Dry pipe sprinkler systems are primarily used in areas where ambient temperatures can drop below freezing, commonly found in unheated buildings or outside areas such as mezzanines or parking garages.
In traditional wet pipe sprinkler systems, water is always present in the pipes so when a sprinkler head is activated from a fire, the pressurized water flows immediately out to extinguish the fire. Since water can freeze during low temperatures during winter months, areas exposed without temperature control require a dry pipe sprinkler system to put out fires effectively without freeze blockages or burst pipes.
What Areas In Your Property Can They Be Found?
Since this type of system is used in areas with temperature control, they can be found in areas exposed to the outside. For multifamily and commercial properties, dry sprinkler systems can commonly be found on balconies, patios, attics, and parking garages. If your building has any large freezers or cold storage, dry systems also become the practical choice.
If your property is a historic building, heating systems might be limited. Dry sprinkler systems may be used in these types of properties to protect against fires without risking frozen pipes.
How Do Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems Work?
The pipes are filled with pressurized air or nitrogen, which keeps water from flowing through a dry valve into any fire sprinkler heads. When a sprinkler head is activated, the air pressure drops, allowing a valve to open and water to flow into the pipes, and eventually, the activated sprinkler head. This design prevents the water from freezing in the pipes, ensuring the system remains operational in cold environments.
- Pressurization: The dry pipes are filled with compressed air or nitrogen gas to keep constant pressure and keep water from flowing until needed.
- Activation of Sprinkler Heads: Each sprinkler head is equipped with a heat-sensitive element, which activates the sprinkler head when it responds to heat from a fire. When the heat is detected, the sprinkler head releases the pressurized gas and triggers the water to flow.
- Dry Valve Operation: When the pressurized gas is released, it triggers a valve to open within a specialized valve enclosure. This controls the water flow to the system.
- Water Flow: Water flows from the valve through the pipe system to the activated sprinkler head. The water exits the sprinkler head in a spray pattern over the affected areas for fire suppression, putting out the fire and preventing it from spreading.
How Do You Keep Dry Pipe Sprinkler Systems Safe?
Regular inspections are the best way to ensure your system is safe while also preventing freeze breaks that can sometimes occur from condensation. These inspections are best done in warm summer months and include visual checks of sprinkler heads, piping, valve enclosures, and other components to check for damage or corrosion. They also may include testing the valve for proper operation and any sign of leakage or malfunction.
Winter preparations are essential since water can condensate from moisture in the air. This includes draining excess water from low points in the system to help prevent expensive freeze breaks.
At Integrity Fire, we’re your partner in fire protection. Our main focus is keeping your building and people safe and you informed along the way. Reach out today and discover the care and expertise we give to each property to get to know the building and ensure you’re ready for anything. Because It Matters.