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Winter Is Coming: Tips To Prevent Fire Sprinkler Freeze-Ups

Do you have a dry pipe fire sprinkler system? Then you should pay attention. Winter is a scary time not just for our favorite characters in Game of Thrones, but also for your sprinkler system. As winter approaches and temperatures start dropping you need to protect your fire sprinkler system.

Why, what happens in the winter?

Fire Department Connection Snow

Dry pipe fire sprinklers are typically used in spaces that are susceptible to freezing, such as warehouses, attics, or parking garages. These systems are considered “dry,” because the sprinkler pipe contains compressed air, rather than water. When a fire occurs, the piping will fill with water and out of the activated sprinkler head.

Time for a brief science lesson (don’t worry, we’ll keep it simple). Dry pipe systems are pressurized with air, and that air contains moisture. The moisture condenses and collects in the low points of your piping, which makes it susceptible to freezing. Eventually, the frozen water will expand and push against the walls of the pipe, fittings, and/or sprinkler heads until it breaks.

Now, I want you to imagine what happens when all that ice begins to thaw and you have pipe that is broken. Yeah, we don’t like water damage either.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid water damage and expensive repair costs and instead, ensure your system is in proper working condition all winter long.

What is winterization?

Frozen pipe

To protect against the freezing and breakage of the sprinkler system (and the water damage to your property that may ensue), we strongly advise performing winterization BEFORE the cold weather arrives.

Capitol Fire Sprinkler will come to your location and perform the following:

  1. Shut and drain your sprinkler system
  2. Bleed and blow out the low points with air
  3. Restore the sprinkler system back to dry service

Great, so now I’m all set?

We wish we could say that once you perform winterization, you’re in the clear.

However, after the initial winterization is performed, maintaining your system throughout the winter becomes your responsibility. To increase your protection against freeze ups, regular draining of the low points should be performed by the owner’s representative.

In conclusion, don’t freeze up! Winterize your sprinkler system. Capitol Fire Sprinkler will send you a friendly reminder ahead of time to perform winterization, so you can avoid the headache of frozen pipes and broken fittings in the cold winter months to keep your system functioning properly.

P.S.

Thermometer

To our wet fire sprinkler system friends, you’re not completely off the hook either. According to NFPA25 2014 Edition, “The property owner or designated representative shall ensure the water-filled piping is maintained at a minimum temperature of 40° F unless an approved antifreeze solution is utilized”.

Translation: You must keep your building heated at 40° F or warmer, or you also run the risk of all the consequences mentioned above.

Let us repeat that one more time: you must provide adequate heating or your system can freeze up.

NYC Snow by Sarah Ackerman  is licensed under CC BY 2.0

IMG_2484 by Joe Loong is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Frozen Pipes by Jimmy Joe  is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Kodak Thermometer by Per-Olof Forsberg  is licensed under CC BY 2.0