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Pipe Collar or Pipe Wrap – which do I use and what’s the difference?

Intumescent pipe collars and intumescent pipe wraps essentially do the same job – they protect service penetrations, typically plastic pipes, at the point where they go through a fire compartment wall or floor and they will both achieve up to 4 hours’ fire rating.

So what’s the difference?

A pipe collar can be fitted in nearly all applications and is extremely universal.  The metal ‘band’ around the outside of the collar means that when the intumescent material starts to expand with the heat of the fire, it is unable to expand outwards.  It exerts tremendous pressure on the plastic pipe and literally crushes it inwards, completely sealing the hole.  As a result of this, the fire is unable to pass through the impenetrable barrier of the activated intumescent material, containing the smoke and fire in one compartment.

A pipe wrap achieves the same end result, but it has no metal band around it.  Therefore, it needs to be inserted within a solid construction masonry wall so that the intumescent material can only expand inwards and seal the hole.  If you just fit the wrap around the pipe and leave it “in the open’” the intumescent will simply expand into thin air and achieve nothing.

Plasterboard partitions are a typical example of where you must use a pipe collar – a wrap will not work at all.  Pipe collars must also be used in plaster/timber ceilings and floors.

So why not just use pipe collars for all applications?  Well, you can, but pipe wraps have some advantages of their own. For example, they are considerably cheaper to buy and they are also pretty much invisible when installed carefully while a pipe collar, by comparison, is extremely visible.  Also, if a pipe is fitted nice and tight to a wall, you often can’t physically get a pipe collar around the pipe, so a wrap can be used instead.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that if the fire protection is being retro fitted, is the plastic pipes are already in place. Therefore, it’s often easier to install pipe collars rather than pipe wraps, as it’s extremely difficult to open up the hole in the masonry that’s big enough to slide a wrap in.

Apart from pipe wraps having to be installed specifically within a solid construction masonry wall, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pipe wraps and pipe collars, and the multitude of possible applications can make it quite complicated.

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