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Fire Risk: How to Avoid a Sprinkler System Freeze

A PRIME Insurance Home/Business Owner Special

The home and business risks inherent to cold weather lead to factors that many never contemplated. Freezing temps, particularly in areas where the occurrence is uncommon and unprepared for, can lead to automatic sprinkler system freeze-ups. Aside from the actual damage to the system, this mishap can spell serious trouble in the event of a fire, leaving the property without the necessary fire-quelling sprinkling wherewithal.

To prevent this from happening, it is imperative to take proper precautions before the cold weather actually sets in.

RELATED: How to prepare your home for a blizzard


Wet Pipe Sprinkler System

  • Familiarize yourself with your sprinkler system’s makeup. Should you have a lapse in heating for several hours during a time when there is extreme outdoor cold (when indoor temps range around 40 degrees F), it may be necessary to drain water from the sprinkler system’s wet pipe. This will prevent ice plugging from clogging the piping or damaging fittings and sprinklers.

  • Ensure there is sufficient heat throughout the building so that it will be adequately warmed even during a bout of particularly freezing weather.

  • Inspect under floor spaces, attics, entryways, stairwells, shipping rooms, and any other hidden spaces. If there is not enough heating ducts and air flow in these spots, correct the situation.

  • Look out for drafts or cool air leakage – especially in areas where the sprinkler pipes are located.

  • Fix any window and door deficiency and get the word out to personnel to keep windows and doors tightly shut.

  • Surround outdoor pipes with heated, weather-resistant encasing.

  • Following a lengthy weather freeze, conduct sprinkler riser drain tests to see if underground mains are frozen. Open drain as wide as possible and allow it to run for ½ a minute or longer, then shut it off. Should pressure fail to work normally, immediately empty the mains of all ice.

  • Never utilize an open flame or torch for thawing frozen water pipes located close to combustible material or building parts.

RELATED: Unusual winter facts

Dry Pipe Sprinkler System

  • Ensure the compressor’s air- intakes are situated within a cool, dry environment.

  • Examine low-point drains monthly for any water buildup.
  • Fix any missing or loose sprinkler pipe hangers.

  • Fix all air leaks.

  • Avoid a water freeze in the supply piping by encasing it with an electronical permanently heated  valve-enclosure (at least a constant 40 degrees F).

  • Consider installing a temperature indicating mechanism in the valve room or enclosure with monitoring by an alarm company.


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Summary: Homeowners and Business owners have a lot at stake, should their fire-quelling sprinkler system malfunction. Below average temperatures in the cold of winter can take a great toll on a system’s wellbeing. Get the precautionary safety tips from PRIME Insurance Agency.


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