Dry vs. Wet Pipe Fire Systems: What’s the Difference?

  • August 22, 2023
Fire sprinkler systems Greenville SC

If you own a commercial building or want to install residential fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC, you must choose between a dry or wet pipe system. But before you can make the right choice for your building, you need to understand the differences between each type of pipe.

While both systems effectively deliver water to suppress fires, they work in different environments. This article explores the differences and compares dry versus wet pipe fire sprinkler systems to determine the best option for your home or office.

What Is a Wet Pipe Fire Sprinkler System?

Wet pipe sprinkler systems contain water in the pipes at all times. The water is held back by caps on the sprinkler heads that melt at a specific temperature.

When a fire occurs, it heats the air around the sprinkler head until the maximum temperature is reached. Then, the caps melt, releasing a shower of water from that individual sprinkler head.

Wet pipe systems are the most common type of fire sprinkler system installation. They’re suitable for heated indoor areas, where they are unlikely to reach freezing temperatures that could damage the pipes. Ideal locations for wet pipe systems include:

  • Office buildings
  • Residential homes
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Schools
  • Apartments

Installing wet pipe fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC, can substantially reduce property loss and damage from a fire, whether you own a commercial building or a home.

What Is a Dry Pipe Fire Sprinkler System?

A dry pipe sprinkler system contains pressurized air (rather than water) in the pipes. The air pressure is released when the sprinkler heads reach their heat activation points in a fire. This allows water from a separate supply valve to flow through the pipes and spray from the open sprinkler head onto the fire.

Dry pipe systems prevent water from sitting stagnant in pipes and potentially freezing in unheated areas. Therefore, these systems are ideally suited for outdoor use and indoor regions prone to freezing, such as:

  • Attics
  • Loading docks
  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • Unheated warehouses

The tradeoff is that dry systems tend to have a slightly slower water delivery time than wet systems. Still, they can effectively contain fires in environments unsuitable for wet pipe sprinklers.

You may think you don’t need dry pipe fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC, since the average low is 35 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. However, as doom-and-gloom as it may sound, you’ll want to be prepared for the worst. 

Rather than having unexpected lows that cause freezing water pipes to be unable to release during a fire, it may be worthwhile to invest in a dry pipe fire sprinkler system just to be cautious.

Differences Between Wet and Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems

To summarize the main differences between wet and dry fire sprinkler systems:

  • Wet pipe systems contain pressurized water, while dry systems contain pressurized air.
  • Wet systems provide nearly instant water delivery, and dry systems have a short delay. 
  • Wet systems cannot be used in areas or buildings where pipes may freeze. In contrast, dry systems are specifically designed for freezing environments or unheated buildings.
  • Wet systems are simpler and cheaper to install, while dry systems require additional equipment, like accelerators and an air compressor.
  • Both systems require periodic inspection and testing to ensure they function correctly. Still, dry systems also need maintenance on the air compressor.

If you’re still in doubt about which system is most appropriate for your home, office, or commercial building, reach out to us so we can discuss which method will be the best fit for you.

Fire Sprinkler Systems in Greenville, SC

At A&A Fire Protection, we have several years of experience installing and maintaining wet and dry fire sprinkler systems in Greenville, SC. Our technicians are certified to expertly install new fire sprinklers to code and provide necessary maintenance so you can enjoy optimal protection. Contact us today for a quote to learn more.