Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to identify UL Firestop Systems

flameFirestopping is not limited to just the product, whether packaged in a tube or pail.  Firestopping is the combination of several items that makeup a Firestop System.  Firestop Systems are fire tested and listed with UL. They include the wall or floor, a penetrating item or gap, and the firestop material.

Installations instructions per tested and listed system are published in laboratory directories and are freely available to authorities having jurisdiction for inspection and for compliance with local building codes.

Every Building Inspector should not only look for a professional installation, but also that the instructions were followed to assure a proper installation according to the tested system.

It is important to understand the terminology used by UL and other laboratories.  Testing labs like UL do not approve firestop systems.  Only the authority having jurisdiction approves details used on a project.

The UL Classification designation denotes that a product has been tested for use per a specific standard.  Many products such as cell phones, electronic equipment, etc., have a UL classification with the UL logo, but have not been evaluated as a firestop.

The UL designation indicates that the product has been tested as a system and this system along with installation instructions is published in a directory for reference.

There are thousands of tested and listed systems.  Each one belongs to a particular manufacturer and are tested ONLY for a particular product and specific applications.  Different manufacturers’ products may never be substituted into a design for another manufacturers tested system.

UL terminology for through penetration firestop systems:

The first character defines the assembly being penetrated. The 2nd set of characters further defines the type of assembly. The first number defines the penetrant type.  The final 3 numbers complete the system number and are assigned sequentially as the listings are generated.

By looking at system number CAJ1079 for example, one could deduce immediately that the listing is applicable for a metallic pipe penetrating through a concrete floor or wall.  The actual listed system must be referenced for specific requirements.

UL terminology  for fire resistive joint systems:

The 1st two characters define the type of construction joint. The 2nd designation defines the movement capability of the system. The first number defines the joint width. The final 3 numbers complete the system number and are assigned sequentially as the listings are generated.

By looking at system number HWD0034, one could deduce immediately that the listing is applicable for a head of wall joint that is two inches or less.  The actual listed system must be referenced for specific requirements.

In order to ensure that the correct listed system in being used, you must gather all the information needed by asking the right questions.

There are five steps to selecting the appropriate through-penetration firestop system.  These steps are:

  1. Determine the type of wall or floor assembly (concrete, cement block or gypsum, etc.)
  2. Determine the type of penetration (plastic or metal pipe, conduit, wires, etc.)
  3. Determine the opening size
  4. Determine rating requirements (F-rating, T-ratings, 1 hr, 2 hr, etc.)
  5. Determine any other special conditions.

The same method holds true for finding the right fire resistive joint system.

There are six steps to selecting the appropriate joint system.  These steps are:

  1. What types of building assemblies form the joint?
  2. What materials are the assemblies constructed from?
  3. What is the required hourly rating?
  4. What is the width of the joint?
  5. How much movement is required?
  6. Are there any special conditions?

There are six questions to ask in selecting the appropriate perimeter barrier system.  These questions are:

  1. What is the composition of the exterior wall?
  2. What supports the exterior wall?
  3. What is the required hourly rating?
  4. What is the width of the joint?
  5. How much movement is required?
  6. Are there any special conditions?

Sewer Backups

SewerSewer backups can cause costly repairs not to mention the messy cleanup. Most basements are susceptible to this type of flooding because they are below ground level. Sewer lines backup from clogs caused by excessive grease, waste, tree roots or breaks in the sewer line. When the sewer line backs up, it comes through floor drains and toilets at the lowest point in your home or business. Your home or building may be susceptible to sewage backups if the lowest drain is less than 24” above the nearest upstream manhole. When the pipes are filled the water has to flow backwards therefore entering the home or business.

Homeowners are responsible for the sewer lines connected from their home to the main sewer line. The city is responsible for backups caused by structural defects such as cracked pipe and blockages located in the right-of-way. Most blockages are the homeowner’s responsibility.

One way to prevent sewage backup into your home or business is to install a “back-flow valve” on the lowest drain or ground line. This is the best protection against sewer backups.

A “back-flow valve” is required by IPC and UPC plumbing codes, as well as by many state and local plumbing codes, when the cover of the nearest upstream manhole is above the flood rim of the lowest fixture in the building.

A “back-flow valve” is a mechanism that prevents sewer backups by providing a physical barrier to sewerage backflow. A “back-flow valve” is designed most commonly with a flapper that swings open to allow flow through the line exiting your home but closes to form a tight seal in the event of back up by preventing wastewater from flowing in the opposite direction and entering the home. If a clog occurs the backflow valve will stop the sewage from entering your home.

“Back flow valves” should be cleaned and inspected once a year. Talk to your plumber about cleaning and installing a new valve if necessary. With some “back flow valves” this requires a concrete manhole or vault to allow access, and is expensive. An extendable backwater valve is available by RectorSeal  called “Clean Check®”, the flapper can be brought to ground level for inspection and/or replacement.  The unique design allows accessibility at any burial depth, thus eliminating the need for manholes and vaults; it is buried using a riser pipe and standard cleanout plug.

For more information on the Clean Check extendable backwater valve, click here



HOUSTON, TX – The NEWS’ 2011 eighth annual Dealer Design Awards program winners have been declared. Approximately 30 contractor judges examined 127 products entries to determine the winners. The program was designed to emphasize the features designed to ease contractors’ daily workload, the judges are HVACR contractors.

RectorSeal® Safe-T-Switch® SS3CT received honorable mention in the components and accessories category. The SS3CT switch is a “normally open” condensate control switch specifically designed for use with today’s communicating thermostats. It features a slim-profile design that fits most primary and secondary drain pans, it connects to accessory wires, and it has a “snap-and-go” mounting bracket for easy installation.

RectorSeal® Mighty Pump™ also received an honorable mention in the components and accessories category. Mighty Pump™ is an A/C condensate drain line pump that easily clears blocked drain line without nitrogen, gas cartridges or electricity. With the re-useable, heavy duty Mighty Pump™, contractors can quickly clear slime, mold and dirt plugs from primary and secondary condensate drain lines. Made of heavy-duty molded PVC, the Mighty Pump™ is lightweight, but generates enough power to clear plugged drain lines. It’s a reversible, hand-operated pump that can be used to vacuum or blow out a clogged drain line from inside or outside the structure. It can also be used to empty water out of A/C condensate pans, secondary overflow pans, water heater overflow pans, tubs, and toilets.

All the winners can be viewed in the July 11, 2011 issue of the NEWS.

Founded in 1937, The Rectorseal Corporation is a leading manufacturer of chemical and specialty products designed for professional tradesmen. Steady growth over the years has been maintained through a commitment to providing high quality products and services.  With a diversified business strategy, RectorSeal aggressively pursues new and unique technologies to serve the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical and construction industries.  The  Rectorseal Corporation is devoted to providing innovative quality products supported by strong customer and technical service.


Internal Pipe Wrench

Ask any tradesman and they will probably tell you that the simplest jobs can sometimes be the most difficult if you don’t have the right tools.

Take for example, a service plumber or a maintenance contractor that gets a call because of a broken off shower arm that needs repair at a residence, a student dormitory or maybe a hospital facility.  The threaded shower arm is broken off in the threaded fitting and is behind the tile wall making it impossible to get to without having to bust out the shower tiles and sheet rock in the process.  What will he do? How about a mechanical or heating contractor that is on a job and needs to remove an old short length (close) nipple from an existing threaded connection and replace it with a new chrome or brass finish nipple. He puts his wrench around the old nipple to remove it, applies pressure and the nipple breaks off inside the fitting. Now what?  Better yet, once removed, how will he install the new decorative chrome nipple without marring the finish?

This is an ongoing problem that most repair and maintenance contractor’s face when working with small diameter threaded nipples and shower arms that eventually need repair or replacement. Some contractors will take a chisel and hammer and tap the broken nipple out of the fitting if they can even get to it. The time consuming and expensive method of busting out tile and sheetrock just to get to the problem still exists. There are “extractors” on the market that will help remove old threaded nipples and shower arms and there are “strap wrenches” and traditional wrenches that are used to install new ones, but they both fall short. It still takes two tools to do one job.

Answer:  A self-locking, reversible, internal pipe wrench that will attach to either a standard  ratchet, extension or impact wrench that will REMOVE and then INSTALL  most schedule 40  threaded nipples and shower arms by simply applying pressure to the inside wall of the of the nipple instead of the outside wall. It prevents damage to the threads on new installations. The ratchet gives the contractor plenty of leverage. An extension on the ratchet will reach behind the wall without having to remove tile or sheetrock. The internal pipe wrench is one tool that will do two jobs!

For more information on the Golden Grip® Internal pipe wrench click here



Firestopping in actionFIRESTOP APPLICATIONS

Installation is the final chapter for firestopping. Once installed, the firestop material must stay in place until it is needed to perform its function. Providing passive fire protection and life safety is possible only if the firestop material is installed correctly. Remember that the material itself has no real rating—only the tested system provides safety. For instance, a plumbing contractor who is installing supply and wastewater systems on a project will make holes through fire-resistance rated assemblies, run the necessary piping through the penetrations, and then close the holes with the appropriate firestop system. This process involves understanding what the building code requires, knowing the rating of the assembly, and selecting the appropriate tested and listed firestop system to install in conjunction with the correct material required by that system.

Although in many cases firestopping systems are installed by the contractor who is performing the actual work, it is possible for many different types of contractors to install a firestop. It is fairly common for general contractors to take on the responsibility for installing the firestop, and sometimes projects require all of the firestop to be installed by a single contractor or even by a specialty contractor whose primary business is firestop installation. A contractor installing firestop must select products that are appropriate to the specific application. Many different types of firestopping materials and products are available today. Understanding that no universal product will work for every firestop application is the first step to selecting the right product. While some fairly general statements can be made about firestop materials and their appropriate uses, keep in mind that every tested system is manufacturer or product specific. One product cannot be interchanged with another firestop manufacturer’s material.

Intumescent Materials

Intumescent refers to a material that expands when exposed to sufficient heat. A good way to describe this action is to consider black snake fireworks. When ignited, black snakes continuously create ashes that look like snakes due to intumescent reaction.

Intumescent firestop materials are one of the primary groups of products utilized in applications where one of the components in the assembly will deteriorate or burn away during fire exposure. The intumescent activity of the firestop closes the void that is created when the item melts or burns away, thus maintaining the integrity of the rate assembly. Intumescent firestop materials can come in many forms, from caulks to metallic collars with intumescent strip linings, with each product being designed for a specific purpose.


Simple mastics or sealants commonly are used to seal penetration firestopping as well as construction joint firestop applications. These sealants are available in various forms and chemical formulations, but the one thing they all have in common is that their performance is solely dependant on the system in which they are tested.

Firestop sealants in caulk, self-leveling, and spray grade are readily available in silicone, latex, and solvent-based products. They often require the addition of a backing material in the system for support. Sealants are probably the most recognized group of firestop products as firestop caulk is common to most construction projects because of its numerous applications.


Firestop Devices

Another common product group is firestop devices, which range from simple collars to more complex sleeves and cast-in-place devices that are stand-alone firestop products.

A firestop collar or pipe collar usually consists of a metallic ring with an intumescent strip applied to the interior circumference of the metal housing. The collar is placed around a penetrating item, usually a non-metallic pipe, and permanently affixed to the fire-rated assembly. Firestop intumescent sleeves are metallic sheets with intumescent material adhered to one side. These sleeves can be placed around penetrating items and inserted into the wall to provide passive fire protection. One of the benefits of this type of device is that it allows for protection where collars cannot, such as when a penetration is at an angle. A cast-in-place firestop device usually has a plastic outer housing similar to a concrete sleeve with the addition of intumescent material affixed to the interior of the sleeve. These devices are attached to the form decking of poured in-place concrete structures prior to the concrete floor being poured.


For More Information

There are numerous types of firestop products and even more firestop applications in the ever-changing world of commercial construction. The best place to find in-depth information about products is the firestop manufacturers’ websites.

When you utilize tested applications and correctly install the firestop product, you ensure life safety for the people occupying the building.


Insert from “Stop Fire in its Tracks” by Riley Archer