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Fire Sprinkler Parts Purchase – Owner Builder

idahobuild | Posted in General Questions on

Hello All,
I am building a home in Idaho as an owner-builder and I am looking for recommendations on how to purchase fire sprinkler parts.  In Idaho owner-builders are allowed to install professionally designed fire suppression systems.  So, I had a design firm draw up the plans and generate an Uponor parts list.  Now I’m running into a headwind trying to purchase parts; as I’m not a certified fire suppression installer.  Specifically, the issue is with sprinkler heads and fittings–I can get the pipe and pipe fittings (at Home Depot/Lowes).

Any ideas for how to get the fire suppression-specific materials that I need? 


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  1. huey_ce | | #1

    I was a sprinkler design tech is a past life. Besides laying out residential systems I also helped install a CPVC system in a habitat for humanity house so I have limited install experience as well. I am assuming your system will be CPVC and not steel.

    Before I answer your question I want to ask you one. What kind of pipe are you buying at the big box stores?

    When I was in fire protection we would use an orange CPVC pipe, Spears FlameGuard. Also all the fitters had to get Spears certified on how to glue the joints. If you don't glue them right (glue on fitting and pipe, insert, then quarter turn is the basics) then the connections have a habit of blowing apart under pressure and causing a lot of water damage.

    I doubt you can get CPVC pipe that is listed for use in a sprinkler system at a big box store, I know you cant around here and I would assume demand for it would be too low for a big box to stock this stuff. You should not be using domestic water piping for a fire protection system that is not listed for this use. A system designed to NFPA needs to be installed with listed materials. This may nudge you towards subbing this work out if the procurement is just getting more complicated.

    To answer your question you could call manufacturers and ask for local distributors. What heads are you using? Victaulic? Tyco? Reliable? They might be able to point you in the right direction. If that doesn't work try calling local contractors and see if one is willing to resell materials to you. We would keep some common things in stock and even resell them to competitors when lead times got crazy and someone was desperate on a service call. You may have to pay a premium once you do find someone willing to sell to you since you will be buying limited quantities.

    1. idahobuild | | #2

      Thanks for the feedback and ideas. For the pipe, the design calls for "1-1/2” Uponor AquaPEX (100 ft) – White PEX" which is rated, and approved, for residential fire suppression systems in Idaho. The sprinkler heads are Reliable.
      I have one local "inside sales" rep. checking with his company to confirm he can sell product to me. I guess they haven't dealt with very many Owner-builders.
      I also like the idea of checking with local contractors - but though they might sell to each other, I'm thinking they'll find it difficult to sell to random Joe off the street.

      1. huey_ce | | #3

        Learn something every day. A quick google turned up this data sheet for Uponor AquaPEX:*1xq7eyl*_ga*NjI1MDgyOTg5LjE2NTk3MjMyOTU.*_ga_D8LRHP9HJ8*MTY1OTcyMzI5NC4xLjAuMTY1OTcyMzI5NC42MA..#xd_co_f=OWI3MDQ4NmEtNjE5Ni00ZTdkLTgxY2YtMmRkMzAzNDI3MDYx~

        UL 1821 is the listing for wet pipe sprinkler systems for fire protection service. Under Standards UL 1821 has note 3, which states "for 3/4", 1" and 1-1/4" pipe only". Unless there is another data sheet it appears to me that 1-1/2" pipe is not listed use in your system.

        I would see if the designer can help you out here, I only put in 5 minutes on google. That being said there are plenty of companies in this industry that don't know all the little details. Its kind of like trying to get a good Manual J calc. I almost got fired just for trying to do seismic restraints to code. Had an uphill fight against a lot of "this is how we have done it for 20 years!".

  2. Patrick_OSullivan | | #4 sells Uponor sprinkler components. I see no sales restrictions on the product pages. I buy most of my plumbing supplies from them and overall they do a good job.

    1. idahobuild | | #6

      I did try, but they didn't appear to have the Reliable sprinkler heads specified in my plans. Since the plans are required for me to install the system myself (as Owner-builder) I figure I have to stick to the hardware called out in the plans.

  3. Deerfield | | #5

    Hello! I'm in Canada, and also an owner/builder. I had a wholesale account at a local HVAC/Plumbing business but some items had to go thru another tradespersons account with a TSSA# in order for me to buy them. Ask your suppliers maybe they do the same. I'm doing a DRY fire system with sched. 80 CPVC 1 1/4" piping under 5/8" drywall, 3 systems (1 per floor ), powered by my commercial well pump ( 30 gal/min 2" piping ). I'm not at the point where I need the sprinkler heads yet. Thanks.

    1. idahobuild | | #7

      Yeah, that's the problem--I'm going through "inside sales" at a local plumbing supply store and they are confused that I am requesting this hardware and am not Licensed. One of them is trying to ask his boss to confirm if he can sell to me as an OB--as I clarified to him that in Idaho the state fire marshal approves of OB-installed fire systems. I am the tradesperson on the build, so I'd have to cold call someone and say "Hey, I'm John Doe, will you buy some parts for me at Joe's Plumbing". I'm not sure that would go over well. It kind of feels shading -- like a kid asking folks outside a liquor store to by booze for them. :)

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