How can you tell if your fire sprinkler system has a leak? Being able to detect residential fire sprinklers could save your life. Here we explore why this is the case.
Home fire sprinkler systems are an effective and affordable method of protecting property and lives. The maintenance required on residential fire sprinklers is minimal compared to commercial systems and they are designed to last for decades.
According to the Central Savannah River Area Society of Fire Protection Engineers, fire sprinklers rarely malfunction, and the chances of a defective sprinkler head are less than one in sixteen million.
In most cases, only one sprinkler head is required to control fire and in a study conducted in New Zealand and Australia over 82 years of automatic fire sprinkler use, it was found that in 82% of fires that occurred two or fewer sprinklers were needed to control it.
It makes sense to ensure that fire sprinkler systems are inspected regularly and are well maintained to avoid potential injury and death from property fires.
Sprinkler Leak Maintenance
When a residential fire sprinkler system is installed each owner is provided with a set of specific instructions for the maintenance and testing of the equipment.
Some of the essential steps that should be followed include:
1. Opening the system test valve on a regular basis (recommendations vary depending on different manufacturers from once a month to about once a year) to ensure that there is water flow and if there is an alarm, that it is working.
2. Conducting occasional visual inspections of the sprinkler heads as well as any exposed valves and piping.
3. Winterising the pipes in the system the same as any other water pipes especially if living in a cold area.
4. Making sure that the control valve is always in the open position to ensure that the sprinkler system will operate in an emergency.
5. Replacing any damaged sprinkler heads immediately.
6. Do not block, paint over or otherwise damage the sprinkler heads.
How Does a Fire Sprinkler System Operate?
A residential fire sprinkler system normally sits at ambient temperature and the biggest challenge is when water at street temperature enters the piping that may drop the temperature by about 20 degrees.
This water is not delivered in a constant flow but in one charge under pressure. Normally we trust that the pipes are able to withstand the pressure without leaking, but there are no guarantees.
The system is usually pressure tested with water to one and a half times working pressure for at least 24 hours before being placed into service. If this has been done correctly the chances of a leak occurring under normal pressure will be extremely low.
It is extremely difficult for a homeowner to detect a leak in the system. Some homeowners invest in a very accurate pressure gauge but unless the system is valve-isolated until used, it will be very difficult to detect a small leak.
Water is a precious resource and we should all contribute as much as possible to save it. 90% less water is used by a home sprinkler system than it takes the Fire Department to extinguish a fire.
If you suspect that there may be a leak in the sprinkler system on your property, give Austest Pipeline Solutions a call to detect any leaks.