By Domenic DeCaria
A facility manager at an older project needs to repair a 6-inch CPVC water supply, damaged by an outside vendor, in the ceiling on the 16th floor. He can’t isolate the water from the leak because he is unable to get the valve to close all the way. Because the pipe is CPVC, he’s trying to figure out how he’s going to get this building back online if he can’t solvent-weld the pipe and fitting together. So, what do you do to minimize downtime?
As large-diameter CPVC piping systems have become more popular in commercial buildings, both installing contractors and facility managers have had to change behaviors from how they previously installed copper or steel, switching to solvent-welding methods. Following that shift, plumbing and mechanical contractors around the world have been successfully solvent-welding Corzan piping systems in commercial buildings for over 15 years.
The learning curve reappears a few years later, however, as a building grows older and is modified to allow for changes in tenant demand, or requires predictive maintenance and component replacements. Many facility managers responsible for these cut-in repairs are not familiar with the nuances of CPVC piping, so their tendency has been to consider replacing needed components with copper. But, doing so would defeat the purpose of why this specific system was requested in the first place.
At the same time, the industry has recognized that facility managers need to reduce building downtime during repairs, and that they want to use methods and tools they are already familiar with. To accommodate those needs, Lubrizol, Wheeler-Rex Manufacturing and other companies have developed tools and techniques for mechanical-grooving for repair of Corzan pipe.
Developing mechanical grooving systems for CPVC pipe was a years-long process to ensure methods did not compromise the long-term performance of the pipe and joints. Lubrizol worked with Wheeler-Rex to develop a plastic cut-grooving tool for use with Corzan, which would then be joined together using specific models of flexible couplings. The cut-grooving method went through well over 20,000 hours of testing, where everything from pressure to bending moment was evaluated to existing ASTM and UL piping standards. The technical validation was intense, but was accomplished for a joining method that is contractor-friendly.
Live trial demonstrations proved that the systems were easily modified and back online in just a couple of hours. One such test occurred in January 2015, on an icy cold day at a 10-year-old hotel in New Hampshire. A joint leak had formed on a portion of a 4-inch hot water line–a Corzan pipe–located in the building’s mechanical room. An upstream valve had not been properly seated and was allowing a great deal of water to continue flowing.
Using a fine-tooth saw, the installer cut the pipe squarely without any splitting or cracking. Next, he set up the Wheeler-Rex 6950 Plastic Cut Groover using the 4-inch tool set and steadily removed layers of the aged material until the groove was at just the right depth. The tool’s ratchet handle was easy to maneuver in the tight space. Within minutes, the new pipe spool piece was installed with a grooved coupling on each end and the pipeline was brought back online.
Just as important to reducing building downtime is Victaulic’s Style 177N Installation-Ready flexible coupling. Rated for potable water systems, the Style 177N (along with the Style 72 Outlet Coupling and the Style 750 Reducing Coupling) provides an alternative for the contractor to easily modify a building’s Corzan piping system to meet the needs of the building design.
The addition of mechanical joining capabilities for these piping systems transforms a proven, trusted product into one that is even more convenient and in tune with contractors’ and facility managers’ needs. As a piping system designer, you can have confidence that contractors will have a reliable and cost-saving alternative that they want to use, which enables you to specify the best-in-class thermoplastic piping system for quietly delivering clean, safe water to building owners and tenants.