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The Importance of MIC Shield for Protecting Fire Sprinkler Pipe

Fire protection systems are the most critical systems of any building. From a protection standpoint, fire sprinkler pipe helps ensure that when the need arises, water will flow and spray from the system properly.

However, if the pipe is compromised in any way it’s not always possible for this to happen. And while there are several regulations that fire protection systems must meet or exceed to stay up to code, it doesn’t mean that the pipe isn’t susceptible to elements that can compromise its performance and increase corrosion. One element that has the ability to significantly cause corrosion of fire sprinkler pipe, and thus decreasing its effectiveness, is MIC.

Throughout this blog post, we’re going to review what MIC is, how it affects fire sprinkler pipe and how you can help prevent it from forming.

Let’s get started!

What is MIC?

MIC is the acronym used for microbiologically influenced corrosion, a problem for the long-term health of fire sprinkler and standard pipes. MIC is caused when unseen biological organisms called microbes gather to accelerate corrosion on the surface of alloys including copper, ductile iron, steel, and stainless steel.

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CPVC Sprinkler Pipe: 31 Flavors of Risk

I’m sure there are some applications where installing CPVC sprinkler pipe makes sense.

Like, for instance, when the installer contractors won’t be eating lunch that day.

And when you’re certain no one will ever be painting, soldering or wiring anywhere near it. Or caulking. Or spraying for pests. Or using any number of oils, greases, solvents or foams in the CPVC’s vicinity — for years after you finish the job.

I’m sure applications like that exist…. I just can’t think of any.

In all seriousness (because this is a very serious topic), there’s a good chance that you may not be fully aware of just how many materials are incompatible with CPVC sprinkler pipe. Common products that contractors could possibly encounter— like caulk residue or oil on French Fries — could potentially come in contact with the CPVC and may cause the system to drip, crack or fail completely. Then you find yourself potentially at risk for potential property damage or even loss of life — and if, something like that happens, you and your company may be held liable.

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Do you Design or Install Fire Protection Systems? You May Face New Risks

Steel pipe in sprinkler systems has been used for over 100 years without the kinds of cautions and warnings that CPVC pipe carries. Today, some CPVC have abdicated compatibility testing, leaving it to third party testing agencies.

Any contractor or engineer who designs or installs fire protection systems must understand the implications of the most recent changes to manufacturer certification criteria.

Effective January 1, 2013, some CPVC manufacturers are no longer listing steel pipe in their compatibility certification programs. Previously, CPVC manufacturers were responsible for testing and certifying the compatibility of their product for use in fire protection systems.

Why risk fire safety…or the reputation of your business…or your customer’s peace of mind…when you can be 100 percent compliant with 100 percent steel?

Let’s face it: the perfect job for a contractor is to get on, get out and be comfortable knowing that the job is protected by steel with a proven track record of compatibility with all of the typical ancillary products used in a system. This allows the contractor a competitive edge in not being tied to specific products that have to be specially tested as compatible with plastic pipe as you do with CPVC.

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