When the leaves are changing color and you start to wonder if this is the weekend when the clocks need to be turned back, it is also time to think about preparing your fire protection systems for winter. Taking the proper steps before the cold weather fully hits will save you the time and money of dealing with broken sprinklers and other components.
Any pipe containing water or condensation could be susceptible to freezing and bursting in cold weather. This can lead to an extensive loss of property and equipment due to water damage. It can also lead to drastically reduced fire protection should an emergency arise.
To make sure your fire protection system can handle the worst winter has to offer, just follow these handy tips.
Get your system inspected by a qualified fire protection professional. Depending on your locale, automatic sprinkler components may need to be inspected as often as every month. A thorough inspection will also uncover any deficiencies in your system and compliance with all appropriate fire codes.
Dry pipe sprinkler systems also need to be inspected for any water that may have pooled in low areas from previous use. Without checking and draining these pipes, even a dry system can be susceptible to freezing.
If your fire system employs wet pipe sprinklers, you may need an antifreeze component to insure against freezing. The type and amount of antifreeze in your system depends on factors like pipe material and whether the system connects to potable water.
If your system connects to public drinking water, only Glycerine or Glycol can be used as the antifreeze. The determining factor is whether your pipes are made out of CPVC. Glycol has a chemical component that degrades CPVC piping.
You will also need to make sure your fire protection system is ready for the coldest expected temperatures of the region. This is accomplished by mixing your antifreeze with water in varying strengths. Many locales require that a certified engineer administer and monitor antifreeze in a fire prevention system.
It is also important to check the antifreeze solution periodically throughout the winter months to make sure the strength of the antifreeze has not weakened.
The key to avoiding pipes freezing is to keep the cold air away obviously. But this is not always as simple as it sounds. There are many areas of a building that could be allowing freezing weather to infiltrate and putting your entire system at risk.
Be on the lookout in often overlooked areas like garages, closets and attics. These are potential trouble spots where thin insulation, broken windows, and exposed roof areas may go unnoticed. As a general rule, any area with sprinkler piping should always be kept above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any pipes that will be exposed to temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit need to be enclosed or insulated. Heat tape is a popular measure for pipe insulation.
It is also important to make sure that any sprinklers located near a heat source have a high temperature ratings. This will lower the risk of accidental activation.
Following these easy guidelines will give you the peace of mind that your fire protection system can survive the winter.
Fire and Life Safety America also has a number of affordable fire protection solutions for commercial, residential, and industrial buildings. Products include sprinkler systems, fire detection and alarms, and special hazard systems to protect equipment that is crucial to business operations. Services include inspection and repair of fire safety systems including winterization.
For more fire safety tips and to learn more about affordable fire protection and fire life safety systems, check out our blog.