A CASE STUDY
PROBLEM: MY ORANGE PLASTIC CPVC FIRE SPRINKLER PIPES FROZE AND BROKE AND NO PLUMBERS ARE AVAILABLE TO DO THE REPAIR.
Following the great Texas freeze disaster of 2021, most buildings suffered freeze damage to the water piping systems leading to a shortage of qualified plumbers to do the repairs. The plumber shortage caused people to seek to repair their piping systems themselves.
QUESTION: IS BEIGE COLORED CPVC PIPE THE SAME AS ORANGE CPVC PIPE?
Following the Texas disaster, Plastic Expert Group received many inquiries regarding how to safely perform CPVC pipe repairs including:
- “I am trying to repair my broken orange CPVC fire sprinkler pipes but my local hardware store only sells beige CPVC pipe.
- Does the color of the pipe matter?
- Is it safe for me to buy CPVC pipe at the hardware store and replace the broken orange CPVC fire sprinkler pipes myself using beige-colored pipe?”
Answer: Orange CPVC fire sprinkler piping has a higher pressure rating than beige-colored CPVC pipe. The two types of CPVC pipe are not interchangeable. Fire sprinkler piping is a critical life-safety system and it must be installed by only qualified/trained professionals who meticulously follow a specific set of rules. Failure to follow these installation rules can cause the fire sprinkler piping system to malfunction in the event of a fire and lead to death.
EXAMPLE OF FIRE SPRINKLER PIPE FAILURE CAUSED BY DEFECTIVE INSTALLATION.
One of the most critical installation steps to follow when installing CPVC piping is to use the correct amount of solvent cement to connect the pipe to the fittings. Failure to use enough cement leads to weak joints where the pipe can separate from the joint. If too much cement is used, cement running down the outside of pipes and puddles of excess cement trapped inside the piping system cause the pipe to become brittle and fail.