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CPVC Sprinkler Pipe: 31 Flavors of Risk

on March 14, 2013

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.

The facts about these incompatibilities are not in dispute. A major manufacturer of CPVC lists at least 31 different “Incompatible Products” on its own website. The list includes:

  • Acetone
  • Antifreeze
  • Dishwashing Liquids
  • Flexible Wiring & Cable
  • Fragrances / Perfumes
  • Fungicides
  • Mold Inhibitors
  • Grease
  • Cooking Oils
  • Molten Solder
  • Solder Flux
  • Oil or Solvent-based Paint
  • Polyurethane (Spray-on) Foams
  • Residual Oils (Including Cutting Oils) with Steel Pipe
  • Residual Oils with HVAC Applications
  • Rubber & Flexible Materials Containing Plasticizers
  • Sleeving Material
  • Spray-on Coatings
  • Steel Piping with Antimicrobial Coating
  • Pipe Tap
  • Termiticides
  • Insecticides
  • Solvent Cements
  • Caulks
  • Fire Stopping Systems
  • Leak Detector
  • Mold Cleaners
  • WD40
  • Pipe Clamps
  • Pipe Tape
  • Thread Sealants

Furthermore, objective testing has shown just how “incompatible” these materials can be. In an 18-month investigation, Plastic Failure Labs carried out hundreds of forensic failure investigations of CPVC sprinkler pipes and fittings. According to their report, they found that “the overwhelming cause of failure is contamination of the CPVC pipes and fittings with incompatible chemicals.” In fact, 80 percent of CPVC fire sprinkler pipe failures were due to contamination.

Consider this example:

A CPVC sprinkler pipe system was installed in a condominium, and as standard, a worker sealed wall openings using fire caulk. This image illustrates what happened when a drop of excess fire caulk, containing phthalates and phosphate esters, fell onto the system and contaminated the exterior surface of the pipe.

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Fortunately, there is a solution: 100% steel. I believe good fire protection should be simple, and simply put, the installation of a 100% steel system provides the dependability that only comes from total compatibility.

To read more about Wheatland Tube’s position on fire protection and how we meet required specifications, visit


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