How Do Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems Work?

fire sprinkler system

While fire sprinkler systems are common in all commercial and public buildings, they are far less common in residential homes. Given how effective fire sprinkler systems are at saving lives and protecting property, you might wonder why they are rarely code-mandated for houses and small apartment buildings.

The truth is residential fire sprinkler systems are becoming more common in residential buildings, especially in newly built homes, condominiums, and apartments.

If you are one of the many homeowners considering installing one of these life-saving and property-protecting investments in your home, we are here to explain how they work!

Not only will we explain how home fire sprinkler systems work, but we will also go over why installing one can be one of the most important decisions you ever make.

Why Install a Residential Fire Sprinkler System?

Fire sprinkler systems are often legal requirements in commercial buildings and most large-scale public buildings, like schools, recreation centers, and government offices.

Considering that modern fire sprinkler systems have been shown to reduce deaths and property damage by more than 65 percent, it makes sense that most building codes would require them.

So, Why Aren’t Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems Standard?

Given the effectiveness of these fire sprinkler systems, the question remains, why are they less common in residential buildings? Real estate developers and home builders have been the most vocal opponents to the widespread installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems in houses and other residential buildings.

Most claim that installing a fire protection system would drive up the price of new homes, so it should be a personal choice made by the homeowner. There is also the argument that installing these systems would be time-consuming and delay the completion of much-needed homes.

Since fire sprinkler systems can cause significant property damage if they are accidentally activated, there is also the argument that it should be up to the homeowner if they want to take on that risk.

Why Should You Install One in Your Home?

The arguments for a residential fire sprinkler system are the same as those for a commercial version of these fire suppression systems. They can save your home from burning down and save lives if a house fire starts while the homeowners are sleeping.

Certain regions are even introducing legislation and building codes that demand home fire sprinkler systems in newly constructed homes and remodels.

working sprinkler system

How Do Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems Work?

Now that you understand the arguments for and against residential fire sprinklers, we can explain in a step-by-step way how they work.

Phase 1 – The Fire Sprinklers Detect Abnormal Heat

While many believe that smoke triggers fire sprinkler systems, it is actually the heat that does. Most sprinkler systems use a glass bulb filled with a highly expandable glycerin-based liquid. When the liquid comes in contact with heated air, it expands and shatters the glass. This triggers the sprinkler to release water.

If you have ever burnt food in your kitchen, you know how easy it is to trigger a smoke alarm accidentally. While this can be annoying, it is more of an inconvenience than an issue that would have severe consequences. Since a misfiring home sprinkler system could destroy your property and cause severe water damage, they must use heat rather than smoke as the trigger.

Phase 2 – The Fire Sprinkler Activates

Once the sprinkler trigger mechanism has detected air temperatures from 135° F to 165° F, the sprinklers begin releasing water. The water is supplied by a reliable source outside of the building, so damage caused by the fire will not deactivate the home fire sprinklers, especially during this early stage of the fire.

A valve is forced open when activated, releasing pressurized water from the sprinkler head. Since the water is pressurized, it sprays outwards from the automatic fire sprinkler heads in all directions, allowing it to extinguish flames anywhere in the room.

Phase 3 – The Fire Sprinkler Continues to Operate Until it Is Deactivated

Another common misconception about fire sprinkler systems is that every individual sprinkler activates simultaneously. While you can set up sprinkler systems this way, the residential sprinklers almost always operate separately. This helps prevent unnecessary water damage; however, water damage can still be a very serious concern.

In most cases, the activated residential sprinklers continue to eject water until they are manually shut off. Ideally, the home fire sprinklers will douse the flames and fully extinguish them. From there, they will need to be shut off by the property owner or a member of the fire department.

What About Water Damage Caused by Fire Sprinklers?

fire system

Unfortunately, installing a fire sprinkler system in your home is not a risk-free safety measure. While they can certainly be effective at smothering flames, a misfiring fire sprinkler can result in significant water damage to your home.

A fire sprinkler malfunction can cause water damage, and a fire sprinkler that continues to run even after it has successfully doused the flames in your home can cause significant water damage to your home and its contents.

Given that the average fire sprinkler ejects around 60 gallons of water per minute, you can imagine how much damage that water can do to a home if the sprinkler is accidentally activated or it continues to release water beyond the time required to extinguish a small fire within your home.

Most fire sprinkler systems are relatively complicated to shut off. Deactivation is usually left up to the fire department, so accidental sprinkler activation can be costly.

Are There Any Ways to Prevent Water Damage Caused by Fire Sprinklers?

fire sprinkler tool

Fortunately, there is a solution to the excessive water damage caused by a fire sprinkler system!

The Shutgun is a quick and effective emergency fire sprinkler shut-off tool. This small but indispensable tool is designed to shut down an activated fire sprinkler quickly. Whether the fire sprinkler has misfired or the fire has been extinguished and the system continues to eject unnecessary water, you can safely shut off the activated sprinkler by hand.

You can keep this handheld tool near your fire extinguisher so it is easily accessible and in a familiar location. Given that the Shutgun works instantaneously and an activated fire sprinkler can release an incredible amount of water in just a minute, this affordable and convenient fire safety tool could save you thousands of dollars in water damage.

How to Order the Shutgun

More than 50,000 Shutguns have been sold to date, and they are used in both commercial and residential settings where a fire sprinkler system has been installed. If you would like to order the world’s leading sprinkler shut-off tool, you can visit the Shutgun website by clicking the following link: Get Your Shutgun.

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