Did you know that winter is the season with the highest number of fires? Alongside this, cold weather poses a threat to fire sprinkler systems due to freezing pipes. As a business owner, it is crucial to be more vigilant than ever during the winter season to protect your property and the people within it.
Let’s delve into the details.
Why Are Fire Sprinkler Systems at Risk During Winter?
During the winter months, temperatures drop significantly, leading to the freezing of water or condensation in the pipes. This freezing can result in two major effects:
- Frozen pipes can burst and cause extensive water damage.
- Pipes filled with frozen water are ineffective in preventing the spread of fire.
Now, let’s explore how building owners can prevent these risks from occurring in their wet and dry pipe fire sprinkler systems.
How to Protect Wet Fire Sprinkler Systems in Winter
As the name suggests, wet pipe sprinkler systems store water in their pipes. These systems are commonly found in structures like offices and commercial buildings. Since these buildings are often temperature-controlled during winter, the pipes are unlikely to freeze.
However, simple issues such as problems with the building’s heating system or exposed pipes in low-temperature areas can lead to freezing and significant damage to the system.
Maintain Warm Temperatures
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 25, wet sprinkler systems must be maintained at a minimum temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This situation may occur when:
- Insulation is disrupted.
- Pipes exit and reenter the building.
- There’s a lack of building heat.
These occurrences are more common in places like warehouses. Wet sprinkler systems can also be found in buildings with unheated maintenance closets or equipment rooms. Building owners can open vents or doors to ensure warm air circulates into these spaces, preventing pipe freezing.
How to Protect Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems in Winter
Unlike wet sprinkler systems, dry sprinkler systems keep pressurized air inside their pipes instead of water. This design allows them to withstand freezing temperatures. However, it doesn’t guarantee complete protection against damage.
Dry fire sprinkler systems can still freeze if exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, condensation can accumulate over time and damage the pipes, especially during winter.
Dry sprinkler systems are particularly at risk in areas such as:
- Fire sprinkler control rooms
- Parking garages
- Outdoor event spaces
- Isolated rooms
- Unoccupied rooms
- Mechanical rooms
- Inspect Drains and Low Points
Building owners should regularly inspect drains and low points where condensation collects. Draining these points prevents condensation from freezing and damaging the dry pipe sprinkler systems.
Inspect Pipe Angles
The angle of the pipes plays a crucial role in ensuring that condensation flows toward the low point drains. Building owners should seek assistance from experienced technicians to perform this inspection.
The Most Important Step… Inspection and Maintenance!
While building owners can take the above steps to protect their systems, the most effective method to prevent fire sprinkler systems from freezing during winter is to prioritize regular inspections and maintenance. After all, the effectiveness of your fire protection systems depends on the quality of inspections performed on them.
How Often Should These Systems Be Inspected?
The frequency of servicing or inspecting your fire protection systems depends on the specific device. Some systems require weekly, monthly, semi-annual, or annual inspections
to ensure their proper functioning. However, all fire and life safety systems should undergo at least an annual inspection.
Worried Your System is Being Damaged by Low Temperatures?
If you suspect that your fire sprinkler system may be compromised by low temperatures or requires maintenance, our team at Fortis Fire & Security Services is here to help. We understand the importance of winter maintenance and offer reliable fire protection systems that are inspected and maintained by our expert technicians.
Does Your System Need an Inspection?
To fortify your building with reliable fire protection systems, reach out to Fortis Fire & Security Services. We provide testing and inspection services to ensure the safety and functionality of your fire sprinkler systems.
Remember, when it comes to protecting your property and occupants during the winter season, proactive measures such as regular maintenance and inspections are key. By staying prepared and addressing any potential risks, you can ensure that your fire sprinkler systems are ready to face the challenges of winter.
Learn More About Fortis
At Fortis, we provide cutting-edge expertise in fire protection planning, design, and construction. We understand the challenges that modern facilities face and utilize our experience to find efficient and cost-effective solutions. From initial planning to acceptance testing and beyond, we offer a comprehensive suite of services.
We utilize the latest in computer-automated design to map out your system so we know the exact specifications before we even set foot on your job site. No need for drawings, we can map your facility and create blueprints from scratch.
We facilitate BIM coordination for new construction projects. We work with your BIM coordinator to load in our plans to avoid structural conflicts before they happen.
Additionally, all of our designers are NICET certified in their respective fields.
Learn more about our fire protection services, here.