How Do Fire Sprinklers Function?

Emergency sprinkler head water stopper

Fire sprinklers are essential safety tools in residential and commercial buildings, and they are not all that complicated. It’s important to understand how they work and when you need a sprinkler stopper.

As helpful as these sprinklers are if a fire should occur, they also can cause considerable damage when they go off. What should you know about the very important fire sprinkler?

How Do Fire Sprinkler Systems Work?

Despite their importance, you still primarily see fire sprinkler systems in larger buildings, although they are becoming more common in homes, as well. According to Firefighting Canada, a home sprinkler system can reduce the risk of death by 79 percent.

A fire sprinkler system includes a network of pipes, built into walls, and ceiling. The pipes hold water under pressure that releases if triggered by heat. When a fire occurs, flames can cause the air temperature to rise. The sprinkler activates when the temperature reaches a certain level.

The sprinkler sprays water over nearby flames, either totally extinguishing them or, in most situations, reducing the heat and minimizing the buildup of harmful smoke until the fire service arrives.

Sprinklers are so successful because they are so quick to react. They lessen the danger of death or injury from fire by drastically reducing heat, flames, and smoke, giving people enough time to flee their homes. Home fire sprinklers can release 10 to 25 gallons of water every minute. Without the water from the sprinkler, the fire can spread and become deadly very quickly.

What Detects the Heat?

Attached to the water pipes is a sprinkler head that hangs down from the ceiling. The majority of sprinkler heads have a glass bulb filled with a glycerin-based liquid. When this liquid comes into contact with air at between 135 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it expands. When the liquid swells, it shatters the glass boundaries and triggers the sprinkler head.

When Might You Need a Sprinkler Stopper?

Obviously, that much water can do a lot of damage, especially if triggered unnecessarily. In most cases, you have the option to turn off the whole system by turning off the water supply.

It can also be helpful to have a tool able to turn off individual sprinkler heads, especially in big buildings where it is difficult to find the water shut-off. Having a sprinkler stopper handy can mean only minor water damage in critical areas of the building.

A sprinkler stopper can also allow you to turn off the sprinkler heads, so water doesn’t continue to fall after the fire is out. It can take some time for the fire department to get to you and, without a way to disengage the sprinklers, the water will do more damage than the fire.

Find out more about sprinkler stoppers and how to use our Shutguns.

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