Why It’s Important To Winterize Sprinkler Systems
As we move into autumn and winter, freezing temperatures can present seasonal challenges to your fire sprinklers, making cold-weather preparation and the need to winterize sprinkler systems imperative. There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of sprinkler systems freezing, depending on the type of fire sprinkler system you have — either wet or dry.
Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems
If you have piping installed in unconditioned spaces, parking garages, attic spaces, warehouses, etc., they are most likely dry pipes pressurized with air that holds the water back from the main water line. When a sprinkler is activated, the air is released, which allows the water to flow through the pipes and out the sprinkler head.
Dry pipes are monitored by a fire alarm system via air pressure switches that will alert you in the case of a leak in the system when the pressure is unusually low, however, moisture and water may go undetected. Dry systems are intentionally provided with low-point drains where moisture will accumulate. Water in areas that are subject to freezing temperatures can go undetected by electronic monitoring and visual inspection until it’s too late.
To prepare for winter, a fire sprinkler technician will check and drain the low points of the system where drains are located to dispose of the condensation. The technician will also check the pitch or angle of the pipes to the drains to make sure that the condensation flows properly to the low-point drains.
Wet Fire Sprinkler Systems
Wet sprinkler systems are typically found inside many businesses, full of water, and activated by the heat of a fire. While most wet fire sprinkler systems are installed in buildings where the temperature won’t drop below 50 degrees, there are situations in which they may be exposed to the elements — in mechanical rooms or unoccupied buildings, for instance.
To prepare for winter and to keep the water inside the pipes of a wet fire sprinkler system from freezing, an antifreeze loop is added. By adding antifreeze to the water in the fire sprinkler pipes, the freezing point is much lower, reducing the risk of the pipes freezing.
Winterize Sprinkler Systems Now To Avoid Costly Repairs
When the temperatures drop and the water freezes, the frozen water in the fire sprinkler piping could result in two significant dangers — the piping will either expand and break or an ice blockage could form. If the pipe does rupture, water damage is sure to occur to everything in the immediate area and likely to soak everything downstream. But even if the frozen portion of the pipe does not rupture, water flow may be prevented by ice, rendering the system ineffective in an emergency.
The time to prevent this from happening is before cold weather is upon us. Even one cold snap can bring a system to the breaking point if it has not been properly winterized.
PSI Can Help
If you haven’t had your fire sprinkler system serviced and inspected within the past year, schedule time with a PSI technician to ensure your sprinkler system is working properly and is not at risk of freezing.
In addition to winterizing your fire sprinkler system, our factory-trained and NICET-certified technicians can also provide comprehensive testing and inspection services for the following systems:
- Fire alarms
- Fire sprinklers
- Backflow preventers
- Fire pumps
- Fire extinguishers
- Kitchen hood suppression
- Special hazard
- Security and access control
For more information or to schedule inspection services, contact PSI today.