Winter is Coming: Protect Your Property with these Simple Steps for Fire Sprinkler Maintenance
As a building owner, it is imperative that you understand the NFPA 25 standard for maintaining your sprinkler system – particularly as cold weather approaches. Although these aren’t a complete set of guidelines, below you will find our tips to ready your sprinkler system for the onset of cold weather.
Understanding Fire Sprinkler Systems
Fire sprinkler systems can be categorized into two main types, although there are lots of customizable components available by a fire sprinkler design team, like Firetech Sprinkler Corp.
These two main systems are dry fire sprinkler systems and wet fire sprinkler systems.
Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems
Dry fire sprinkler systems fill their pipes with air or nitrogen, as opposed to water. They exist to serve areas that can’t stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. During a fire, the heat triggers the system, which releases the pressurized gas and allows water to flow from the main supply pipe into an opening in the pipes.
Wet Fire Sprinkler Systems
Wet fire sprinkler systems are commonly found in heated buildings because they’re efficient and offer prompt response to fires. These systems contain water-filled pipes connected to a network of sprinklers.
These designs include antifreeze loops filled with an antifreeze solution, which gives added protection against freezing temperatures. Prior to the chilly weather hitting, you’ll need to have an expert check it to ensure it’s ready to go in case of a fire.
Our technicians will check to see if there is enough antifreeze concentration in each loop.
A wet fire system goes off when high temperatures hit the heat-sensitive element within the individual sprinkler head. This process causes an immediate discharge of water directly at the source of heat, quickly controlling or extinguishing the flames before they can spread further.
Wet fire sprinklers can pose certain challenges during colder months if they’re not adequately protected from freezing conditions. Sprinkler pipes can freeze and subsequently burst if building temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This can lead to serious water damage.
While wet fire sprinkler systems serve as effective tools for minimizing fire-related risks and damages under normal circumstances, they require diligent monitoring and maintenance during winter months to ensure peak performance throughout the year.
Furthermore, adherence to regular maintenance schedules is necessary for detecting leaks early on. This prevents possible corrosion-induced damage that could cause system malfunction.
Risks of Not Winterizing Your Fire Sprinkler System
Frozen sprinkler pipes can cause extensive water damage. If you don’t adequately winterize, you could allow water to freeze in the system, leading to pipe bursts when it turns to ice and expands.
This common scenario during winter leads to emergency service calls and costly repairs, disrupting your fire protection and potentially causing significant flood damage in your building.
Unheated structures are particularly at risk if their systems aren’t adequately maintained for cold weather. For instance, stairways or entryways that don’t receive enough heat can create the perfect storm of an environment for freezing issues to occur.
The danger extends beyond just material damages; a compromised fire sprinkler system could fail when you need it most, putting lives at stake. There’s also a risk of potential property loss if your building catches fire during the winter months.
Cold weather preventative maintenance ensures optimal functionality while reducing hassle and expenses related to unexpected system failures from frozen pipes.
Steps to Winterize Your Fire Sprinkler System
To winterize your fire sprinkler system, follow these steps for regular maintenance and for cold weather maintenance for wet systems and dry systems.
Regular maintenance plays a critical role in the effective operation of fire sprinkler systems. Lack of proper upkeep has been identified as a primary cause of system failures.
NFPA 25 emphasizes an obligatory routine inspection, testing, and service protocol to maintain optimal functionality. This maintenance becomes increasingly vital during winter months due to the risk of frozen pipes, warranting greater attention for both wet and dry sprinkler systems.
Regularly scheduled checks can help identify any leaks or corrosion early on while ensuring that the antifreeze concentration remains at efficient levels. Firetech Sprinkler Corp. offers comprehensive system inspections alongside timely repairs and advice necessary for cold weather preventative measures.
Cold Weather Maintenance for Wet Systems
Here are some important measures to consider for your wet sprinkler system as the temperatures grow cooler:
- Maintain building heat: Keeping the building heated is crucial in preventing freezing. Make sure the building temperature always remains above 40 degrees (F).
- Test antifreeze systems: Before freezing weather arrives, test the antifreeze and ensure that it can protect the system at anticipated temperatures.
Winter Maintenance for Dry Systems
Here are the steps to winterize your dry system:
- Maintain building heat at the dry valve: Keep the dry valve and water entrance always heated above 40 degrees (F).
- Monitor low-temperature alarms: Install low-temperature alarms that will notify you if the temperature drops too low. This allows for quick action to prevent any potential damage.
- Check low point drains: Ensure that low point drains, used for removing condensation, are clear and functioning properly.
- Inspect auxiliary drains: Auxiliary drains should also be inspected regularly to prevent any blockages or issues with water flow.
Don’t leave it to chance – take proactive steps to protect your property from cold temperatures this winter. Give us a call at 802-655-1800, and we’ll send a professional your way!