Experienced Kansas City Construction Law Firm

Product incompatibility leads to costly fire sprinkler system failures

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Construction Litigation

Fire sprinkler systems involve multiple products and components that work cohesively to mitigate the impact of fires. When there are incompatible products within the sprinkler system, catastrophic leaks and flooding may occur.

One major type of incompatibility involves the piping. Fire sprinkler systems often use CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), a product that has been around for decades. CPVC is a plastic-based material similar to PVC. However, it’s more flexible and capable of withstanding high temperatures. These features make it ideal for fire sprinkler systems in condominium buildings, apartment buildings, commercial facilities and other types of properties.

What types of products are incompatible with CPVC?

CPVC may be chemically incompatible with many types of products, including certain types of:

  • Sealants
  • Firestops
  • Leak detectors
  • Fireproofing sprays
  • Fungicides
  • Glues
  • Antifreeze
  • Primers
  • Caulks
  • Cleaners

Incompatible products can jeopardize the integrity of the CPVC, causing microcracks that can eventually spread. Because fire sprinkler systems are pressurized at all times, cracks often result in catastrophic flooding, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

What property owners and managers should know

It’s important to know that pipe failures resulting from product incompatibility may not arise until years after the system’s installation. Property owners and managers often have no knowledge of the incompatibility until a catastrophic failure occurs. A thorough inspection by a qualified professional can identify incompatibilities before damage occurs. An early inspection can also preserve legal claims.