Winter weather is almost here! Now is a great time to ensure you winterize your sprinkler systems to endure lower temperatures. If you have a sprinkler system protecting your building, there are several steps that you can take to prevent damage to your system from freezing or malfunctioning when it gets too cold.
Wet Sprinkler System Maintenance
A wet sprinkler system consists of a network of pipes filled with water. During the winter months areas that contain the sprinkler piping and sprinkler valves must be kept above 32°F (0°C). This sometimes becomes an issue when a build owner decides to shut off the heat to save money in a vacant building. If any area of the pipe is exposed to freezing, it can crack and cause additional damage to the building beyond the sprinkler system.
There are a couple ways to prevent potential freezing from occurring:
- Install a heat trace system which will produce a small amount of heat when electricity is passed through it.
- Adding liquid antifreeze, similar to the solution in our cars, can help but the solution must be the correct mixture. A sprinkler contractor can complete this for you to avoid mistakes.
Dry Sprinkler System Maintenance
In a dry sprinkler system, the sprinkler pipes are filled with air instead of water to protect unheated areas like parking garages or cold storage. If you have a dry sprinkler system, these simple steps should be completed before the cold weather each year:
- Drain the drum drips until they are free of moisture. Close the top valve and open the bottom valve to drain any water into a bucket or drain. Repeat until no more water comes out.
- Leave the valves of drum drips in the proper positions (the top valve should be open and the bottom valve closed).
- Check to make sure the valve room is heated. The area with the sprinkler piping does not need to be heated, but the valve room must be heated.
- Drain priming to proper levels.
- Check the operation of the air compressor.
These steps toward winterizing you sprinkler system can save you thousands in water damage and or piping repairs. Associated Fire Protection will check these items for you during our regularly scheduled inspections, but they may need to be checked more frequently depending on how many times we visit your location a year. Download our Winterizing Sprinkler System checklist here to help you stay ahead of issues. If you need to keep up to date with important fire protection information please follow us on our Facebook or Linkedin page. Should you have any additional questions, please give us a call at 973-684-7250.