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Plastic Pipe Fire Sprinkler Systems:

Plastic pipe fire sprinkler systems are available in CPVC and PEX from several manufacturers and are designed to be installed in certain residential and/or light hazard applications. Plastic systems are specially listed for use in wet fire sprinkler systems. They should be installed by qualified contractors in accordance with the products UL listing and the NFPA 13, 13D and 13R Standards. Listed plastic fire sprinkler systems offer an affordable measure of protection of life and property from fire.

The purpose of the residential sprinkler systems is to provide a system that aids in detection and control of residential fires and thus provides improved protection against injury, loss of life, and property damage.

NFPA 13D: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes allows for stand-alone or multipurpose systems. Garages, bathrooms, attics, crawl spaces and small closets are not required to have sprinklers. Systems are sized for two sprinklers activating. Pipe is installed per NFPA 13D and applicable plumbing code requirements (multipurpose systems), to the product manufacturers UL Approved installation instructions. Some system components are not required to be listed. As of 1999, NFPA 13D allows both multipurpose systems and stand alone systems.

NFPA 13R: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies allows only stand-alone systems. Garages must be sprinklered, however, like 13D, bathrooms, attics, and small closets are not required to be sprinklered. Sizing is done to allow for four sprinklers activating. 13R also requires all components, including hangers, to be listed. NFPA 13R applications include apartments, condos, and similar residential occupancies up to four stories in height. A fire department connection is required; therefore, all system materials must be rated at 175 psi.

NFPA 13 is used for residential occupancies greater than four stories in height. This standard is more demanding than 13R or 13D. CPVC systems can be used in light hazard occupancies per NFPA 13 applications. Check with the manufacturer.

Systems include:

Stand-alone Systems -
A sprinkler system can be installed as a stand-alone system separate from the cold-water distribution system with a dedicated water source.

Multipurpose Combination Systems - Multipurpose or combination systems supply the fire sprinklers and cold water for the plumbing fixtures with common pipes.  Usually, the cold water piping is run overhead, supplying the sprinkler heads and drops down to supply the fixtures in the home. The three common types of sprinkler layouts for residential applications are gridded, looped or tree.  

These sprinkler systems are pressure-tested at normal system operating pressures. NFPA 13D and 13R are designed for life safety, while NFPA 13 is a design for property protection. The main goal for life safety is to get the people out and save lives, while the main goal for property protection is to save the building.

There may be protection requirements for exposed piping. Typical protection can be 3/8" gypsum wallboard, certain suspended ceilings, or ½” plywood. Check with the manufacturer.