As the weather drops below freezing, fire sprinkler pipes are at risk of freezing. Frozen sprinkler pipes can cause a lot of problems, especially if a fire breaks out. When small maintenance tasks are performed by building owners, freeze-ups can easily be prevented.
Dry vs. Wet Pipe Freeze-Ups
It is important to note that sprinkler freeze-ups can occur in both dry pipe and wet pipe systems. A common misconception is that dry pipe systems do not need to be checked for freeze-ups. However, dry pipe systems have moisture in the compressed air within the pipes. When this water accumulates during cold weather it has the potential of freezing which can cause costly damages to your system. In wet pipe systems, the most common issue for freeze-ups is having inadequately heated sections of sprinkler pipes.
Cold Weather System Checks
When the cold weather begins, it is important for the building owner to perform checks on their fire sprinkler systems in addition to regular inspections and testing done by a fire protection professional. Building owners should perform maintenance tasks based on the type of system they have installed. Wet and dry pipe systems will have different upkeep requirements for winter weather. Here are some basic tasks a building owner should perform-
For Wet Pipe Sprinklers:
- Close up any unnecessary openings in the building that may let in cold air
- Maintain the building heat at an adequate temperature
- Make sure the coldest parts of the building are adequately heated. These areas include eaves, shipping doors, and places without direct heat
- Install low temperature alarms in areas with poor heating
- Provide heat to vulnerable areas such as crawl spaces, attics, and suspended ceilings
- Check insulation in areas near wet pipe sprinklers
For Dry Pipe Sprinklers:
- Maintain a temperature of an adequate temperature in dry pipe valve rooms, fire pump rooms, and areas with wet pipe sprinklers
- Use thermostatically controlled heating instead of portable heaters
- Drain all low point drains and install additional drains if needed
- All low point drain and drum drip piping should be extended into a heated area
- Have air leaks repaired to keep system from tripping if compressor power is lost
- Air supplied to the compressor should come from a dry, room-temperature source. If this is not possible, or moisture build-up is a problem, consider installing an air dryer or using nitrogen instead of air
- Have the pitch checked on any pipes where the pipe or hangers have been hit, altered, or appear sagging
Fire Sprinkler Services
If you have any questions regarding fire sprinkler maintenance during the cold winter weather, contact Davis-Ulmer. We can provide fire sprinkler system inspections and testing to keep your system running smoothly. Look no further than Davis-Ulmer for your full-service fire protection needs.