Can Fire Sprinklers Cause Flooding?

  • February 14, 2024
Firefighter in Building dealing with fire sprinkler systems

The idea that your fire sprinkler system can cause floods is a myth, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t once true: the earliest versions of fire sprinkler systems would erupt all at once, drenching the entire property. Luckily, those systems were phased out decades ago, and today’s modern systems provide more focused fire suppression services. 

Activation Fire Sprinkler Systems in Greenville, SC

When you break down how fire sprinklers detect fires, you’ll realize that all the sprinklers in a building work independently. Only the sprinkler head closest to the heat source activates, subduing fires without exposing the rest of the property to water damage.

Fire sprinkler systems use a small metal link or heat-sensitive liquid within a plastic or glass bulb. The sprinkler head opens once the liquid expands and breaks the bulb, or the metal link melts. Typically, these components must reach temperatures between 135 and 650 degrees, so steam from a stove isn’t enough to set off the reaction.

3 Types of Fire Sprinkler Systems

Before installing new fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC, you should know the differences between wet and dry systems. While all systems operate similarly, the nuanced differences will help you decide on the best system for your space. 

1. Wet Sprinkler Systems

The most common fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC, are wet pipe systems. These systems are most common in apartment buildings, schools, retail stores, and similar structures. Since these systems use water-filled pipes, they work best in buildings with sufficient heating systems. When a rise in temperature triggers the activation of a sprinkler head, that head will release water.

Although multiple heads won’t unnecessarily release water all at once, there’s still a small chance of flooding to be aware of: unprotected pipes can freeze and burst, releasing large amounts of water. Therefore, a wet sprinkler system isn’t ideal for unheated venues or open structures.

2. Dry Sprinkler Systems

Open venues like parking garages or stadiums should always use dry fire sprinkler systems. In these systems, pipes fill with pressurized air or nitrogen, and once a rise in heat triggers the sprinkler head, the air or gas gets released. The reduction in air pressure allows water to flow through the pipes until released through the sprinkler head.

These systems are ideal wherever freezing temperatures pose a challenge, like in outdoor venues or inside commercial refrigeration equipment. Since the exterior temperature in a refrigerator or freezer remains cold, storing water in the sprinkler system’s pipes isn’t possible, and a dry sprinkler system is the best alternative.

3. Deluge Systems

While wet and dry systems won’t pose significant flooding risks, that’s not the case for deluge sprinkler systems. The sprinklers and connecting pipes of these systems stay open at all times. Heat-sensing equipment, such as smoke or heat detectors, will trigger the alarm in a primary control panel, and once the system detects the alarm, it opens the deluge valve.

In a deluge system, water floods through all the pipes, leading to every sprinkler head. This system is perfect for hazardous environments where a fire could release chemical fumes, cause explosions, or pose other safety risks (like laboratories, chemical processing plants, and nuclear power plants). 

Minimize Your Risks of a False Alarm

Whether you use a wet, dry, or deluge system, it’s all about prevention. Following a preventive maintenance plan is the best method for reducing any risk. Keep up with legally required inspections, and consider scheduling extra inspections during the colder months. Make sure to fix plumbing issues immediately, too, as your sprinkler system relies on adequate water flow.

If you’re concerned about freezing pipes, consult your fire sprinkler service company; workers will be able to evaluate these risks for you and offer ways to combat freezing temperatures.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Fire Sprinkler System?

A&A Fire Protection provides every aspect of fire sprinkler care to meet your needs. From delivering professional-quality installation services to providing the maintenance and repair services you need to keep your system in good working order, you can count on our skilled and dedicated team. Contact us today to request any of our services for fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC.