How Freezing Rain & Cold Temperatures Affects Fire Sprinklers

  • February 29, 2024
Commercial fire sprinkler company Greenville SC

Fires are more common during the cold winter than many people realize. As a business owner or homeowner, maintaining your property’s fire sprinkler system becomes all the more important in freezing weather. Here’s what you need to know about how freezing temperatures affect fire sprinklers and how to keep your property protected all year long:

How Does Winter Affect Fire Sprinkler Systems?

If you’ve taken advantage of a fire sprinkler incentive program, you’ll want to do everything you can to extend the lifetime of the equipment. Winter weather conditions and freezing rain can form ice on your plumbing pipes, leading to potential disaster. Even the pipes used by the sprinkler system face this same hazard (in fact, check them while you’re at it). 

Once your pipes freeze, the system may not function when it detects a fire. Additionally, frozen pipes might burst and lead to water damage and costly plumbing repairs. Depending on the type of fire sprinkler system you have in your building, you can take steps to protect your equipment:

Wet Sprinkler Systems

A wet sprinkler system is pre-filled with water. Once the system detects a fire, the sprinklers release the water, drawing on the building’s plumbing system. This design means any plumbing issues throughout the building could prevent the system from getting the water it needs.

Inspections performed by a commercial fire sprinkler company in Greenville, SC, can ensure the equipment continues to operate as it should (beyond the sprinkler pipes). In the meantime, make sure your plumbing pipes stay warm. You will want to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees or higher wherever plumbing pipes are present.

And while a minimum temperature of 40 degrees isn’t difficult to maintain in most areas, this can pose a problem in some situations. Warehouses, loading docks, and plumbing access points are typically unheated. Insulate the pipes in these areas for additional protection and open the doors leading to heated parts of the building to disperse the warm air.

Dry Sprinkler Systems

In contrast to a wet system, dry sprinkler systems store air or gas fills the pipes. While this rules out freezing water as a concern, the exterior of the pipes can suffer damage. As condensation forms on the pipes, the surface will form ice, leading to cracks or leaks.

For automatic fire sprinklers, temperature also plays a role in the efficiency of dry systems. Pay attention to areas that don’t receive sufficient heat. These areas include parking garages, outdoor venues, or mechanical utility rooms.

You can prevent the pipes in your dry sprinkler system from freezing by guarding against condensation. The pipes in this system should also have insulation in unheated areas. You can add even more protection by asking a professional to wrap outdoor pipes in heat tape.

Why Should I Call the Professionals?

The most crucial step is to schedule regular inspections and testing. These tests keep the equipment in good working order and identify mechanical issues within the system. A fire sprinkler company can also inspect drains and low points where condensation is more likely to collect. Clearing moisture from these points in the system will reduce the risks presented by freezing temperatures.

A commercial fire sprinkler company, like A&A Fire Protection, can also modify pipe angles for you. An incorrect angle often gathers condensation at a low point, forming water that will ultimately freeze. Your sprinkler system inspection might involve changing the angles of these pipes to promote better flow. 

While you might only need an annual inspection to comply with legal requirements, more frequent inspections will protect your system. For example, you might need inspections every few months if your building includes an outdoor venue or warehouse. Talk to a local fire sprinkler service company about your system’s winter maintenance needs.

Commercial Fire Sprinkler Company in Greenville, SC

A&A Fire Protection installs new fire sprinkler systems, renovates existing systems, and provides inspection or repair services. We can inspect your system and help you winterize your fire sprinkler equipment when the climate gets colder. Contact us today to benefit from the best fire sprinkler maintenance and repairs in South Carolina.