Article and photos by Gregory Havel
Most of us associate groove-ended pipe and fittings with automatic fire sprinkler and standpipe systems. Although the larger sizes of pipe in these systems installed since 1960 almost always use what we call “Victaulic” fittings, we must remember that “Victaulic” is a registered trade mark of the Victaulic Company; that other manufacturers make similar products; and that this type of fitting has uses other than in fire protection. Assuming that groove-end pipe is for fire protection systems can get firefighters in trouble.
The complete installation of a piping system includes labels indicating what is inside the pipes and sometimes color coding (red is reserved for fire protection). It also includes tags at valves indicating their purpose or function. These requirements are included in National Fire Protection Association 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 14, Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.144, 145; and OSHA 29 CFR 1910.6, which incorporates by reference the American National Standards Institute’s A13.1, Scheme for the Identification of Piping Systems.
Remember to look for labels and tags on the pipe or at the valves and to consult with the building’s owner or manager before making any changes to any building system.
Groove-end couplings and fittings are available in sizes from 1.25-inch (32 mm) to 72-inch (1.829 m); for pipe of steel, ductile iron, stainless steel, copper, and aluminum; in both rigid and flexible configurations; for water, petroleum products, chemicals, and compressed air; and for temperatures from -40o F (-40oC) to 450oF (238oC).
The first groove-end fitting was developed in 1925; the first one approved for fire protection systems was developed in 1952 by the Victaulic Company. Rolled grooving was introduced in 1957 and in many applications has replaced cut grooving; this allows the use of thinner-walled pipe than the standard Schedule 40 and 80 steel pipes.
Photo 1 shows 10-inch (54 mm) groove-end pipe, fittings, and couplings that are part of a hydronic (circulated hot water) heating system. The gasket is made of a synthetic rubber that is approved for use at temperatures to 250o F. After the installation is completed, inspected, and tested, it will be covered with insulation and labeled with its purpose and direction of flow.
Photo 2 shows a pile of groove-end fittings and couplings that will become part of a fire sprinkler and standpipe system. The Underwriters Laboratories “UL” symbol is visible on some of these fittings and indicates that they are listed for use in fire protection systems. Those used in systems for other purposes may or may not have the UL listing.
Photo 3 shows groove-end pipe and fittings that are part of the compressed air system in a factory. The air will flow from the right and up toward the top. Compressed air can carry moisture droplets with it, which is not good for most equipment that uses it. Since moisture tends to condense and drop out of the compressed air when it changes its direction of flow, the galvanized reducer at the bottom of the Tee will be connected to a moisture trap and automatic drain.
For more information on this pipe and fitting system from manufacturers and trade associations, search the Internet for “groove end pipe” and “groove end pipe fittings.”
Reference to brand names above is for clarity only and is not an endorsement of either a product or a manufacturer.
Subjects: Building construction for firefigher operations, construction hazards, standpipe systems, groove-ended pipe fittings