New Course: Intro to Fire Sprinklers, Valves, and Hydraulic Calculations

We have a great new course available for continuing education, taught by a new instructor, Karl Wiegand, who really knows his stuff. The course is titled Introduction to Fire Sprinklers, Valves, and Hydraulic Calculations.

This is an introduction to the basics regarding fire sprinklers, valves and hydraulic calculations. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the parts of a sprinkler assembly and the significance of sprinkler orientation. They will also learn the basics of sprinkler system valves and the types of systems they service. Finally, hydraulic calculations are discussed as they relate to water supply, water flow and friction loss.

Read on for a sneak peak from the first lesson in the course all about Sprinkler Basics:


Most sprinklers have six main components: the deflector, frame arm, activating link, orifice cap, threads and the orifice.

  1. Orifice. “K-factor” is the relationship between the pressure and the flow in the sprinkler. See the equation below:
    • K = Q/sqrt(P)
    • Q = flow (gpm)
    • P = Pressure (psi)

      There are a large range of K factors, the larger the orifice, the more flow you can get without increasing the pressure. K-factors typically range from 1.4 to 28.0, with the most common K-factor at 5.6.

  2. Threads. Usually you are looking at the size of the connection that the sprinkler will screw into. Smaller orifice sprinklers have smaller threads.
    • ½ in thread: K 1.4 – K 11.2
    • ¾ in thread: K 8.0 – K 16.8
    • 1 in thread: K 19.6 – K 28.0

This is important, especially when replacing systems, The thread dictates the size of the opening.

3. Orifice Cap. The orifice cap is used on automatic sprinklers to keep water from flowing, it keeps the water in the system. Open sprinklers do not have orifice caps, the norm is a closed system.

4. Activating Link. This a heat sensitive device that holds the orifice cap in place on automatic sprinklers and keeps them from going off at the wrong time. Open sprinklers do not have an activating link. Sprinklers are designed to react at different speeds, to operate at different temperature ranges (depending on what they are protecting). There are two different types of links - solder and glass bulb.

Activation speed is dictated by the thickness of the link. Typical bulb links are either in 3mm or 5mm bulb sizes. The 3mm is a quick response link, whereas the 5mm bulb is the standard response because it activates slower. All can be fit on a RTI (Response Time Index), which is the relationship between how fast the sprinkler activates with different heat velocities at different temperatures.

Temperature Ranges. Normal temp sprinklers are designed to be in areas up to 100° F. Other commonly used temperatures are intermediate and high with are allowed in 150° F and 225° F respectively. Temperature ranges go up to 625° F. Links are color coded to the temperature range they fall in. The set temperature can be regulated by increasing or decreasing the size of the air bubble in the ampule itself.

Solder Links. Like most typical solders, eutectic solders are used in sprinkler systems. Solder links have a few pros and cons. One advantage to a solder link is that it is more robust than a glass bulb. Any jostling, or rough handling on the bulb can cause damage. Soldered links can also tell you more about the physical cause of an activation that may not have been caused by heat. Soldered links are, however, more difficult to control in terms of the melting temperature.

Glass Bulbs. Glass bulbs are filled with a sugar solution that expands when it is heated. An advantage to glass bulbs are that they are easy to design to activate at a specific temperature. And as discussed above, a disadvantage is that glass bulbs are easier to damage than solder links.

5. Frame Arm. The frame arm holds the deflector, the orifice cap, and the activating link in place. It needs to be able to keep the deflector in position when water is flowing through the sprinkler. The frame arm actually does have an effect on the spray pattern because the water hits the frame arm before the deflector.

6. Deflectors. These are arguably the most important component of the sprinkler. Deflectors are used to create spray patterns. Deflectors come in different shapes, each shape creates a different pattern with a different purpose or application. Most shapes are proprietary from one manufacturer to another.

 


DO YOU NEED VIRGINIA CONTINUING EDUCATION?

High School Senior’s Essay about Plumbing Makes it into New York Times

Each spring, the New York Times selects five moving college admissions essays to publish. The topics range from work to money to social class and are written by teens with diverse backgrounds.

This year, one of the five essayists reflected on her time as a plumber’s daughter, and the lessons she learned in that role. While many teens babysat or hung out by the pool lifeguarding, Kelley Schlise of Milwaukee spent her summers as a plumbing assistant. She went out on calls with her dad and worked for his one-man plumbing business.

As a young girl, Kelley navigated pipes, cords, walls, bathrooms and kitchens and chaos to help her dad diagnose and then fix the problem. The job was often messy and cumbersome, which conflicted with Kelley’s need for control and perfect organization. Plumbing challenged her controlling tendencies and perfectionism and taught her the value of elbow grease and perseverance.

Excerpt from her essay:

“As much as my dad and I create chaos, we create order, and if I look carefully I can find it in each newly soldered array of copper pipes or in the way my dad’s toolboxes all fit together in the back of his van. Moreover, when customers express gratitude for our work, I understand that, in a small way, we bring order to their lives. The physical and mental discomforts of plumbing are worth it.”

To read Kelley’s essay in its entirety, click here.


ATTENTION PLUMBERS AND PLUMBING INSPECTORS

We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary: Be a Plumber, Get Rich

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary knows money: how to make it, save it and spend it. The $400 million-dollar-man is used to dishing shrewd business advice. His latest recommendation? Get rich quick by becoming a plumber.

“Be a plumber, they get rich,” O’Leary said to CNBC. “Everybody has to have a plumber, even in a recession.” After all, plumbing will always be in style and it will always be in demand. Plus, the career is recession-proof.

“Every single building on earth wants to have electricity and plumbing working,” O’Leary told CNBC. “Think about it that way. I don’t care where you are, people are going to want your services.”

The need for plumbers is growing. Between 2016 and 2026, the job outlook will grow 16%, much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average income of a plumber is $53,910. There are fewer barriers to entry in the plumbing career field than getting a college degree. Many university graduates leave with student debt and aspiring plumbers can train then hop right into their careers.

U.S. News and World Report ranked plumbing as the 59th best career field in 2019, based on good pay, challenge, opportunity for advancement and good work-life balance.

Plus, plumbing exam prep and continuing education courses are easy and accessible with online programs.


ATTENTION PLUMBERS AND PLUMBING INSPECTORS

We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field
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