When it comes to fire protection systems, every component, big or small, plays a vital role in ensuring the system operates successfully to suppress fires and save lives and property.
One such component that is very easily overlooked is the Victaulic coupling.
What is a Victaulic or Mechanical Grooved Coupling?
Victaulic couplings, or mechanical grooved couplings (also called mechanical pipe joining systems), are components that join mechanical pipes together to create a watertight joint.
- Victaulic coupling parts: Invented out of need during WWI, Victaulic couplings (the registered trademark name of the joint/fitting) are comprised of a rubber gasket, metal coupling housing, and bolts and nuts for tightening and sealing the housing and gasket around the connecting pipes.
- How mechanical grooved couplings work: a groove is formed near the ends of the two pipes that are to be joined. A flexible (often rubber) gasket is placed around both pipe ends, connecting them. The metal housing – a sleeve of sorts – is then placed over the gasket and joined pipes and tightened with nuts and bolts.
As the housing is tightened down by the bolts, its long outer edges (called coupling keys) will engage into the grooves of the pipes and create a compressive force to the gasket lips. The gasket creates a pressure responsive seal on the outside diameter of the pipe that seals the joint and is watertight due to the pressure of the water on the inside of the pipe.
- Significance of grooved couplings: Grooved couplings replace the need for welding, flanging, or threading to join two pipe ends together. This means joining pipes requires far less labor and time both in manufacturing and assembling a pipe system. So, pipe systems utilizing these joints will be made much faster and cheaper.
It may also prove a more secure seal in certain circumstances, as was the case when the first Victaulic joint was created during WWI to create a safer flame thrower that did not leak burning oil all over the operator, as did the flame throwers that used flanged pipe joints.
- Types of piping that can utilize mechanical grooved couplings: grooved couplings have come a long way since their first appearance in the 1920s. Couplings now exist that can accommodate most types of piping material, including standard and extra-heavy steel, aluminum, PVC, stainless steel, light-wall, high-density polyethylene, and even ductile iron and copper tubing.
As should by now be evident, Victaulic couplings have vast applications across a host of industries, not just fire protection.
But, in this post, it is the use of mechanical grooved couplings in the fire protection industry that is of greatest interest.
The Role of Mechanical Grooved Couplings in Your Fire Protection System
The first grooved coupling created and approved for the fire protection industry was invented in 1952 by the Victaulic Company.
The largest application of these couplings in your fire protection system can be found in the automatic sprinkler system. Here they are used to join the system’s piping together and play an especially vital role in the riser room, where the sprinkler system’s pipes connect to the water supply’s pipes.
The advantages to mechanical grooved couplings in your automatic fire sprinkler system are numerous, not the least of which is the faster and more affordable installation process.
In addition to that, there is the easier method of inspection. While welded piping often requires the use of x-ray or ultrasonic technology to test the pipe-joints’ integrity, and flanged-joint piping requires the filling and pressurizing of the piping system, mechanical grooved pipe joining systems can often be inspected visually.
Furthermore, when grooved couplings are used to join the pipes, it is far easier to perform maintenance, repair, and removal of a malfunctioning or worn part. All that technicians have to do is drain the system and unscrew the bolts of the housing that join the needed pipe section. This makes maintenance/repairs fast and affordable in comparison to other methods of joining.
Contact Koorsen for All of Your Fire Protection Needs
Whether you have a concern about your current fire protection system’s condition or maintenance needs, or you are interested in new systems or services, Koorsen Fire & Security is here to help. With over 70 years in the industry, they can provide the expert knowledge and care you need to provide peace of mind.
Give them a call today.