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Comparing Types of Fire Sprinkler System Piping

Comparing Types of Fire Sprinkler System Piping

Blazemaster CPVC  |  fire safety  | on 

What are the different types of fire sprinkler system piping material and what is the difference?

Which Fire Sprinkler Material to use: Steel or CPVC?

Fire sprinklers are traditionally available as wet pipe systems. The materials of choice for fire sprinkler systems have traditionally been metal, but with the introduction and rise in popularity of CPVC, BlazeMaster® has become an even more viable option for a wet pipe system.

The introduction of BlazeMaster® CPVC fire protection systems in 1984 introduced a better alternative to steel for pipes and fittings. The high melting point made it an easy choice, but there were other advantages that made this new material viable such as its availability and low cost compared with standard grades of carbon-steel used before.


Fire Sprinkler


A Fire Sprinkler System for Indian Industry Standards

Indian standards explicitly recognize CPVC Pipes and fittings for fixed fire sprinkler systems through BIS 16088:2012 and BIS 15105:2021. This has given the users the power to choose other non-steel material for their fire sprinkler system projects.

BlazeMaster® CPVC is a lightweight thermoplastic made from a base PVC polymer and fortified with additional chlorine molecules. It has become the most specified non-metallic fire sprinkler system in the world, primarily because of its significant advantages over steel.

The extra chlorine and specialized additive allow the CPVC material to withstand intense heat and pressure - a primary requirement of a sprinkler system which BlazeMaster® CPVC pipe and fittings exceed. A high limiting oxygen index of 60 of BlazeMaster® CPVC does not support burning and melting in the atmosphere.

These factors position BlazeMaster® CPVC, not just at par with steel but a better choice for fire sprinkler systems.


BM CPVC vs Steel Systems

Sprinkler System Design and Installation Advantages

Flexible Installation

Steel pipes are rigid, creating installation issues in tight spaces and retrofits. They also need more working space due to the requirement of position welding as well as bigger supports. BlazeMaster® CPVC on the other hand provides more flexibility to install sprinkler heads in those difficult spaces, to an extent that the installer can run it flushed onto concrete ceilings.

This translates into a compact installation as compared to a steel piping system - a huge advantage for apartments in India, where aesthetics is important.

Easier Fabrication

Steel pipe requires hot welding; a difficult process that involves a special hot work permit at the job site due to the possibility of fire hazard. 

Noisy threading machines are needed to fabricate and connect the system. BlazeMaster® CPVC pipe and fittings are joined together with solvent cement and are cut to length without the need for special tools, with less risk of fire and electrical hazards on site. 

BlazeMaster® CPVC systems are fabricated on the spot, leading to faster installation as compared to steel. Avoiding welds also leads to clean and aesthetic workmanship without the need for highly skilled workmen.

Unbeatable Hydraulics

CPVC pipe has better hydraulics than steel pipe, which typically means that smaller diameter CPVC pipe can be used, and hydraulics calculation again helps to save cost. 

This is proven by the Hazen-Williams Coefficient, an empirical relationship used in the design of fire sprinkler systems that relates the flow of water in a pipe with the physical properties of the pipe and the pressure drop caused by friction. It also allows CPVC piping runs to fit into smaller spatial gaps than steel piping, an added design advantage over steel.


Superior Performance and Ease of Maintenance

Corrosion isn’t a Concern

In steel pipe systems, the combination of water, chemicals, oxygen and removal of zinc coating at the weld points cause corrosion over time. This leads to pinhole leaks in a steel pipe of fire sprinkler systems potentially in less than two years. 

Scale build-up, the result of minerals associated with hard water (prevalent in most parts of North, Central, and West India), can attach to steel pipe walls often near welds and corners. This can limit the flow of water or worse may choke the pipes leading to system failure. 

BlazeMaster® CPVC will never corrode, allowing safety, peace of mind, and fewer service interruptions.

Easier Maintenance

Corrosion, scale buildup, and leakages due to weld pinholes are a primary maintenance concern for a steel fire protection system. Removing the scale can be a challenge, leading to additional costs and shutdowns. 

BlazeMaster® CPVC resists scaling and Microbial induced corrosion (MIC), saving maintenance frequency and costs.


Cost Advantages

A discerning purchaser looks beyond upfront cost to understand how BlazeMaster® CPVC reduces the overall cost of the sprinkler system.

Labor Cost

Steel pipe is heavy and usually requires special equipment and more manpower to handle. Additionally, welding is a compulsory process for steel installations.

BlazeMaster® CPVC pipe and fittings weigh significantly less than steel, and only one or two installers can typically complete an entire area alone, saving labor cost immediately.

Material Cost

Piping can amount to almost 60% of the total material cost of a fire sprinkler system. The cost of a BlazeMaster® CPVC system is more rational than steel, especially considering the design advantage of better flow, due to lower friction.

This allows designers to downsize BlazeMaster® CPVC pipes, and choose a smaller diameter, enabling significant cost savings.

Cost of Ownership

BlazeMaster® CPVC pipes and fittings are known to resist corrosion and typically outlast steel pipes significantly. While a fire sprinkler system with steel pipe and fittings will show significant deterioration within 10 to 15 years, the integrity of a BlazeMaster CPVC pipe and fitting remains unchanged for the life of the system.

Thus, the total installed cost of a project using BlazeMaster® CPVC is significantly lower as compared to steel.

The above reasons put BlazeMaster® as a strong alternative to steel when designing fire sprinkler systems. Real estate projects to date that had only two options in steel and GI, can also add BlazeMaster to the consideration set.

Simply put, BlazeMaster® CPVC Fire Protection Systems provide peace of mind and are a better alternative to metallic options available today.