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.