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#78 -- Which Fire Sprinkler Escutcheon Do I Need?

Posted by Jason Hugo and Anna Hartenbach on 10/12/2017 to Fire Sprinkler Escutcheons
If you’ve landed on this page, it’s probably because you have a fire sprinkler escutcheon in need of replacement. Are you wondering which escutcheon you need? Then this article is for you!

For starters, any escutcheon with damage, rust, or discoloration should be replaced. Additionally, its necessary to replace an escutcheon that has been painted by anyone besides the manufacturer. Alternatively, if you change your ceiling or wall colors, you can definitely change your escutcheons for a more aesthetically pleasing look. All of the above are perfectly legitimate reasons to need a new fire sprinkler escutcheon.

In this article, we’ll learn (and see) what an escutcheon is, what it does, and why they’re necessary. Furthermore, we’ll explore the different types and how to replace them. If you already know what escutcheon you need, feel free to jump directly to our amazing selection of escutcheons.

However, if you need a little guidance first, continue onward in this escutcheon journey with us.

What is a fire sprinkler escutcheon and why do I need one?

A fire sprinkler escutcheon is essentially a decorative trim around a fire sprinkler head that covers the gap in between the sprinkler head and the drywall or ceiling tile. They are necessary to ensure that the fire sprinkler head will activate properly.

There are two main types of accessories found with fire sprinkler heads: fire sprinkler cover plates and fire sprinkler escutcheons. While escutcheons are distinctly different from cover plates, they’re easily confused.

During a fire sprinkler system installation, a hole saw is used to cut a hole in the ceiling tile or drywall to accommodate the sprinkler heads. If the remainder of the hole is left uncovered, the sprinkler head is unable to perform properly, as smoke and heat can escape through the gap and potentially delay the activation and discharge of water. In instances where the activation of the system is dependent on an alarm or smoke detector, the outflow of heat and smoke through the open areas can create a delay.

This brings us to our next topic…

What are the types of fire sprinkler escutcheon?

To be exact, there are three primary styles of fire sprinkler escutcheon: recessed, flat, and adjustable.

All available styles and colors are listed in a table below. Click the photos of the escutcheon types to jump to their respective sections.

Flat Escutcheon

A flat escutcheon is exactly as the name portrays – flat. Flat escutcheons are meant to cover the gap for flush fire sprinkler heads.

Adjustable Escutcheon

An adjustable escutcheon comes in two pieces: a cup and a skirt. The skirt covers the cutout space between the sprinkler and the ceiling. The cup is the part that actually adjusts – anywhere up to 2” to meet the sprinkler head. If that isn’t enough, consider an extension.

Adjustable escutcheons work best in fire sprinkler systems where the distance between the ceiling or wall and the branch lines are varied. For example, in an angled ceiling that descends, the sprinklers will be at different distances from the branch line. Branch lines deliver water from the crossmain to the fire sprinkler head. Think of a tree, water flows up into the trunk and out through the branches to hydrate the whole tree and leaves – a fire sprinkler system works much the same, as water flows up into the water main and out to the branch lines to supply water to the sprinkler heads.

Recessed Escutcheon

A recessed escutcheon has an outer ring and recesses to an inner ring that wraps around the base of the fire sprinkler head. From the floor, it’s nearly impossible to tell that recessed escutcheons are actually two separate parts. The outer ring lies flush against the ceiling or wall and has a base that goes up into the cut-out area of the ceiling. The inner ring is held in place by the sprinkler’s frame and the outer ring. The outer ring is removable, leaving the inner ring connected to the sprinkler.

In the instance that the escutcheon cannot completely cover the hole in the drywall or ceiling tile, you may consider adding a Kydex ring, too. In addition to larger-than-average holes, they can be used to correct mis-cuts or as backing material. Kydex rings are an inexpensive solution to an otherwise expensive problem.

As stated above, choosing the correct type of escutcheon is crucial to ensure the proper function of the fire sprinkler head. According to NFPA 13, failure to use the correct escutcheon can disrupt the spray pattern or impair the operation of the sprinkler.

From the 2016 Edition of NFPA 13:
Plates, escutcheons, or other devices used to cover the annular space around a sprinkler shall be metallic or shall be listed for use around a sprinkler.*Escutcheons used with recessed, flush-type, or concealed sprinklers shall be part of a listed sprinkler assembly.
A. use of the wrong type of escutcheon with recessed or flush-type sprinklers can result in severe disruption of the spray pattern, which can destroy the effectiveness of the sprinkler.

Most fire sprinkler manufacturers make escutcheons specific to their sprinkler heads, but many can be used with a generic escutcheon. To learn more about the fire sprinkler heads within your system, look at the markings on the deflector (the star shape). The deflector is stamped with the model (SIN character), response type, its temperature rating, and listings. Once you can identify the manufacturer and model, look up the data sheet which will show you the expected type of fire sprinkler escutcheon you’ll need. For fire sprinklers sold on QRFS.com, the data sheet is accessible through the product page.

Are there different sizes of escutcheon? What size do I need?

Each type of escutcheon comes in two sizes: ½” or ¾.” The size of escutcheon you need is dependent on the K-Factor or orifice size of your fire sprinkler head.

Escutcheons are available in ½” and ¾” because those correlate to 5.6 and 8.0 K-Factors, respectively, the two most common. Fire sprinkler heads with a 5.6 K-Factor have a ½” orifice and sprinkler heads with an 8.0 K-Factor have a ¾” orifice.

To identify your sprinkler’s K-Factor, find the SIN and look up the data sheet. There is no easy visual identifier besides the diameter of the threads, which are likely hidden if the sprinkler is installed. If you have issues, contact us, we can help!

How do I replace my fire sprinkler escutcheon?

The best way to replace a damaged, rusty, discolored, or painted fire sprinkler escutcheon is a with a “spilt” or retro-fit escutcheon of the same type that was originally used in the system. However, it’s important to remember that maintenance work should be performed by a licensed sprinkler fitter.

Split escutcheons (sometimes called retro-fit escutcheons) are available in recessed, adjustable, and flat. They come in ½” and ¾,” too. Their only difference is that they are split in half, giving you the ability to detach and fasten the two halves back together without removing the fire sprinkler or draining the system. In short, their purpose is to make your life easier!

Traditional fire sprinkler escutcheons are fitted during the fire sprinkler installation process by screwing on to the sprinkler’s frame. Therefore, they are not replaceable without removing the sprinkler to screw on a new escutcheon. Split escutcheons allow you to forego the hassle of putting the sprinkler system offline, draining it, removing the sprinkler head to install the new escutcheon, and returning everything to normal. To install a split escutcheon, begin by cutting one side of the faulty escutcheon, remove it, and fasten the new split escutcheon around the sprinkler.

Why should I buy an escutcheon from QRFS?

At QRFS we have a full selection of flat, adjustable, and recessed escutcheons – most with split options. When you purchase from QRFS, you receive quality products at our competitive prices. Because we are keen on getting your order to you as quickly as possible, we begin processing your order the day we receive it, allowing for a speedy standard delivery that generally meets your doorstep in 2-3 business days.

We strive to remain current on industry best practices and NFPA code so we can help you get the information you need as soon as you need it. At QRFS, we focus on providing you with the latest and greatest products and services to save you energy, time, and money.

Flat Escutcheon

Adjustable Escutcheon

Recessed Escutcheon

Have a question? Add a comment below for us, and we’ll reply as soon as we can to get you on the right track!

This blog was originally posted by Jason Hugo and Anna Hartenbach at QRFS.com/blog on October 12, 2017. If this article helped you select the right escutcheon, check us out at Facebook.com/QuickResponseFireSupply or on Twitter @QuickResponseFS.

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