Posted September 27th, 2018 by Fire & Life Safety America

frozen pipesWinterizing fire sprinkler systems is a critical service needed to reduce the chance of issues associated with damage to piping caused by freezing. Without checking your system, cold weather can cause your fire protection system to cease to function – or worse, burst!

Fire Sprinkler System Testing

FLSA suggests inspecting and testing wet, dry, and antifreeze sprinkler systems before the onset of cold weather. Take the time to inspect your sprinkler systems for the following items.

Items to check for dry, wet, and antifreeze systems

  • Verify FDC is not full of water and ball drips are working properly
  • Check water storage tank heaters for proper operation where present
  • Determine if heat tracing is intact and operating properly – including monitoring systems for heat trace systems
  • Visually inspect the integrity of any pipe insulation where provided
  • Visually inspect any wet pipe in attic areas to determine if required insulation is in place, or if the insulation has been disturbed
  • Remember that 40 degrees F is the minimum temperature allowed on any wet portion of a sprinkler system

Dry Pipe and Pre-Action Systems

  • Check all dry pipe and pre-action systems to make sure they are not flooded
  • Drain all low point drains – pay special attention to areas outside the building such as the pump room
  • Verify & record location of all drains
  • Verify proper operation, function and settings for the air compressor or alternate air supply
  • Drain condensation from air compressor tank
  • Check valve rooms, pump rooms, stair enclosures and areas with exposed piping for the following:
    • Heaters are working properly
    • Dampers are closed
    • No unprotected openings are present

Antifreeze Systems

  • Many wet sprinkler systems prevent pipes freezing by adding an antifreeze solution to the system. Check the antifreeze systems by testing the concentration of the antifreeze solution. If necessary, adjust the level of antifreeze solution in the systems to prevent freezing. When dealing with anti-freeze systems, reference (NFPA 25, Section 5.3.3) for additional information.

When Should I Inspect My Sprinkler System?

It is important to visually inspect your fire sprinkler system before the onset of cold weather and periodically throughout the winter. After winterizing your system, check routinely for leaks, corrosion, or anything that appears out of the ordinary with your system.

I Live in a Warm Climate – Do I Need to Winterize My System?

FLSA recommends checking your fire sprinkler system before the winter, even if your location experiences mild winters. In fact, many times buildings in warmer climates are even more vulnerable to freezing because insulating measures are ignored. Without inspecting your system, it can be difficult to properly prepare for the onset of cold weather and whether or not your system is ready. Even one cold snap can bring a system to the breaking point if it has not been properly winterized.

FLSA Sprinkler Winterization Services

FLSA may provide winterization services as a standalone service call or as a part of annual and/or quarterly inspection services agreement. Winterization should always be performed prior to the on-set of cold weather and may be performed by the customer (owner) or by FLSA Technicians or Inspectors.

NFPA 25 establishes the responsibility for fire sprinkler system inspection, testing and maintenance as the owner’s responsibility. As part of the inspection, FLSA clearly communicates the customer’s obligation to check all items on the checklist throughout the cold months.

Think you’re prepared to winterize your own fire sprinkler system? Feel free to download our easily-printable checklist on how to winterize your fire sprinkler system. If you don’t feel comfortable winterizing your fire protection system, or if you have any questions contact FLSA.

Download Winterization Checklist Now!