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Posted on June 23, 2021

Sprinkler Fitter Apprentice Matt Gredler Installing Dry Pipe Valve

Every day at Wm. T. Spaeder Company, our technicians meet with situations in which they are challenged to create efficient and expedient solutions that are best for our customers. Our service teams work in various departments that specialize in everything from plumbing and HVAC to fire protection – all the major mechanical systems in your home or business.

Recently, one of our long-standing customers, Curtze Foods, was having some difficulties with a jockey pump running due to a possible water main break. Our Fire Protection Foreman Abe Bretz went out to investigate. After a careful look at the problem, he determined that the underground water main needed to be repaired and that the three dry pipe valves in the fire pump room were also due for an update. The dry pipe valves were old Reliable Model C’s. The Model C’s, developed in the 1950’s, by Reliable Automatics Sprinkler Company, was a great combination of “reliability” and simplicity. Time marches on, however, and so does progress. For the system update, we replaced the Model C’s with Model FX’s. The Model C’s and FX’s are very similar, only the Model C’s were made out of heavy cast iron and lacked an external reset. This valve also only came flange x flange.

(FROM RELIABLE WEBSITE: The Reliable Model FX Dry Pipe Valve is a differential-principle, externally resettable valve designed for use as a primary control valve in a dry pipe system. The valve clapper is held in the set position by pneumatic pressure acting on a larger surface area than that of the incoming water pressure. Release of pneumatic pressure from the system allows the dry pipe valve to open. The Model FX valve is available with grooved end, flanged end, or flange x grooved end connections (see Table A). For more information, please check out

Cast Iron Model C’s

To complete the work, there were a number of steps involved, starting with removing the dirt from around the water main. Due to spatial restrictions, the Spaeder team used a process called “hydro excavating.” Hydro excavating is the removing dirt or soil with pressurized water and a vacuum truck. The loose soil is then vacuumed out into a debris tank. This technique is much less destructive and a more precise way of removing soil and isolating underground structures, particularly in small areas where using a large excavator would be next to impossible.


After the excavation, the team replaced the existing underground piping from the fire pump building and under the footer of the main building to the new flange location. The new piping was wrapped in V-Bio plastic which is required by Erie Water Works. (V-Bio plastic is a polywrap encasement that inhibits corrosion to form on the piping). After the pipe was installed, the hole was backfilled using flowable fill which made the backfilling easier. Flowable fill is a mixture comprised of cement, sand, and other materials. It is a self-compacting low strength material with a flowable consistency that is used as backfill in tight locations.

V-Bio Plastic & Filled In Area – Click to Enlarge

The remaining portion of the hole was filled with stone and the concrete floor was replaced. Finally, the finished Reliable FX external reset dry pipe valves were put into place. You will notice that they were installed at a slight angle due to the space requirements between the valves and to accommodate for the small room size.

The total replacement took about a week from start to finish. The dry pipe valves were fully tripped tested, drained, reset, and put back in normal operating settings.

Reliable Fx’s

The Wm. T. Spaeder Company provides a variety of mechanical services include fire protection, plumbing, HVAC, and water treatment. Spaeder offers design, installation, repair & replacement, preventative maintenance, inspections as well as 24-7 emergency service. The Spaeder team puts the same consideration and care into smaller service jobs as well as large commercial contracts. Contact our industry specialists for more information or call 814.456.7014 for immediate service.

Photos Courtesy of Fire Protection Foreman Abe Bretz



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