It should come as no surprise that a fire outbreak can cause extensive damage. However, it makes little sense to avoid the damage caused by fire if the very system designed to prevent it also causes you a headache. Water damage can be slightly less dangerous, but it might still be costly. If you are wondering why your fire sprinkler is leaking, you’ll find the answer here. We go through some common reasons for your fire sprinkler leaking and also how you might go about repairing them.
Fire Sprinkler Leaks | Top 6 Causes
There are a few reasons why your fire sprinkler may leak. Some might be caused by human error, whereas others are just a natural process, particularly with older systems. Here’s our list of the most common cause of fire sprinkler leaking.
Corrosion is a natural process that can affect many alloys. The problem with fire sprinklers is that the pipes, joints, and ducting are under constant pressure from the water.
Furthermore, the water in sprinklers, especially in a closed system, can turn really dirty over time as minerals and deposits leach into the water. Even a small drip can start to make a real mess, especially on furnishing and stock.
Corrosion isn’t purely a cosmetic problem either, or one that needs to be thought about only because of water damage. Corrosion can actually prevent your sprinkler system from working properly. Meaning double trouble.
Incorrect Initial Fitting
Often, the first sign of a sprinkler system not operating optimally is when it is very first activated. During an active fire is not the time to find that it isn’t working properly.
The main cause of this?
Incorrect fitting from the outset. This can be particularly relevant if you have inherited a sprinkler system from your building’s previous occupants.
If you have a leak, you can actually be thankful, as it shows that your sprinkler system is in desperate need of some TLC.
Now is the time to rectify it without delay.
Sprinkler systems can actually be pretty fragile equipment. It doesn’t take much for them to spring a leak. Damage can happen in many ways. Whether somebody has hit a pipe, duct, or sprinkler head while not paying attention or someone has considered a pipe the perfect place to hang something, there are plenty of ways in which a sprinkler system can become damaged…
And subsequently, leak.
Damage isn’t always obvious easier. There are cases where light maintenance work, such as painting walls, has revealed that sprinkler heads and sensors have been painted over, leading to a dangerous situation.
If your building is in a colder climate, then this one is a significant risk for several reasons.
When water freezes, it expands by almost 10%. This can cause pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to burst under pressure. If it is still cold, then there is a good chance that you might not notice this until the weather warms up!
Not only will you be left with an expensive repair bill come summer, but while the pipes are frozen, you aren’t protected from a fire at all.
If your sprinkler system is in an area where it can freeze, you are getting the worst of both worlds!
Thankfully, this is relatively rare, but if you have a sprinkler leak, this could be a cause.
Many building owners try to reduce costs by fitting a cheaper sprinkler system (which is a false economy considering the worst potential outcomes). As a result, you’ll find that the parts and tolerances are sub-standard compared to some better quality systems.
Eventually, perhaps combined with some of the above factors, the sprinkler system starts to leak.
You’ll often find loose valves and joins can be tightened with a wrench.
However, you mustn’t perform maintenance on your sprinkler system unless you are sure of what you are doing.
Speaking of maintenance, it is a sad but true fact that some company’s use substandard practices when overhauling systems. By the time you figure out that the work wasn’t as thorough as you would like, they are long gone.
The answer, in this case, is to always ensure that your fire sprinkler system is always maintained using a reliable fire protection service.
How to Repair Leaks in my Sprinkler System
Quite simply put, the best way to ensure that your sprinkler remains leak-free is to hire a professional.
While DIY might seem like the most cost-effective option, you could damage the system further, or even worse, stop it from working completely. Assess the cost of the repair that went wrong before deciding to try anything yourself.
It is possible in certain circumstances, use things such as PTFE tape to prevent leaks from joints, but this also means isolating the system and ensuring that it is in full working order to comply with your building’s fire codes.
What’s more, and as we alluded to above, sprinkler water is rarely like the water that emerges from your faucet. In fact, and especially if you have an older system, it generally tends to be pretty dirty. One turn of a valve the wrong way, and anything beneath is almost certainly going to be rendered ruined and unusable.
So, what’s the answer?
A professional fire protection company, such as Fraker Fire Inc. Will be able to offer you expert advice and guidance. Fraker Fire offers fire protection consulting as one of its key services. This, combined with the ability to inspect your sprinkler system in person, makes us the ideal choice if your fire sprinkler has sprung a leak.
Fraker fire also offers replacement sprinkler systems. So, if you believe your current system is not up to the task or are considering a complete overhaul, we have the skills and technical experience to make this a reality. Why not contact Fraker Fire today to discuss your issue.