PEX Multipurpose Plumbing and Fire Sprinkler Systems Offer Opportunity

Most contractors are cognizant of the benefits of installing PEX pipe in residential plumbing systems, but they might not be fully aware of the advantages of incorporating it into multipurpose plumbing and fire sprinkler systems

PEX Multipurpose Plumbing and Fire Sprinkler Systems Offer Opportunity

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In 2008, the International Code Council (ICC) put the requirement for sprinkler systems in all one- and two-family homes into the model codes. Since then, jurisdiction mandates across the United States have expanded by the hundreds. Now more builders than ever need fire sprinklers in order to build a house to code.  

This is why it’s a smart business decision to look into ways you, the plumbing contractor, can leverage this opportunity to grow your business. There are many benefits to learning about residential fire sprinkler systems, and there are even more benefits to installing multipurpose plumbing and fire sprinkler systems with PEX.

Why PEX is a good fit

PEX has proven itself as a highly effective alternative to CPVC and copper pipe due to its extreme flexibility, durability, and installation ease. PEX won’t pit, scale or corrode like copper, and it eliminates the need for open flame and chemicals on the job site, which supports worker safety. 

The flexibility and shape memory of PEX is one of its most advantageous features. This allows the pipe to expand up to three times the outside diameter and then contract back down without failure. This has proven highly beneficial in freezing conditions. For example, the deep freeze in Texas this past February proved the durability of PEX when homes and businesses plumbed with the product did not experience a leak.

The flexibility also means faster, easier, and more efficient installs. This is because you can simply bend the pipe with each change in direction. This feature eliminates up to half the fittings required in a rigid copper or CPVC system, saving you time and materials costs as well.

How multipurpose systems work

Multipurpose systems combine a home’s cold-water plumbing with the fire sprinkler system. This design makes it easy for plumbing contractors to add this service to their offerings. Essentially, the fire sprinkler system becomes just an extension of the plumbing system, with the contractor adding sprinklers just like any other fixture.

Providing both the plumbing and the fire sprinkler systems for new-home construction offers a competitive advantage over plumbers who do not offer fire sprinklers (as well as fire protection contractors who cannot install plumbing systems).

By being able to install both systems, you are now the go-to contractor for builders that need to meet a fire sprinkler mandate. Now the builder needs to hire only one contractor for both systems, eliminating hassles in coordinating trades and managing production timelines.

Getting trained to install multipurpose systems

It’s important to know that you can’t just start installing multipurpose plumbing and fire sprinkler systems. You must first receive training from a PEX manufacturer that offers these types of systems. 

The training, which can be available on-demand online, walks licensed plumbing contractors or fire protection installers through a multi-course program that includes information about estimations, designs, layouts, water supplies, system types, sprinkler spacing, installation best practices, testing, troubleshooting, and maintenance.

At the end of the training program, attendees can receive a qualification certificate that satisfies any manufacturer training required by state or local authorities.

Want to learn more?

If this article has piqued your interest in the benefits of PEX in general, and you want to learn more, check out plasticpipe.org or ppfahome.org. These are two of the industry’s most valuable websites for general information about PEX piping systems.

If you’re ready to get started in a training program for PEX multipurpose plumbing and fire sprinkler systems, check out Uponor Academy Online. This portal provides courses on not only multipurpose systems, but also residential plumbing, commercial plumbing, residential radiant heating, commercial radiant heating and cooling, and hydronic distribution systems as well.

About the Author

Kim Bliss is the technical and marketing content manager at Uponor. She can be reached at kim.bliss@uponor.com.



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