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How to Avoid Performance and Maintenance Issues with Fire Sprinkler Systems

By: Mark Knurek on January 2nd, 2019

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How to Avoid Performance and Maintenance Issues with Fire Sprinkler Systems


Fire sprinkler system reliability is critical to the safety and security of your building and occupants. Malfunctions or piping system issues come in a variety of forms, but some of the most common include restricted water flow, blocked sprinkler heads, and leaks within the system.

A 2013 study by John Hall (in conjunction with the NFPA) reported that 77% of ineffective fire sprinkler system activations were a cause of either 1) the water not reaching the fire, or 2) insufficient water supply.

Installers and building owners can avoid these problems by choosing the correct materials for their systems and performing proper maintenance.


Corrosion and Scale Buildup in Metal Piping

The most common problems facing metal fire sprinkler systems are scaling and corrosion.

Water can be corrosive to metal piping if it falls outside of a neutral pH, and impurities in the water can lead to scaling issues.

Scale is build-up of minerals on the pipe surface. As minerals drop out of the water, and attach to the piping surface, the pipe opening constricts. This constriction limits water flow and can increase pressure loss.

Corrosion happens as charged ions within the water attract ions from the metal surface. This process can eat away parts of the metal surface, and eventually lead to pieces flaking off.

Over time, these issues can restrict water flow, weaken the piping material and joints, increase pressure loss, and cause leaks to form. In some cases, corrosion deposits can settle in sprinkler head outlets limiting how much water can be released.


How to Avoid Issues with Fire Sprinkler Systems

Maintenance is the key to a well-functioning system. NFPA 25 outlines best practices and procedures for fire sprinkler system inspection. These include:

  • Valve status tests
  • Internal piping assessments
  • Fire pump operating and flow tests
  • Forward-flow tests for backflow preventers
  • Risk assessment and performance-based testing programs
  • Preparing pre-planned impairment reports
  • Hydrant flushing, and testing
  • Overall testing of the system

Owners of metal piping systems are also required to perform periodic corrosion tests through a third-party testing service.

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Avoid Critical Issues and Reduce Maintenance with CPVC

Many of the issues commonly seen with fire sprinkler systems today are rooted more in the materials they’re made with, rather than maintenance.

CPVC is a superior material for fire protection systems because it’s durable, relatively inexpensive, and, most importantly, is not susceptible to corrosion and scaling.

With CPVC, third party corrosion tests aren’t necessary, and general maintenance is simplified because corrosion and scaling risks are much lower.


Additional Resources from BlazeMaster® Fire Protection Systems

Fire sprinkler system malfunction is a serious issue and risk, and one that we want to make sure you never have to deal with. Whether you’re looking to start a new CPVC build or to phase out your metal system with CPVC, you can check out some of our free resources that will help you get started.

Additionally, you can get in contact with our team at any time for expert guidance.


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