Grooved-end pipe joining was the contractor’s choice for HVAC systems in the new Sussex Coast College building. The weld-free solution saved time and money, was kind to the environment and enabled the project to be completed safely on schedule.
Sussex Coast College occupies a state-of-the-art, six-storey building in the heart of Hastings. A modern high-tech building called for modern high-tech engineering services, and meeting the construction schedule for the landmark building was critical. So when it came to selecting the best pipework systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, mechanical contractor, Halsion, chose grooved-end pipe-joining technology in favour of traditional welding for the £14m project.
Halsion not only needed to find an efficient and reliable means of connecting pipes to distribute water throughout the building, it also had to equip five mechanical plantrooms. These were required for the chilled water, low-temperature hot water, and domestic hot and cold water systems.
The contractor had used Victaulic couplings and fittings before and experienced the many advantages they offer over welding. The method works by forming a groove in the pipe end and fitting a coupling which houses a pressure-responsive gasket to form a strong, secure joint. Just two bolts need to be tightened to install the coupling and create a union at each pipework joint. “Whenever I’ve used Victaulic I’ve found it to be the most economical and most ozone-friendly method,” said Peter Hanson, Halsion construction manager for the project. “It’s clean, quick and cost-effective with no welding and no hot works.”
Being quick and easy to install, the couplings save time and cut labour costs but Hanson identified other benefits. “You don’t have to wait for hot works permits or have a fire watch after you’ve finished welding and there are fewer health and safety risks,” he said. “It’s easier to flush and clean the system as you don’t get swarf in the strainers so it’s a big advantage when it comes to commissioning.”
Grooved valves were also used in the mechanical rooms for ease and speed of installation and added reliability. Whilst a traditional flanged pump arrangement with an inside diameter of 3” (80mm) would have required upto 120 bolts, grooved valves were installed in a fraction of the time. With just two bolts to tighten for each of the 12 couplings and two flange adapters, the number of bolts was reduced to 40. The need for costly and bulky rubber bellows was eliminated by placing three flexible couplings either side of each pump set and chillers for superior noise and vibration attenuation. The compactness and light weight of the grooved systems used also helped reduce the plantroom footprint.
By eliminating welding and flanging and sourcing all the items needed from a single supplier, Halsion was able to deliver a quality result on time and on budget. Grooved technology is now the company’s number one choice. “Whenever we get a project and it specifies welding in plantrooms I get it changed straightaway if I can,” Hanson said. “It takes a lot to convince me to move from one system to another but Victaulic products speak for themselves. I’m a 100% convert.”
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