Smart Solutions

Fresh Meadow Slashes Days Off Residential Riser Replacement Using Victaulic Couplings

Fresh Meadow removed and replaced a New York highrise’s original riser system using Victaulic Style 155 expansion joints and Style A10 riser anchors to accommodate thermal expansion and contraction. The self-contained joint assembly allowed them to work within the existing shaft, avoiding extra steps that would have affected the budget and schedule.

With only three weeks to fully replace the riser system at a high-profile residential building, New York-based Fresh Meadow Mechanical Corp. selected Victaulic to win the race against time. Ultimately, they remained ahead of schedule, completing the entire project in only 15 days. Despite spatial constraints at various stages of the project, Fresh Meadow navigated each challenge with reliable engineered solutions that will benefit the building’s tenants and management for years to come.

The existing riser system, original to the decades-old residential building, had degraded over time. A new system needed to be installed before New York’s cold weather kicked in and tenants were left with inadequate temperature control. To accomplish the job, Fresh Meadow needed to first extract the riser that ran from the first-floor ceiling up to the 18th-floor mechanical room. The return riser design also had to accommodate for thermal movement in the existing space. The final and most critical challenge was that the building would remain fully occupied, meaning Fresh Meadow needed to minimize disruptions and maintain occupants’ safety during installation.

Putting People First

During planning of the riser replacement project, Fresh Meadow evaluated the impact of the work on occupants and chose a grooved system over welding. The hot works and fumes generated during welding require a hot work safety program, including restricted work areas, permits, and fire watch. To building residents, welding would raise safety concerns, divert traffic patterns on every floor, and cause a noticeable, unpleasant smell. To mitigate the effect on occupants, Fresh Meadow worked with the Victaulic Piping Movement Design group to execute a grooved system while staying within budget and on schedule.

“We didn’t have to shut down anything and didn’t interrupt the tenants at all. We also knew we wanted to cut down on the noise and could do that using Victaulic,” said Keith McKee, Fresh Meadow’s superintendent for the project. “The only noise was tightening the couplings with an impact gun, which made the building managers happy.”

Tackling a Strict Schedule

Going floor to floor, Fresh Meadow cut the riser out of the wall, rigged it down a 17-story shaft, and then removed the obsolete pieces from the lobby level. The removal used up four days of the three-week timeline, but Fresh Meadow and Victaulic were confident the team would still deliver ahead of schedule.

The Victaulic-patented QuickVic Installation-Ready couplings installed throughout the riser system are designed to expedite pipe-joining. The two-piece housing design features shift-limiting slant pads that allow for one-touch tightening instead of alternating between bolts, accommodating high-performance impact guns and streamlining installation. On many retrofit projects, standard lengths of pipe tend to be larger than the service elevator. Contractors must choose between cutting pipe lengths to fit on the elevator—which translates to added welding time—and increasing material handling time and coordination of 21’ pipe lengths. Fresh Meadow avoided this lose-lose situation by cutting down pipe lengths to fit in the service elevator, and then joining riser sections within minutes using QuickVic Installation-Ready couplings.

“The pipes were taller than the floor-to-ceiling height, so we cut them in half to get them upstairs. Adding joints may have slowed us down in a different project, but Victaulic grooved connections made it a more efficient installation. We got the building back online much faster than if we had utilized other methods. It was the adaptability we needed for this retrofit,” said McKee.

Additionally, the collective Victaulic team, including the Piping Movement Design group, provided detailed drawings of pipe layouts to the on-site crew and coordinated expedited material deliveries so the project could progress from design to installation without pause.

Space-Saving Solutions

Restricted by the riser shaft’s tight dimensions, Fresh Meadow had to design a dual-temperature system that accounted for sufficient space for thermal expansion and contraction. “There was simply no room to put an expansion loop within the existing shaft,” explained Mike Russo, chief operating officer of Fresh Meadow.

“The owners would need to modify their occupied building, inevitably encroaching on hallway space and evaluating building code, in order to compensate for pipe growth caused by temperature changes using traditional methods like expansion loops.” said Russo. “Instead, using the Victaulic self-contained [Style 155] expansion joint assembly was advantageous because we could work within the existing shaft.”

Fresh Meadow installed two Victaulic Style 155 expansion joints with three Victaulic Style A10 riser anchors at specific levels of the multistory building to accommodate for thermal expansion and contraction. The engineered solution provided the necessary expansion and contraction capability without the need for additional coordination, review, and field work that would have affected the schedule and budget.

Read Victaulic’s white paper, “Using Grooved Mechanical Joining Systems to Accommodate Thermal Piping Movement.”

From Challenge to Triumph

Rapidly replacing an extensive system with minimal disruption to residents’ day-to-day life was a tall order. Attention to detail and thinking ahead during the design phase, combined with Victaulic’s Installation-Ready grooved couplings and engineered motion control solutions, enabled Fresh Meadow to set and maintain a furious pace, cutting a full week off of the project timeline.

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