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Benefits of Using Flex Drops
By CAD Designer, Ahern Fire Protection-Des Moines
Flex drops are flexible hose assemblies that consist of a fitting to attach to the branch line and a fitting for the sprinkler with a flexible hose between. These sprinkler flex drops are used to replace the hard drops out of the branch line. Manufacturers continue to develop better flex-drop products that are easier to install and boost productivity.
Some advantages to owners or general contractors include:
- Easier coordination due to the flexible connection
- Ability to flex the head to angled ceilings
- Allowance for some ceiling movement due to HVAC, ceiling height revisions, or grid alignment
One of the hardest obstacles to overcome for sprinkler contractors is that flex drops have a higher cost. The truth is, hard drops have a cheaper material cost but a higher labor cost. Flex drops might cost more for materials, but the corresponding labor savings make them very cost effective. Another advantage of flex drops is related to testing – flex drops with heads can be installed during rough-in, allowing the system to be tested before the ceilings are installed and requiring less time for the final placement of pendant heads. The flexible connection would allow the head to be moved into place without draining the tested system. Hard drops are made up of several parts, and if you are missing any of those fittings you are unable to complete the drop. With flex drops, all fittings are contained in a single unit. They are able to bend and rotate in all directions, which is very helpful when maneuvering around an obstacle in a tight space.
Flex drops come in several different lengths (up to 6’) for adequate pipe support – they don’t require hangers – and come in sizes to fit a variety of applications, including both drywall and suspended ceilings. They can be installed with a variety of mounting brackets, allowing you to do things such as mounting directly in the center of a tile, or mounting the bracket and head in the track without touching the tiles.
Flex drops are made of a corrosion-resistant material that comes in either a braided or non-braided line. They can be ordered with an outlet reducer for the sprinkler head, or with a 90-degree bend at the outlet, which is beneficial for use under duct work or in tight spaces.
Overall, flex drops may have a higher material cost, but the return you receive at installation and the clean, quality finished product is worth the investment. These assemblies should be a strong consideration on your next project!
Contact Ahern about how flex drops can benefit your next sprinkler installation project.