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Annual vs. Five-Year Sprinkler Inspections

A fire sprinkler is only effective at protecting your business when every component in the system is in good condition. Since you never know when you will need to rely on your fire sprinkler to save lives and protect property, your five-year inspection is a vital task that verifies the capabilities of your sprinklers.

At Firetech Sprinkler Corp., our technicians can help prepare your system for inspection so that your system passes with flying colors. From preparation to completion, our team will guide you through every step of the process.

What Happens at an Annual Sprinkler Inspection?

Annual fire sprinkler inspections are less intensive than five-year inspections, but they are no less vital for your system’s safe, reliable performance. A licensed fire protection technician must perform the procedure. 

The inspection and testing requirements for annual inspections are governed by NFPA 25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.

A typical inspection will include the following tasks:

  • Inspect the system for physical damage. This includes inspecting water flow alarms, relief valves, check valves, main control valves, and pipes.
  • Inspect and confirm a proper number of sprinkler heads.
  • Test the main drain line.

A fire sprinkler inspection is underway as a technician checks the valve pipe

What Happens During a Five-Year Sprinkler Inspection?

The five-year internal fire sprinkler inspection is an NFPA-mandated examination. The purpose of the inspection is to confirm the integrity and capabilities of your fire sprinkler system. It’s an important process because water sitting within your pipes can cause the pipes to rust or pit, and minerals within hard water can settle and cause blockages; both are issues that can impede the life-saving purpose of the sprinkler system.

The first stage of the process is an initial assessment of the system. The inspector will open the flushing connection and remove a sprinkler from the end of the branch line. If this step uncovers foreign material, the inspector will perform a more thorough inspection that may involve flushing the system. In more extreme cases where flushing doesn’t resolve the issue, it may require replacing damaged pipe sections.

The next steps of the five-year inspection will evaluate many other aspects of your fire sprinkler system. This includes inspecting all gauges, confirming proper flow and hydrostatic pressure within automatic standpipe systems, inspecting valves, and a comprehensive inspection of the internal condition of pipes by opening selected points in mains, cross mains, and branch lines.

The Codes Behind a 5-Year Sprinkler Inspection

NFPA 25 codes require the following inspections and tests during the five-year sprinkler inspection:

Gauge Inspection Gauges shall be replaced or tested every five years by comparison with a calibrated gauge.

Standpipe Flow Test* A flow test shall be conducted every five years on all automatic standpipe systems to verify that the required flow and pressure are available at the hydraulically most remote hose valve outlet(s) while flowing the standpipe system demand. Where a flow test of the hydraulically most remote outlet(s) is impractical, the authority having jurisdiction shall be consulted for the appropriate location for the test. Pressure gauges maintained by shall be provided for the test.* Class I and Class III standpipe system demand shall include 500 gpm (1,892 L/min) for the most remote standpipe and 250 gpm (946 L/min) for each additional standpipe until the total system demand is simultaneously flowing.* The 250 gpm (946 L/min) required from each additional Class I and Class III standpipe shall be allowed to flow from the most convenient hose valve on that standpipe.* Where the 250 gpm (946 L/min) cannot be flowed from each additional Class I and Class III standpipe, the authority having jurisdiction shall determine where the additional flow can be taken. Class II standpipe system demand shall include 100 gpm (379 L/min) for the most remote standpipe connection. The demand for the standpipe system shall be based on the design criteria in effect at the time of installation. Where the standpipe system demand cannot be determined, the authority having jurisdiction shall determine the standpipe system demand. The actual test method(s) and performance criteria shall be discussed in advance with the authority having jurisdiction. 

Standpipe Hydrostatic Test* Hydrostatic tests of not less than 200 psi (13.8 bar) pressure for 2 hours, or at 50 psi (3.4 bar) over the maximum pressure, where maximum pressure is more than 150 psi (10.3 bar), shall be conducted every five years on manual standpipes.  

Check Valve Inspection Inspection: Valves shall be inspected internally every five years to verify that all components operate correctly, move freely, and are in good condition.

Internal Inspection of Piping

14.2.1 Except as discussed in and, an inspection of piping and branch line conditions shall be conducted every five years by opening a flushing connection at the end of one main and by removing a sprinkler toward the end of one branch line to inspect for the presence of foreign organic and inorganic material. Alternative nondestructive examination methods shall be permitted. Tubercules or slime, if found, shall be tested for indications of microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).* If the presence of sufficient foreign organic or inorganic material is found to obstruct pipe or sprinklers, an obstruction investigation shall be conducted as described in Section 14.3. Non-metallic pipe shall not be required to be inspected internally

14.2.2* In buildings with multiple wet pipe systems, every other system shall have an internal piping inspection every five years, as described in 14.2.1. If the presence of foreign organic and/or inorganic material is found in any system in a building during the five-year internal inspection of piping, all systems shall have an internal inspection.

Preparing for Annual and Five-Year Sprinkler Inspections

The most effective strategy to ensure your sprinkler system passes the inspection is to keep the system in good condition. This requires staying current on maintenance, promptly repairing damaged components, and addressing issues discovered during monthly, quarterly, and annual inspections. 

For all systems, passing the five-year inspection begins by ensuring proper lubrication of control valves, cleaning the interior of the pre-action/deluge valve, cleaning the dry pipe valves, and removing internal obstructions within the pipes. 

At Firetech Sprinkler Corp., our licensed fire protection technicians can maintain and repair your system so that when your 5-year inspection rolls around, your system is ready to go! Contact us at 802-655-1800 to schedule a service appointment or an appointment for a five-year inspection today!