Replacing Commercial Fire Sprinkler Heads: Signs it’s Time for an Upgrade

Fire alarm box on concrete wall

A well-maintained commercial fire sprinkler system can be one of your business’s most important investments. These critical fire safety systems can safeguard lives and protect your property from the destructive forces of an uncontrolled fire. 

Even if your fire sprinkler system was professionally installed and maintained, the individual fire sprinkler heads can wear out.

Unfortunately, if you do not replace your commercial fire sprinkler heads at the appropriate intervals, the effectiveness of your entire system could be compromised. On top of that, worn-out sprinkler heads can leak, resulting in extensive water damage and the spread of mold. 

We recommend keeping a Shutgun fire sprinkler shut-off tool close by to help avoid these damages. With wall-mount kits, laminated instruction cards, and water protection kits available, Shutgun has everything you need to make sure you can stop water damage at the first sign of trouble.

The safety and financial risks associated with not replacing fire sprinkler heads promptly can far exceed any costs related to upgrading them on time. Today, we are going to highlight some of the signs that will indicate that your fire sprinkler heads need to be replaced. 

So, if you want to learn how to maintain your fire sprinkler system, let’s get started! 

Why Do You Need to Replace Commercial Fire Sprinkler Heads? 

Before we dive into the signs you should look out for, it’s worth taking a few moments to quickly explain why timely fire sprinkler head replacement is so important.

For starters, failure to replace damaged sprinkler heads can compromise the reliability of the entire system. In a fire, a damaged sprinkler may not release water efficiently. 

As with all components of fire safety, failure to maintain your fire sprinkler system appropriately could also have serious legal and insurance ramifications.

If, for example, it was proven that you had not maintained your system and damaged fire sprinklers were partially responsible for the scale of a fire, your business could be fined, and any potential insurance payout could be put at risk. 

Damaged fire sprinkler heads can also misfire and leak, which can cause extensive water damage and even impact your property’s structural integrity. Costs associated with leaks and misfires can quickly rise into the range of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Pro Tip: We recommend keeping a Shutgun fire sprinkler shut-off tool next to every fire extinguisher in your facility. This handy tool helps protect against water damage from sprinkler head misfires.

Finally, failure to replace fire sprinkler heads on a routine basis could even lead to more significant and costly repairs. 

Pipes for fire sprinklers

What Are the Signs that Your Commercial Fire Sprinkler Heads Should Be Replaced? 

Now that you know why it is so vital to replace fire sprinkler heads, here are some of the most noticeable signs that it is time for a replacement: 

1. Visible Signs of Corrosion

Rust is one of the first things you should look for during a fire sprinkler inspection. Over time, the metallic portions of the sprinkler head can corrode, especially if they have been installed in a humid environment.

Not only can rust hinder the sprinkler head’s ability to spray water effectively, but the rust can spread to the main water supply pipes, which could result in significant leaks and water damage. 

In short, any signs of rust on a sprinkler head should be a clear indication that it should be replaced. 

Dripping water

2. Dripping and Water Stains 

If you notice that any of your sprinkler heads are actively dripping or leaking water, they should be replaced or repaired immediately.

Even if the sprinkler head is not dripping, but you notice that the wall or ceiling surrounding it, or even the floor below it, has noticeable water stains, it can be a sign that the seals within the sprinkler head have worn out.  

Addressing this issue quickly can help you avoid more costly water damage down the line. If a fire sprinkler head leaks while it is not running, it could result in a full-blown rupture when a fire triggers it.

Take leaks and drips seriously, and have the fire sprinkler head replaced if professional service personnel determine that it cannot be repaired.

3. Signs of Physical Damage

While it may sound obvious, you should keep an eye out for any cracks, dents, or other visible deformities that could impact the performance of your sprinkler heads. These issues tend to be more common in industrial settings, where accidental impacts could damage the sprinkler head. 

As you would expect, even slight damage could impact the sprinkler head’s performance when activated. If they are damaged, it is not worth the risk, meaning they should be replaced as quickly as possible. 

If you notice that this is a recurring issue, or you operate a high-traffic industrial workplace and want to prevent it from happening in the first place, we recommend installing fire sprinkler head guards and cages. These protect the sprinkler head from damage without compromising its ability to dispense water. 

In the event that a fire sprinkler head has been damaged and you need to shut it off, you’ll need a sheared head attachment to work alongside the Shutgun tool. This will allow you to turn off the damaged sprinkler head and prevent damage to your facility.

Other Reasons Why You Should Replace Fire Sprinkler Heads

Aside from the three main signs highlighted above, you should also consider replacing or upgrading your fire sprinkler heads or fire suppression system if you have recently expanded or altered the layout of your workplace.

When certified professionals install commercial fire sprinkler systems, the sprinkler heads are distributed in a way that will ensure the entire building is covered. Any significant changes to the layout may require the installation of new sprinkler heads or even replacing them with different types of sprinkler heads. 

One of the more obvious reasons to replace fire sprinkler heads is if you notice that they poorly distribute water when they are used. Uneven spray patterns or a disrupted water flow could mean the sprinkler head has internal damage. This can also occur as a result of age.

You should also have your fire sprinkler system assessed to determine if it is adequate for the fire safety requirements of the building. If the sprinkler heads are not up to code, they should be replaced quickly. 

How to Prevent Water Damage from Fire Sprinkler Head Misfires 

Even a well-maintained fire sprinkler head can be activated accidentally or completely misfire. Unfortunately, this can result in costly water damage, as the average fire sprinkler head can release as much as 60 gallons of water in a single minute! 

Without the right tools, you would be forced to wait for the arrival of the fire department or a fire sprinkler service team to deactivate the sprinkler head. In that time, the water could destroy your inventory, equipment, and even the building itself. 

The Shutgun is an affordable solution that you can use to shut off a fire sprinkler head in seconds. Rather than being forced to wait for the arrival of firefighters or maintenance personnel, you can handle the problem internally and, in the process, save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in water damage.

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