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Joining Methods For Fire Protection Systems: CPVC vs. Steel

By: Mark Knurek on March 12th, 2019

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Joining Methods For Fire Protection Systems: CPVC vs. Steel

Installation  |  BlazeMaster vs. Steel

Installation methods for fire protection systems vary depending on the materials involved.

Each material’s specific joining method has a direct impact on three key factors:

  • Cost: Installation and labor accounts for more than half of the system’s total upfront cost.
  • Time: In new builds, construction deadlines may be tight. In retrofits, the building may remain occupied during construction, which means the system must be completed as quickly as possible.
  • Reliability: Installation mistakes can lead to premature failures and unnecessary repairs, resulting in an unreliable system in the event of a fire.

For this reason, contractors and installers can benefit from being proactive in their piping material recommendations to building owners.


Heat Welding vs. Solvent Cement Welding

Steel pipes in fire protection systems are welded together using heat. This requires a skilled welder and special tools to fuse the metal piping seams. Furthermore, heat weakens the original material quality. Even though the two pipes are fused together, the bond is not as strong or as reliable as a bond made with solvent cement.

Solvent cement is not glue. Instead, the substance is a mixture of solvents and CPVC resins that fuse the pipe and fitting together at a molecular level, creating one continuous piece of material. When properly installed, the joint becomes the strongest part of the piping system.


Installation Advantages of CPVC

CPVC pipes and fittings are easy to work with and allow for flexibility during the installation process. When compared to steel, CPVC has several more advantages.


Simpler and Safer Joining Method

CPVC installation is much more straightforward than steel. It does not require any heavy tooling or machinery. No power source or flame is needed for joining. All you need is the pipe, fitting, solvent cement, and applicator.

For steel installations, specialized welding techniques and highly skilled laborers are required to join pipes. Not only can this prolong installation time, but it also drives up costs. In addition, if the seam is poorly welded, beads can form around the inside of the pipe and increase the likelihood of corrosion and scaling.

And, because heat welding steel involves a flame and a power source, there is an increased risk of fire and explosion hazards, which directly impacts the safety of the installer.


Greater Flexibility

Because solvent cement welding requires minimal tools, CPVC can be easily installed in tight, confined spaces.

On the other hand, heat welding steel piping in enclosed areas is not only dangerous, but extremely difficult. Welding machines limit the welders’ movements and can prevent installers from making the skilled welds needed to avoid pipe malfunctions. Additionally, steel pipes are much heavier than CPVC, making them harder to maneuver around a jobsite.


Better Suited For Retrofits

CPVC allows for quicker and easier retrofit installations compared to steel. Due to CPVC’s light weight and simpler installation techniques, additions and modifications to existing buildings are quick and quiet, avoiding heavy machinery that can cause unnecessary building occupant disruptions or evacuations. For example, CPVC piping allows installers to make notable adjustments directly on-site by using simple hand tools to cut the piping to exact measurements.

Unlike steel, no welding or noisy threading machines are needed. The building can remain occupied and installations can be completed one room or building section at a time. In addition, hallways can be cleared faster by crew due to the speed of installation with CPVC.


Free BlazeMaster® CPVC Installation Resource

Looking for more information to ensure proper installation of your BlazeMaster fire protection system?

Download our free resource, The Complete Guide to Solvent Cement, today.

Additionally, when you choose to work with BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems, you’ll have access to our team of product experts who can provide technical support, on-site training and demonstrations, failure analysis, and more for the lifespan of your system.

Schedule a free consultation today.


 Steel vs. CPVC Commercial Fire Protection Systems