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.

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.

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.

What is the Difference Between Pendant Sprinkler Heads and Concealed Sprinkler Heads?

Understanding how fire sprinkler heads work and the differences between them helps people make informed decisions about the type of sprinklers they want in their commercial and residential buildings. We all expect fire sprinklers to be there if there is a fire, but what happens when they activate under a false alarm? It happens. Most people must wait for the fire department to arrive, assess the situation, and then turn off the sprinkler system. That’s a lot of water and a lot of water damage. Some sprinklers you can turn off yourself with a simple tool called a Sprinkler Stopper. Doing so limits the amount of water damage that occurs. All of these little facts begin to illustrate why the differences in sprinkler heads are so significant. Keep reading as we go through the differences between pendant styled sprinklers and concealed sprinkler heads.

The Pendant Style Sprinkler Head

Pendent sprinkler heads sit out in the open. You’ve probably seen them all over the place when you shop at big box stores. Like a pendant on a necklace, pendent sprinklers face down from the bottom of the pipe.

They consist of:

  • The orifice, which is the opening that connects to the water pipe,
  • The plug
  • A sealed liquid-filled glass tube
  • The frame
  • The deflector.

The orifice is what connects the sprinkler head to the pipe. The plug holds back the water until the liquid-filled glass tube breaks, and then the water flows out and down, where the deflector spreads the water around the space. The frame holds all of these pieces together.

The glass-filled tube breaks as the heat rises (about 136 degrees Fahrenheit,) the liquid expands, and the glass shatters. That action drops the plug, which frees the water. There are two levels of glass tubes for pendent sprinkler heads – a 3mm and a 5mm. The 5mm is standard equipment, while the 3mm is for rapid response environments. Generally, the 5mm glass tube activates when the temperature reaches 136 degrees Fahrenheit. Not all sprinklers go off at once, though that is a common misconception.

When to Use the Sprinkler Stopper

In case of a false alarm, or when the sprinklers activate, and there is no fire, use the Sprinkler Stopper. Most sprinklers discharge about 60-gallons of water per minute. It is the best tool to stop water and water damage quickly.

Parts of a Concealed Sprinkler Head

Concealed Sprinklers and pendent sprinklers are similar. They differ because the concealed sprinkler sits in special holes in the ceiling and has a few extra parts. The cup holds the sprinkler to the pipe, while a cover conceals the unit. A cover on the bottom of the sprinkler hides it from view. Inside is the glass-filled tube that, when removed, activates the water.

As the heat from a fire rises, the cover over the concealed sprinkler is the first thing that drops. Then the heat has direct access to the liquid-filled glass tube. On some models, the pendant portion of the concealed sprinkler falls when the cover does. On other models, it remains compressed until the glass tube breaks. When the glass tube breaks, the water is released. Accidental activation is the most common cause of releasing water from a sprinkler system.

Like on the Pendent sprinkler head, you can use the Sprinkler Stopper tool to stop water flow if there is a false activation.

Which type of Sprinkler Head is Right for Your Building?

It comes down to aesthetics. You find concealed sprinkler heads in high-profile buildings, homes, and office buildings where an exposed sprinkler might not fit the decor. You find Pendent sprinklers installed in commercial settings, warehouses, and distribution bays.

What Can You do to Stop a Broken Sprinkler Head?

If you don’t have a sprinkler stopper, then a broken sprinkler head can quickly become a disaster. For every minute that a sprinkler head is left on, 60 gallons will be pumped into your space. If a sprinkler head is accidentally activated, you might wait 20 minutes for the fire department to come and fix the issue. On average, fire sprinklers cause around $35k in water damage. In order to lessen the damage, you should know how to stop a broken sprinkler head as quickly as possible.

Establish Your Plan for a Broken Sprinkler

The majority (90%) of sprinkler activations are accidental, so an emergency plan is the best way to avoid damage. The sprinkler is a common threat in most commercial spaces, so having a plan of action is the best way to avoid unnecessary expense.

  • Know your sprinkler system and get familiar with the water shut-off procedures.
  • Designate employees in charge of water shut-off in case of accidental activation.
  • Implement training through a sprinkler technician to teach those selected employees how to handle a broken sprinkler.
  • Post a clear contact list in an accessible place, including direct numbers for the nearest fire department, senior company management and your fire alarm company.
  • Get a sprinkler stopper to stop the water quickly without deactivating the entire system.

Keep Your System Maintained

In the case of a fire, your sprinkler system will reduce damage by using less water than a fire hose and stopping the fire damage as early as possible. So, it’s important to keep this system in place and ready for action. Your sprinkler system might be a life-saver in the event of a fire, but a huge pain in your expense sheet if it goes off without cause.

Most sprinkler activations are set off when the plug breaks from age, stress or bumping. This might occur during a move or renovation. The best way to avoid accidental activation in the first place is by keeping the system in good standing.

  • Have your fire sprinkler inspected by experts regularly to ensure things are up to date.
  • Find a company you trust to perform maintenance checks without fabricating unnecessary updates and repairs.
  • Make the recommended repairs as quickly as possible.

Always use your system correctly and never hang anything from the sprinkler heads. This might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at the decorations, streamers and even clothing that sometimes gets hung from sprinkler heads. Don’t paint over the sprinkler heads, and take special care not to bump them if you are moving large or tall items.

Install a Sprinkler Stopper

Developed by a former fire chief, Shutgun is the sprinkler shut-off tool that fits nearly any fire sprinkler system. It will even work on sheared, broken, concealed or semi-recessed sprinkler heads. As the top-selling sprinkler stopper in the world, Shutgun is a patented design that could save you thousands in the event of an accidental sprinkler activation. Have one on hand as part of a plan for stopping a broken sprinkler head.

What Do You Do If Your Sprinkler Won’t Shut Off?

According to one recent study, quick response fire sprinklers can release between eight and 24 gallons of water per minute when activated. Obviously, this is a good thing if an actual fire is present – but when you also consider the fact that approximately 90% of all sprinkler activations are accidental, you begin to get an idea of how this can go from a mild inconvenience to a major disaster so quickly.

But thankfully, all hope is not lost. If your sprinkler system is activated and you can’t seem to get it to shut off, there are a number of options available to you to prevent long-term damage. You just need to keep a few key things in mind.

Shutting Down Your Sprinkler: What You Need to Know

In the event that your sprinkler suddenly won’t shut off for whatever reason, the first thing you need to do is locate your shut-off valve. This will allow you to cut the water to the sprinkler without actually turning off the water in your entire home. Trace your sprinkler system back to its source and turn the shut-off valve clockwise to stop the water flow to the sprinkler head in question.

Note that depending on the age of your system, you may be dealing with a backflow prevention device with its own unique type of ball valve. This, too, can be used to cut off the water in the event of an emergency. When the ball valve is open, it should be parallel to the water pipe it is attached to. Turn the handle clockwise to stop the flow of water at this point.

Once the water is off, you can safely determine the cause of the issue and take any maintenance steps that may be necessary.

The Importance of Having a Quality Fire Sprinkler Shut Off Tool

When dealing with a fire sprinkler system, in particular, it’s also important to know that there are tools you can purchase to help cut the water to malfunctioning heads or even to entire zones as quickly as possible to avoid damage. Our fire sprinkler shut off tool the Shutgun is one such example, allowing you to shut off an activated fire sprinkler in a matter of seconds.

It’s compatible with not only pendant fire sprinkler heads but also upright heads, wall-mounted heads, semi-recessed heads, and more. It offers convenient, one-hand operation (allowing it to be used safely from a ladder) and simply having one within reach BEFORE you need it could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in water damage, all while making sure that your environment still remains protected in the event of a fire.

If you’d like to find out more about the important steps you’ll need to take if your sprinkler won’t shut off, or if you’d like to learn more about our innovative fire sprinkler shut off tool that is trusted by homeowners around the world, please don’t delay – contact Shutgun today.

4 Reasons Fire Sprinklers Fail

Fire sprinklers are meant to be used as a safety feature that helps prevent fires from spreading. Although they are important life-saving features, they can end up being activated when there are no fires present. This can result in a significant amount of damage that can cost property owners thousands of dollars or more. Learn more about why fire sprinklers might fail, and consider investing in a fire sprinkler shut off tool to help protect your property from damage. 

Defective Sprinkler System

A fire sprinkler system that has a defective component or damage to any part of it can fail. This is one of the least likely causes of fire sprinkler failure, though, since these systems are generally dependable when they’re installed correctly and regularly inspected. Fires are among the most common causes of damage to sprinkler systems. If your building has had a fire, it’s important to have your fire sprinkler system thoroughly inspected. This can help lower the risk of having fire sprinklers going off at other times when there isn’t a fire.

Hazards Involving the Sprinkler System

In some cases, defects or changes to areas that involve or affect sprinkler systems can cause them to activate when there are no fires around. For example, any changes that affect the way water is distributed in the building might cause a fire sprinkler system to go off on its own. Problems with the way the building was constructed and issues involving passive fire protection can also lead to fire sprinkler system failures. Setting up fire barriers and firewalls can help improve a fire sprinkler system’s reliability. A fire sprinkler shut off tool can help if these systems activate without a fire present in the area.

Inadequate Fire Sprinkler System

Fire sprinkler systems must be adequate enough to provide protection based on the building’s contents. Regular hazards typically don’t require the same amount of adequacy as high hazard materials or contents. If the type of contents being stored changes over time or if other changes create situations where the building has higher hazards, the fire sprinkler system should also be updated or upgraded as needed. Failing to do so can cause problems with the fire sprinkler system’s ability to operate properly.

Problems with the Water Supply and Maintenance

Issues with the water supply system, such as valves being damaged or improperly installed, can have a big impact on a fire sprinkler system’s operation. For example, maintenance on the building’s water supply might involve closing off valves in some areas. Problems with water pressure in other areas could also affect the fire sprinkler system’s ability to work as intended. Keep in mind that routine inspections and maintenance on the fire sprinkler system are an important part of ensuring that they’re able to operate properly. Not doing so can cause part of the system to fail when it should be working or become activated when there are no fires in the area.

If you’re looking for a dependable fire sprinkler shut off tool for your building, please contact Shutgun to learn more about our products. Shutgun is designed to shut off fire sprinklers immediately if they’re activated for reasons other than fire.

Water Damage Restoration Cost

Water damage is one of the sneakier types of destruction that can happen to a property. It doesn’t take much to cause a world of financial trouble. Restoring water damage means first extracting the water, performing a thorough cleanup, and fixing any structural issues that were left behind. It’s why a sprinkler head shut off tool can save you thousands of dollars (and migraines). The best way to avoid water damage is to take as many precautions as possible.

A Wide Range

The average cost for water damage is around $3,000 for an average-sized home. A six-bedroom mini-mansion with a built-in sprinkler system could cost far more, while a tiny patch of damage in a basement might cost far less. In general, though, standard drywall damage and the repainting of the affected areas will generally run several thousand dollars. We’ll look at the cost break-downs per room for a better idea of the individual costs.

Roof

Water damage to a roof doesn’t just affect the exterior shingles, but also the flashing and potentially even the ventilation. Expect to pay about $6 for every shingle for a 500 sq. ft roof. As an aside, this is a good reason to get your roof inspected regularly as the damage likely can’t be seen from the ground.

Kitchen

The drywall in a kitchen generally costs around $55 for each sheet. If it’s a plaster wall, you’re likely to pay around $60 per-square-foot. Linoleum or vinyl floors will be about $1,000 for every 200 square feet of damage. Given the number of pipes in the kitchen, it’s especially important to protect the walls and floors from potential water damage.

Bathroom

One of the biggest costs that you’ll come across for a bathroom leak is for the damage it does to the ceiling. If it seeps through the second floor to the ground floor, you’re going to pay around $250 for each 10’x10′ area. A gray water leak that is contained in the bathroom will typically cost the national average of $3,000.

Laundry Room

The biggest expense in the laundry room is always going to be the washer and dryer. Replacing these will cost $3,000 alone, and you’ll also have to account for potential structural damage or electrical system malfunction.

Basements

Basements can have water damage for years without anyone realizing, resulting in anything from deterioration to mold. Mold removal can cost around $1,500 for professional removal, which is highly recommended for unventilated areas.

A Better Solution: Purchase a Sprinkler Head Shut Off Tool

Water damage can affect everything around the home, including your doors and windows. The above are just some expenses that might result from water that went rogue. One way to prevent this from occurring is to have the right sprinkler head shut off tool that can be operated with just one hand. For $60, a Shutgun can be stored near your fire extinguisher as a simple solution to cut off the water at the source.