Harrahs Resort

Builders of Harrah’s new $160 million high-rise hotel, located north of San Diego, wanted a plumbing system that would stand the test of time, so they decided to install polypropylene (PP-R) pipe. PP-R is a non-corroding material, so it doesn’t wear out and clog up after a few years of service.

Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Center, CA, takes its commitment to building a better playground seriously. The entertainment company’s most recent project encompasses a new 21-story Resort Tower that will accompany the existing casino and hotel.

The resort recently changed its name. It was formerly known as Harrah’s Rincon, after the American Indian reservation where it is located. Harrah’s operates the resort under a contract with the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. The new tower, the second high-rise tower at the Valley Center complex, formally opened on Friday, April 4.

Harrahs Resort

San Diego-based Sherwood Mechanical Inc. was the mechanical contractor on the job. They worked in sequence completing the plumbing installation six floors at a time.

The $160 million project includes a 403-room hotel (bringing the resort’s total room count to 1,065), an expansion of the pool venue, a new lobby lounge, a convention and entertainment center, and a new indoor/outdoor restaurant.

The Resort Tower project team knew that the supply of hot water needed to be delivered through an efficiently designed domestic hot water supply system to ensure that Harrah’s Resort presented a quality experience expected by guests.

Moreover, the facilities team didn’t want to worry about frequent maintenance or repairs. Traditional metal piping material was considered for the project, but alternative materials were also investigated for the domestic hot and cold water supply system. During the bid process the subcontractors brought Aquatherm to the table as a value engineering measure.

PP-R material resists scaling and corrosion and doesn’t react with water or dissolved chemicals, so it doesn’t wear out and isn’t affected by hard water like metal piping systems. PP-R’s hydrophobic properties repel water from its surface, protecting the pipe wall from erosion and leakage. Some PP-R piping systems also have heat stabilizing fiberglass extruded layers, which provide thermal expansion capabilities and protect plastic piping and fittings from temperature spikes.

Additionally, if the mechanical systems at Resort Tower ever malfunction, the domestic water supply won’t be affected by faulty pipes. However, if service or maintenance is ever needed, the systems were designed with piping drops that run the length of the floor to allow the facilities team to shut off sections of the domestic water supply without a tall ladder or lift system.

“You don’t want to have your guys 40 feet up in the air just to shut off valves,” says Lee Bleich, foreman for Sherwood Mechanical, Inc. “You want to be able to access those valves from a ladder in the hallway.”

Harrahs Resort

If service or maintenance is ever needed, the systems were designed with piping drops that run the length of the floor to allow the facilities team to shut off sections of the domestic water supply without a tall ladder or lift system.

Another benefit of using Aquatherm PP-R pipe is that it is free of heavy metals and toxic chemicals, which offers a safe option for drinking water and food processing. Trace amounts of chemicals aren’t pulled from the pipe walls into the water. PP-R piping makes use of heat-fused connections that bond both sides of a joint into a single, homogenous material without flames, fumes, chemicals, or mechanical connections. Pipes and fittings have the same physical properties after heat fusion is complete, which eliminates weaknesses caused by introducing different materials into the joint.

The piping project had a very tight timeline. Thankfully the heat-fused connections used with PP-R systems allow for a fast installation without compromising durability. Installation also moves quickly because of the light weight of PP-R; the piping weighs 75 to 80 percent less than comparable steel and considerably less than copper pipes. It can take a little bit of time to get used to working with, as Sherwood Mechanical installers learned when they first got to the Harrah’s Resort jobsite, but installation goes much smoother once the team becomes experienced with heat fusion and PP-R piping.

Harrah’s Resort focuses on initiatives such as recycling, energy-efficient lighting, reclaimed water, reduced plug loads, and solar power. PP-R brings natural sound and heat insulation properties to the table. Natural R-values of approximately 1.4 per inch of pipe wall means that, in some cases, the amount of insulation needed to meet current energy codes can be reduced. The natural R-value of PP-R can, depending on application, also improve un-insulated energy performance in areas where insulation is hard to install.

With the opening of the new tower, Harrah’s Resort Southern California now boasts 1,065 rooms along with a 53,221 square foot convention and entertainment venue that seats up to 2,200. The expansion also included new dining options and a trifecta of pools complete with SoCal’s only swim-up bar and a 400-ft Lazy River.

Photos courtesy of Aquatherm and Harrah’s Resort