An Introduction to ECS Analytical Services

Posted by Geert Van Moorsel, P.E. on Nov 21, 2018 7:47:00 AM

At Engineered Corrosion Solutions (ECS), we have always seen ourselves as problem solvers first and foremost.

When we first entered the fire sprinkler market, we immediately began testing to question some of the basic practices that were in place regarding corrosion, from the effectiveness of using galvanized pipe to prevent internal corrosion to the role of Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC). We continue to apply that desire for fact finding in the Analytical Services we provide today.

Our corrosion monitoring services can be divided into two main categories:

  • Pipe Failure Analyses – Using a combination of pipe sample, deposit, and water testing, we determine the most likely cause of the failure.
  • On-Site Corrosion Assessments – Utilizing a video scope and review of the system design, we determine the location and severity of corrosion within a fire sprinkler system. This testing often also includes a number of pipe failure analyses to gather the hard data needed to quantify the cause and severity of the damage that has occurred.

Pipe Failure Analyses

Our clients typically first reach out to us about a pipe failure analysis once leaks have begun to develop on their fire sprinkler system. The building owner or their service contractor want to figure out what is causing these leaks to develop and what corrective action can be taken to prevent future corrosion.

For a typical pipe sample analysis, a section of the pipe containing the failure is sent in. The sample is sectioned and media blasted to remove any adherent deposits, allowing for close inspection of the metal loss that has occurred. Review of the metal loss morphology indicates the types of corrosion mechanism at work, while wall thickness and pit depth measurements help to quantify the severity of the metal loss that has occurred.

For more complex samples, water and deposit samples may also be taken to determine what additional factors may be influencing corrosion.

On-Site Corrosion Assessments

These thorough investigations take the process one step further. In addition to determining the cause of the corrosion occurring in a system, a review of system design and installation along with an on-site internal investigation determines how widespread corrosion has been in the system.

Along with recommendations on preventing further corrosion, these assessments also provide recommendations on corrective action that should be taken to eliminate leak risk from already damaged systems.

Based on past projects, assessments are typically performed for three primary reasons:

  • Leaks have become enough of a nuisance that pipe replacement is being considered, but hard data is needed to determine what pipe should be replaced and what can be salvaged.
  • Business operations in a facility are acutely sensitive to interruption by leaks. The building owner/service contractor/insurance representative want to gather hard data to quantify the risk of future leaks developing, so corrective action can be taken if necessary.
  • A building is being acquired/sold, and an interested party in the sale wants to ensure that the fire sprinkler system will not contribute to large unexpected repair/replacement costs in the future.

Regardless of the reason for being concerned about the condition of your fire sprinkler system, the only way to make informed decisions on how to mitigate risk is by using corrosion monitoring methods to collect hard data from the system. While several nondestructive methods are mentioned in NFPA 25, the most useful data is collected by opening the system, inspecting the internal conditions, and taking pipe samples to quantify the severity of the corrosion that has occurred.

To find out more about how ECS can help mitigate risk, or to discuss a specific project, please contact us today.

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Geert Van Moorsel, P.E.

Written by Geert Van Moorsel, P.E.

Analytical Services Manager