the transparent pipe design, but they are also able to observe pump operation in a residential and commercial setting.
“Saniflo has contributed a long-term and very valuable addition to our plumbing department,’’ concludes Hefner. “Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”
SFA SANIFLO U.S.A. – whose parent company originated macerating plumbing technology — offers a complete line of waste and drainage pumping systems for residential and commercial applications. Saniflo developed its innovative, “above-floor plumbing” technology more than a half-century ago and has led its commercialization worldwide. Today, the company markets macerating technology through 24 subsidiaries in 50 countries and has sold more than seven million units worldwide since 1958. Saniflo markets through independent sales agents throughout North America, and the product line is currently available at distributor and dealer locations throughout the United States and Canada.
For more information, contact Saniflo at 1-800-571-8191. Or visit the Saniflo website at saniflo.com.
For editorial assistance, including photography, contact John O’Reilly c/o GreenHouse Digital + PR: 708-428-6385 or [email protected].