Winterizing Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
                                                              -Benjamin Franklin

These words ring just as true today as they did when they were first spoken.

Every year work routines are disrupted, revenue is lost, property is damaged, and thousands upon thousands of dollars are expended because an ounce of prevention is often overlooked until it is time for a pound of cure. This is usually the case when dealing with problems relating to a dry fire sprinkler system, especially in winter.

Winter’s plunging temperatures have the potential to make the upcoming months very stressful for building and facility managers and very expensive for property owners who opt for the pound of cure by foregoing any efforts to winterize their dry fire sprinkler systems; when simple steps can be taken to help prevent most of the potential problems. Below is a list of five things every manager/owner should do to minimize the risk of winter related problems associated with their dry fire sprinkler systems.

  1. Check all building windows and doors for drafts and make sure all open/close mechanisms are fully functional and provide a tight seal.
  2. Ensure insulation is intact so rapid temperature changes are mitigated.
  3. Service all HVAC equipment to proper working order.
  4. Service all air handling equipment and check the air pressure in the system.
  5. Drain all accumulated water from every auxiliary drain (low-point drain).

Steps 1 and 2 help to alleviate any drastic fluctuations in temperature which can reduce potential freezing and thawing cycles. If your building is equipped with a heating system where the dry fire sprinkler system is located make sure it is in working order, this will help prevent most of the problems the colder temperatures create by providing a more formidable climate for the system. Colder temperatures can quickly reduce air pressure so make sure all of the air handling equipment is in good working order and routinely check the system’s air pressure to make sure the equipment is maintaining the required pressure. Drain ALL of the accumulated water from EVERY auxiliary drain (low-point drain) and routinely check each auxiliary drain for any accumulation of condensation; auxiliary drains are typically the primary and most reoccuring source of trouble when temperatures drop since they are burdened with the task of collecting the condensation the air in the system produces and are extremely susceptible to freezing and breaking when even the smallest amounts of water are present.

By following these simple suggestions, checking the system’s air pressure, and routinely monitoring the auxiliary drains’ condensation levels (drains should always be empty in colder temperatures) the risk of a system breakdown should be minimal and managers/owners should see fewer problems and less repair expenses. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, or an unwarranted repair expense.

AGF Manufacturing’s COLLECTanDRAIN line offers solutions to weather-related, dry fire sprinkler system problems. COLLECTanDRAIN products are easy to install and can be retrofitted into existing systems.

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100 Quaker Lane • Malvern, PA 19355 • Phone: 610-240-4900 • Fax: 610-240-4906