Ensuring chemical compatibility is a top concern for everyone that deals with CPVC sprinkler systems – installers, contractors, designers and building owners. Just as water causes steel pipe to rust, some materials may impact the longevity of CPVC. To ensure a fire protection system works as planned over its full lifespan, BlazeMaster® CPVC must be used in conjunction with compatible ancillary products such as thread sealants, gaskets, lubricants and firestop materials.
1. Find compatible products.
There’s no need to find your high school chemistry textbook. Just visit the FBC™ System Compatible program website, which provides a comprehensive list of materials approved for use with BlazeMaster CPVC along with a list of materials known to be incompatible. It is important to note that the FBC System Compatible Program applies only to Lubrizol brands of CPVC (which include BlazeMaster) and not competitive brands.
2. Ensure CPVC pipe is installed properly.
Incompatible chemicals + poor installation practices = failure.In fact, there are only a few substances that will always cause a failure. Most incompatible products are less aggressive, which means they require other stressors on the pipe in order to cause a failure. This leaves the CPVC more vulnerable to mechanical stress caused by a subpar installation, such as a hanger that is installed incorrectly or overtightened. Plasticizers, for instance, are found in materials such as incompatible caulks. These chemicals are very aggressive and are likely to cause the pipe to fail eventually. Surfactants such as some soaps and detergents are less aggressive – they only cause failures where the CPVC is stressed to a certain level.
3. Use high quality CPVC for optimum chemical resistance.
Not all CPVC is created equal, and it starts at the molecular level. CPVC is made from long chain-like molecules that are tangled together. The better the molecules are tangled, the stronger the pipe will be. Failure occurs when chains break or become disentangled.
The structure of the molecule and the quality of manufacturing play significant roles in resistance to incompatible chemicals. If stresses on the pipe are minimal thanks to good installation practices and CPVC that is manufactured to high standards, the pipe may perform as planned even though it accidentally comes in contact with a chemical identified as “incompatible.” It’s another reason to choose BlazeMaster CPVC.
4. Avoid dishwashing liquids when cleaning CPVC.
While most soaps are compatible, dishwashing liquids can contain synthetic detergents that can eventually cause stress cracking of fittings. Lubrizol recommends the use of a household bleach solution or a mild ionic detergent, along with clean water.
5. In kitchen areas, protect CPVC from grease and cooking oils.
Natural oil, such as vegetable oil or animal fat, as well as synthetic ester oils, are incompatible with CPVC. Airborne oils and fats that settle on CPVC can crack fittings.
6. If repairing a leak, be cautious in using mold inhibitors.
CPVC can be damaged by fungicides sprayed on surrounding drywall and wood framing to prevent growth of mold and mildew after water damage. The FBC™ System Compatible program includes several approved mold inhibitors that can be used around BlazeMaster CPVC, but it’s still be a good idea to protect exposed piping with compatible plastic or pipe insulation material to prevent direct contact with the fungicide.
7. Keep data wire and cable away from CPVC.
The jacketing on many types of standard wire that carries electricity does not pose compatibility issues. However, the jacketing on signal-carrying wiring systems often contains plasticizers that can pose problems if they leach into CPVC. The FBC™ System Compatible program does not include a list of approved flexible wiring and cabling products. However, you can find more background about this topic on the program’s Other Compatibility Topics page.
8. Use only approved leak detectors.
Scented products such as cologne, perfume, or essential oils (peppermint oil, orange oil, spearmint oil, etc.) should not be put into a CPVC piping system for the purpose of being able to detect leaks by odor. Most fragrance chemicals and essential oils are strong solvents and/or environmental stress cracking agents for CPVC. In addition, most modern dishwashing liquids contain synthetic detergents that may damage fittings.
9. Ensureapproved caulks are used in building repairs near CPVC.
Contractors who make routine repairs around a facility may not be aware of chemical compatibility issues around these materials. General purpose caulks may contain plasticizers that can cause CPVC to soften or crack. There is an in-depth list of incompatible caulks on the FBC™ System Compatible site. As a general rule, 100% silicone caulks or polyurethane “foam-in-a-can” are suitable for sealing gaps around CPVC pipes.
Have questions about chemical compatibility? Don’t hesitate to contact us for expert advice.