Performing Routine Spring Maintenance on Your Fire Sprinkler System

Close up image of fire sprinkler on white. Fire sprinklers are part of an integrated water piping system

Spring cleaning is a popular concept for the home, but what about in the office? Spring maintenance is a great way to keep certain key systems and machinery ready in case of emergency. You don’t want to find out during a fire that your alarm system or sprinkler is not working correctly.

When it comes to sprinkler maintenance, spring is the right time to identify and solve any issues that may have cropped up over the winter.

Check Your Smoke Detectors

You should test every smoke detector throughout the building more than just once a year. So, this is a great task to add to your spring to-do list for sprinkler maintenance. This will include CO2 detectors and could even include other alarms in your building. If they don’t catch the signs of fire, your sprinkler system will have no chance of working.

Look Over the Sprinkler Heads

Do a visual check of your sprinkler heads. Obvious things, like having them blocked or having anything hanging from them, should immediately be changed. Note any heads that look visibly damage or have been covered with something, like paint, dust or other contaminants. You will want to bring up all damaged heads to your expert when they do an inspection.

Have an Expert Inspection Done on Your Sprinkler System

Hire an expert to help you make sure the system is in good working order. During the winter, there is a possibility that the heads and sprinkler piping could freeze over. The spring is a good time to look everything over and adjust things as needed.

Repair or Replace Faulty Heads

Making the necessary changes can be a pain, but it’s crucial for keeping the building safe and protected. You don’t want a faulty sprinkler head if you can help it! Repair or replace damaged and old sprinkler heads before they become a problem, and you will save thousands of dollars.

Have a Sprinkler Shut Off Tool Readily Available

There are times when a sprinkler head fails, even after passing inspection. While a sprinkler head not turning on in the case of a fire is bad, a sprinkler head not turning off can be a huge problem too. A faulty head that comes on without warning or won’t turn off can do a lot of unnecessary water damage to the space.

A single sprinkler releases 60 gallons of water per minute.

Heads can fail without warning, even if you are getting regular inspections. A sprinkler shut off tool on every floor will allow you to quickly turn off the sprinkler head if there is ever a need. Just like any other emergency tool, this item should be readily available and people within the building should know where they are at and how to work them. This can save thousands of dollars in property loss if something goes wrong.

If you don’t have the right tools on hand to instantly shut off a faulty sprinkler head, we can help. The Shutgun is the world’s leading sprinkler shut-off tool and can turn off sprinkler heads within seconds. Get yours today!

Important Fire Sprinkler Requirements For Commercial Buildings

Employees, customers, and visitors count on business owners to do their due diligence when it comes to safety. To prevent serious injuries, sprinkler systems can go a long way to protecting everyone under your proverbial umbrella. These tools can also save expensive equipment, preserve critical documents, and keep merchandise intact. Yet it’s important to consider the potential ramifications of these systems — particularly if they’re accidentally tripped. Learn more about the codes, and how a sprinkler stopper can be a wise investment for your business.

NFPA 13

This is the official national standard for the installation of sprinkler systems, and the most widely used guidelines. You’ll still need to check with local regulators to learn more about specific codes in your area, but this is a good place to start.

Here are a few highlights from NFPA 13:

  • Any building higher than 55 feet will need to install an automatic sprinkler system.
  • Fire pumps are recommended to improve the pressure of the sprinkler system (if working with a non-pressurized water tank or an insufficient municipal system).
  • Water supply control valves need to be easily accessible.

Fire Area

A fire area is defined as a floor area that is bound by fire barriers. You can generally think of this as the total area of the space. New commercial buildings with a fire area of more than 5,000 square feet are required to have automatic sprinkler systems. This includes buildings that have been newly renovated to expand past the 5,000 limit. The same rule applies to a single-tenant expansion that increases a fire area beyond 12,000 square feet.

When it comes to fire areas in commercial buildings, owners need to be aware of the kind of property they own. We tend to think of these as office and retail spaces, but they can also apply to certain kinds of homes. For instance, a townhome that contains more than two units per building will need a sprinkler system.

Sprinkler Systems

The objective of a sprinkler system is to detect heat and immediately provide water to either mitigate the fire or eliminate it entirely. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for fires to ramp up before the water reaches them. This is why pumps are highly recommended in certain cases. A weak stream of water will do little to extinguish roaring flames. Early suppression means more people can safely exit the building and give firefighters more access to any stubborn parts of the fire.

Protecting Your Business with a Sprinkler Stopper

Under NFPA 13, your sprinkler system has to provide maximum coverage. This is great when there’s a real fire but devastating if you have any kind of unintentional activation. Instead of dealing with thousands of dollars worth of damage for no real safety benefit whatsoever, spending $60 on a sprinkler stopper like a Shutgun is a more cost-effective solution. Easy to use and typically stored with the fire extinguisher, it just takes one hand to stop water damage in its tracks.

Top Causes of Fire Sprinkler Leaks

Did you know that fire sprinkler heads cause an average of $35,000 in damage when activated? Many Canadians learn this the hard way after someone in their building accidentally activates a sprinkler head, and they can do nothing but watch helplessly as they wait for the fire department to arrive. Our sprinkler head shutoff tool allows home and business owners to turn a sprinkler head off within seconds. Before we describe how it works, we think it is important to understand the main causes of water leaking from the fire sprinkler head.

Damage to Heads and Pipes of Sprinkler Head

Sprinkler heads can sustain damage when forklifts, ladders, or other types of construction equipment strike them while workers complete a project. Unfortunately, vandalism is a leading cause of sprinkler head damage as well. The best way to protect your sprinkler head from accidental or intentional damage is to surround it with protective netting.

Fire Sprinkler Equipment Failure

Fire sprinkler manufacturers produced approximately 35 million defective O-rings more than 20 years ago, some of which still remain in Canadian businesses. With exposure to water contaminants, the O-ring on a fire sprinkler can leak and corrode. Sprinkler heads not prepared or installed properly can also develop problems with leaking. Improper manufacturing of the sprinkler head itself contributes to this issue as well.

Sprinkler Head Corrosion

Your sprinkler head may corrode over time due to moisture exposure or a lack of oxygen. Here are the most common indications of sprinkler head corrosion.

  • Discolored water
  • Foul odor similar to a rotten egg
  • Obstruction somewhere on the sprinkler head
  • Rusting

If you notice these signs, it could be a warning that you will soon start seeing water leaking from the fire sprinkler head. You may want to contact a fire safety inspector to determine the exact cause of the leak.

When Sprinkler Heads Freeze

Heating system failure is a leading cause of sprinkler heads freezing, but this can also occur for several other reasons. Placing a sprinkler head too close to a window can cause it to freeze and leak from the cold exposure. Be sure to remind everyone in the building to close all windows at the end of the day. You may also want to complete a walk-through to make sure that no one forgot and make sure that all closed windows have a tight seal.

What is a Sprinkler Head Shutoff Tool?

Shutgun offers a tool that allows firefighters and maintenance personnel to turn off an activated sprinkler head using only one hand. The one-hand feature improves your safety when you use Shutgun while standing on a ladder. Shutgun has a fusible link that releases at a temperature of 73 degrees Celsius or 164 degrees Fahrenheit. If a fire does break out, Shutgun ensures that the building remains protected while awaiting assistance from the fire department. We recommend placing a Shutgun sprinkler head shutoff tool near every fire extinguisher in your building for easy access in case of accidental activation of a sprinkler head.Feel free to contact us with additional questions or to order Shutgun for your facility.

How to Disable a Fire Sprinkler Head

Emergency sprinkler head emergency water stopper

Fire sprinkler heads are invaluable because they’re designed to quickly shower a room with water in the unexpected (and unfortunate) event of a fire. But at the same time, irresponsible use of these sprinkler heads could render the entire system ineffective for the one job it was expressly designed to do. At that point, it’s more than just a minor inconvenience – lives are literally at risk. That, in essence, is why a sprinkler shut off tool is so important.

You can’t expect every last person in a business to know exactly where the fire sprinkler room is. Even if they do, they probably don’t know how to find the right value to shut off the sprinkler head in question. The room itself may be locked – leading to a situation where time is being wasted when every moment counts.

But thankfully, a sprinkler shut off tool is a lot easier to use than most think. You just need to keep a few key things in mind along the way.

Using a Sprinkler Shut Off Tool: Breaking Things Down

The most important thing to understand about these types of tools is that most – including the Shutgun – work with a wide variety of activated sprinklers that you may find in a place like an office. This includes but is not limited to not only semi-recessed sprinkler heads, but also pendent heads, horizontal sidewall heads and upright heads, to name a few.

To disable your fire sprinkler head, first insert the adjustable jaws of your shut off tool into the frame of the head that has been activated for whatever reason. As you do so, take care to make sure that the rubber pad of the tool engages with the orifice in a full and secure way.

At that point, all you have to do is pump the trigger on the shut off tool until the water stops flowing out of the head. Then, you can engage the proper employees to get into the fire sprinkler room to shut the system down in a more appropriate manner.

If you’re using something like a concealed head shut off tool, the process will be slightly different. Here, you’ll need to insert the probe on your tool into the head of the sprinkler at an angle. Then, rotate the tool so that the pressure jaw is positioned inside the head’s diffuser arms. The probe itself should be pointing towards the orifice of the sprinkler and the pistons should be parallel to the diffuser arms.

So long as the pressure jaw has engaged the diffuser, you can then pump the trigger so that the probe enters the sprinkler head. Continue to pump the trigger until the water stops flowing. If you’d like to find out more information about how to disable a fire sprinkler head using a sprinkler shut off tool, or if you’d just like to discuss your own needs with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.

Sprinkler Pipe Leaks Due to a Freeze

a close-up picture of frozen outdoor faucet

Although they can be readily stopped by a high-quality sprinkler stopper, it’s best to stop sprinkler pipe leaks before they start. And the best way to prevent sprinkler pipe leaks this winter is to protect pipes against freezing.

In addition to surrounding sprinkler system pipes with appropriate exterior insulation, you should follow the advice of wise building owners everywhere by diligently draining pipes of water before any hard freeze. Furthermore, you must regularly check pipes for cracks and leaks, addressing all damage in a timely fashion with appropriate repair procedures. For more information on ways to avoid pipe freeze damage and repair issues as they arise, check out the expert advice of the Pulitzer Prize-winning news and information website SFGATE.

How Frozen Pipes Can Lead to Sprinkler Pipe Leaks 

Simply put, subfreezing temperatures place uninsulated and poorly maintained sprinkler pipes at considerable risk. Within the rigid confines of a pipe, water simply has nowhere to go as it turns to ice, expanding significantly while doing so. While this expansion generally won’t cause a break in the sold surface of the pipe itself, it will readily lead to damaged joints and intersections, stretching them apart and making them spring free-flowing leaks

While underground sprinkler piping benefits from the natural insulation of subterranean soil, piping and valves positioned above ground are extremely susceptible to freezing. This creates considerable issues for fire system sprinkler systems, which generally require a significant amount of above-ground infrastructure.

Special Considerations for Fire Sprinkler Systems 

In addition to subjecting all pipes to regular maintenance and repair, the fire sprinkler stopper company Shutgun recommends taking preventative measures in high-risk areas such as corridors and stairways. If these areas are not consistently and reliably well heated, the pipes within them must be adequately insulated. Shutgun also identifies freezing pipes as one of the most common reasons that a fire sprinkler system will activate.

Address Pipe Leaks with a Quality Sprinkler Stopper

Within a few minutes of fire sprinkler activation, you can suffer water damage that may cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. While preventative pipe-freezing measures are an absolute must, a high-quality sprinkler stopper is essential when the unthinkable happens.

Built to be compatible with fire sprinkler systems around the globe, the Shutgun family of fire sprinkler shut off devices can stop water flow from virtually any fire sprinkler in a matter of seconds. These devices even work on sprinkler heads that are concealed and semi-recessed as well as those that have been broken or sheared. Extremely safe and easy to use, Shutgun products allow a single person to shut off just about any active sprinkler head using only a single hand.

For More Information

If your building isn’t protected by quality sprinkler stopper equipment, you may be placing your property at significant and unnecessary risk. To find out more about how to protect your building from frozen pipes and other common problems, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Shutgun representative today.

Shoot us a note or give us a call! 1-866-827-8711

Do Fire Sprinkler Heads Expire?

Fire sprinkler and red pipe on white ceiling background

Fire sprinkler heads play a crucial role in stopping the spread of fires inside buildings. However, they need to be in good condition in order to do this. It’s important to know whether or not fire sprinkler heads expire and when they should be replaced. Keep in mind that having a sprinkler head shutoff tool offers a handy way to turn off older or malfunctioning sprinkler heads that come on when no fire is present.

Importance of Having Reliable Sprinkler Heads

Fire sprinkler heads are designed to last for several decades. However, they are subject to develop wear and tear over the years. These sprinkler heads can also become damaged, causing them to work ineffectively. For example, they might turn on when there’s no fire or smoke around. This can lead to water damage, mold problems, and other damage unless you’re able to turn them off immediately with a fire sprinkler head shutoff tool.

Wear and tear or damage could also make it harder for fire sprinkler heads to work properly and come on when there is smoke or fire. Having unreliable sprinkler heads puts your tenants and building at serious risk of injuries and major damage. While sprinkler heads might not have a specific expiration date, you should consider their age and condition, especially if they have not been maintained regularly.

Fire Sprinkler Head Age and Condition

You might not be able to tell if your fire sprinkler heads should be replaced just by looking at them. In some cases, damage isn’t evident, but it can be present. For example, interior components of sprinkler heads can have damage that prevents them from working properly. In other cases, visible signs of damage or wear and tear are easy to notice. Fire sprinkler heads that have corrosion or rust, for example, should be inspected and replaced as needed. Sprinkler heads that have noticeable damage should also be repaired or replaced.

You should try to find out the age of your fire sprinkler heads as well. Knowing how old they are can help you determine when to have them tested. You might also be able to tell if it’s time to replace them based on their age and overall condition

When to Test Fire Sprinkler Heads

How often you should test the fire sprinkler heads in your building depends in part on their type. Extra high sprinkler heads should have tests done every five years, while dry pendent sprinkler heads should have tests done every 10 years. Quick response sprinkler heads need an initial test done 20 years after installation followed by tests every 10 years after that. Standard sprinkler heads should have an initial test done 50 years after installation followed by tests every 10 years after that.

Contact Us for Fire Sprinkler Head Shutoff Tool Details

If you’re looking into getting a fire sprinkler head shutoff tool for your building, please contact Shutgun today. These dependable tools can ensure that you’re able to turn off fire sprinklers right away as needed.

Shoot us a note or give us a call! 1-866-827-8711

Winterizing your sprinkler systems and what happens if you don’t

A close up shot of a burst sprinkler pipe

Sprinkler systems help millions of homes in Canada and the United States enjoy a lush and healthy lawn. These irrigation systems are a vital component in helping you achieve a visually-appeal and green lawn, but they aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. A sprinkler stopper helps mitigate a range of issues. 

Like any other system in your home, your sprinklers need regular maintenance in order to perform their best. Winterizing your sprinkler system is a step that you need to take or you could experience anything from a small inconvenience to a major disaster.

What Might Happen if You Don’t Winterize Your Sprinkler System

While the severity of winter varies depending on the area of the country you’re in, even a single freezing incident can cause issues for your sprinkler system because of the water that’s left behind.

  • broken sprinkler heads

Water that freezes in the sprinkler heads can easily break them. Unfortunately, you probably won’t know about it until you turn on your sprinkler system in the spring and experience the deluge of water everywhere.

  • cracked fittings and pipes

Similar to above, water that is left in the pipes all winter often freezes. This can expand the fittings and the pipes resulting in cracks.

  • busted backflow devices and valves

Ice that results from water that freezes in the sprinkler system can damage the valves and backflow devices. The damage could be so severe that it is unable to be repaired. You might need to replace these parts before you can use your sprinkler system in the spring.

Interested in learning more about Shutgun and our available products? Send us your questions and we’ll get back to you right away!







    Preventing Sprinkler System Damage with a Sprinkler Stopper

    For the best results, you should plan to winterize your sprinkler system before the freezing temperatures occur on a regular basis at night. However, even if the temperatures are already dipping, it’s not too late to take action.

    First, turn off all the water to the sprinkler system as well as the power. Once you complete this step, remove any of the devices that you have to monitor your sprinkler system.

    Drain the valves of water if your system has them installed. Otherwise drain the water from the pumps and pipes.

    A sprinkler stopper can help prevent damage to your sprinkler system by shutting off the water to it. This small tool can be kept in your toolbox so it’s at the ready when you start your winter maintenance.

    Taking a few minutes to winterize your sprinkler system properly can potentially save you money, frustration, and headaches in the spring. Using a high-quality sprinkler stopper is a quick and easy way to do so.

    Shutgun is a family of sprinkler stopper tools that has been UL tested. Learn more about how they can make your winterization easier by contacting them today.

    Can You Turn Off A Fire Sprinkler System?

    Shutgun attached to the training and demonstration unit

    Fire sprinkler systems provide a valuable service when there’s a fire in your home or building. These systems help stop fires from spreading and limit damage from smoke and flames. However, these systems can also lead to water damage if they accidentally go off due to damage or a malfunction. It’s important to know how to turn off a fire sprinkler system in order to prevent severe damage. Find out how to get these systems to stop running, including with the use of a sprinkler head shutoff tool.

    What Activates Fire Sprinkler Systems?

    Temperatures that are hot enough due to a fire will trigger a fire sprinkler system. However, other conditions can also cause sprinkler heads to activate. They might do so if the sprinklers are too close to heat sources, such as heaters, or if the pipes connected to them freeze and burst in cold weather. Fire sprinkler systems can also activate due to mechanical damage, such as having loose components or missing parts.

    Turning Off the Entire System

    One option you have is to turn off the entire system by cutting off the water supply. In a residential building, this might mean finding and turning off the main water control valve. This stops water from flowing into your home entirely, not just the sprinkler system. If you have a fire sprinkler system with a shutoff valve on the pipe that brings water to this system, you can turn off this valve. Doing so should stop water from flowing out of the sprinkler heads without shutting water off to other areas of your home.

    Turning Off Individual Sprinkler Heads

    Having the ability to quickly turn off an individual sprinkler head can come in handy, especially in larger commercial buildings where it might take too long to locate the main water control valve. In certain buildings, it might be unsafe to shut off the entire water supply at once. With a sprinkler head shutoff tool, you can easily turn off a sprinkler that has been triggered. This provides you with a fast and convenient way to shut off fire sprinkler system heads without having to worry about turning off the water supply for the whole building. Being able to immediately turn off a sprinkler head helps reduce the risk of significant water damage in that part of the building.

    Preventing Accidental Activation

    Having your fire sprinkler system routinely inspected and maintained can help lower the risk of it activating by accident. These routine inspections help ensure that your sprinkler system is in good condition and functions properly. Keep in mind that having a sprinkler head shutoff tool available is still important even if you have routine inspections and maintenance.

    Contact Us for Sprinkler Head Shutoff Tool Information

    If you’re interested in learning more about how a sprinkler head shutoff tool works, please contact Shutgun today. We can provide you with detailed information on these tools and help you get one for your building.

    How Freezing and Thawing Affect Fire Sprinkler Systems

    Many people are familiar with the woes that come with frozen pipes during the winter months. When water freezes inside plumbing pipes it expands and solidifies, causing serious problems. Ice inside of a fire sprinkler system can be especially harmful, and may impact the safety of employees and customers. Ice blockages could hinder the life-saving abilities of a fire sprinkler system in the event of a fire, or break the pipes altogether. The breakage of fire sprinkler pipes from freezing water is called a freeze break in the fire safety industry. A sprinkler shut off tool can help alleviate the acute problem.

    Aside from the obvious reason frozen pipes are detrimental to a fire sprinkler system in a commercial building, there are also more subtle situations that can amount to great risk. Here are some things for companies to watch out for in regards to fire sprinkler systems.

    Gradual Impacts of the Integrity of the System

     Sometimes a sprinkler pipe doesn’t freeze completely. The water inside can freeze, thaw, and freeze again when exposed to low temperatures for longer periods. This phenomenon causes a vicious cycle that applies added stress to the pipe. Even if a pipe thaws out after a freezing event and appears fine, its integrity could be compromised. Hairline cracks could develop, causing leakage, and eventually break. Broken pipes in fire sprinkler systems can cause substantial flood damage to buildings and merchandise regardless of a fire. A sprinkler shut off tool can help in this type of situation to prevent further water damage.

    Problem Areas May be Hard to Find… And Costly to Repair

     Ice is less dense than water. When ice forms in fire sprinkler pipes, it adds pressure to the water leftover in the pipe. This increased pressure can cause water to burst the pipes in different places from the actual ice blockage site. Fire sprinkler damage from a freezing event can be subtle and difficult to locate. Added to that are the headaches of costly water damage repairs and inventory loss.

     Prevention is the best remedy for damage from frozen pipes. Fire sprinkler pipes in higher risk areas like hallways and stairs should be insulated or in a heated area. Periodic maintenance checks of the system are recommended in addition to required annual inspections by government authorities. In the case a fire sprinkler turns on for no apparent reason, a sprinkler shut off tool will help control the damage.

    Dry Systems are Also Affected

    Dry sprinkler systems are utilized in buildings located in areas where freezing conditions are likely to occur. While the pipes in these systems are not filled with water for most of the year, regular maintenance will still need to be performed to ensure they are dry and work properly in the event of a fire. Studies show that unattended pipes can build condensation and drain water over time inside the system, even after it is drained of water during a test.

    To mitigate this freezing risk, it is important to ensure that the nitrogen system is working properly. Dry system valves used in auxiliary test runs should also be kept in a dry, heated environment. When the system is operated, run the auxiliary drains each day until water no longer comes out of the pipes. Once this is achieved, perform the same test in weekly and then longer interval periods.

    What to Do if You Don’t Have a Sprinkler Shut Off Tool

    These essential tools are a quick and easy way for your maintenance staff to control water damage if a fire sprinkler turns on accidentally. Freezing pipes are one of the most common reasons a fire system sprinkler activates. If you don’t have these tools supplied, consider the cost-effective Shutgun. These handy devices are a toolbox staple for hotels, schools, contractors, building managers, hospitals, and more! Contact us today to help you as soon as possible.

    Cold Weather Preventative Maintenance for Fire Sprinklers

    Think about the hazards of a frozen water pipe for a moment. When water within the pipe freezes, there’s the potential for the pipe to expand and burst – and if it does, then you’re likely looking at expensive, messy water damage. Fire sprinkler systems are essentially networks of water pipes that exist in a building, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that they’re susceptible to similar issues during the cold weather months. But just like plumbing, you can prepare for and maintain these systems to prevent freezing in at-risk environments. And even so, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan – like a sprinkler head shutoff tool – just in case. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at cold weather preventative maintenance for fire sprinklers and how you can keep your system safe this winter. Here’s a look:

    Know Your Sprinklers

    The first step to preventative maintenance of your fire sprinklers is first understanding what type of system you have. When it comes to fire sprinklers, there are both wet and dry systems. Wet systems are those where the system’s pipes are filled with water so when it is triggered, water begins spraying immediately. Think of it similar to turning on a faucet or hose spigot. While wet systems are more common in indoor environments, dry systems are more likely to be found in parking garages and warehouses where temperatures are more likely to dip. With dry sprinkler systems, the pipes are filled with pressurized air that holds water back. When activated, the air releases and permits water to flow.

    Don’t Winterize, Maintain

    Unlike a hose spigot, you can’t winterize fire sprinklers because you need them on standby and ready to protect your property if a threat is detected. While wet systems aren’t likely to freeze, dry systems are. That’s because condensation and moisture can build up in the water lines. It’s suggested to have these lines drained and dried prior to the cold weather months. For wet systems, just be sure that the building’s heating system is working and able to adequately warm areas where there are pipes.

    Have Them Inspected

    An annual fire sprinkler inspection should become a part of your maintenance schedule. An inspection will involve overlooking every part of the sprinkler system to ensure that it’s operating properly and address issues before they have a chance to become major problems. Inspections can also help assess if sprinkler systems are at risk during cold weather months.

    Prepare for the Worst

    Even if you’re adamant about maintaining your facility’s fire sprinkler system, it’s still a good idea to always be prepared for the worst. And whether it’s an accidental activation or a burst pipe that triggers the system, failure to quickly deactivate your fire sprinklers can result in thousands of gallons of wasted water and extensive water damage. That’s where a sprinkler head shutoff tool can come in handy. Rather than wait for the fire department to arrive, you can quickly and easily deactivate the system to prevent water loss and property damage.