Exploring New Home Construction

How To Keep Your Fire Suppression Sprinkler System Ready To Go At All Times

If you own a residential sprinkler system, then you have made a wise decision. Fewer than 1 in 20 American homes are fitted with residential fire sprinklers, but those that do have them are much less likely to suffer serious damage and injury in the event of a fire. However, homeowners with sprinklers have a responsibility to keep their systems in a ready-state if they want them to be operable when fire strikes. Below are a few important things to keep in mind so that your sprinkler system won't fail in time of need:

Don't place objects in close proximity to sprinkler heads

Sprinkler heads can be mounted on ceilings and walls, depending upon the particular location in your home and the floor plan. Ceiling-mounted sprinklers are carefully designed to emit a specific pattern of water based on their type; pendant sprinkler heads aim a circular spray straight down, while upright heads project their water spray up and bounce it off the ceiling. Both types are adequate for protecting the space beneath, though upright heads are sometimes specifically used if the ceiling is constructed from flammable materials.

Whatever type you may have, it is vital that you don't obstruct the spray pattern by placing furniture near the sprinkler heads. Large objects such as entertainment centers, armoires and high bookshelves are particularly prone to blocking sprinklers. Even smaller objects, such as hanging light fixtures, can prevent sprinklers from working adequately if they are too close. In general, keep objects no less than 3 feet away from sprinkler heads to permit adequate coverage.

Remember that sprinkler heads are fragile

By design, sprinkler heads are made to contain easily-broken elements that permit the water to flow. Whether it's a glass expansion tube or a fusible link, which consists of a metal that melts at a specific temperature, the connection between the sprinkler head valve and the spray head can break if moved or jostled. That's why you should keep children and pets away from accessible heads, as well as never hang any objects such as decorations or clothes hangers from them. Be careful when working or painting in close proximity to sprinkler heads so that you don't strike them with a ladder or tool.

You should always know where the main sprinkler system valve is located in your home in case of an accidental release from a broken head. If you keep the valve secured with a padlock, then be sure to keep an extra key nearby so you aren't scrambling to find it.

Keep sprinkler heads in their original configuration

Some older sprinkler heads may stand out due to their conspicuous design, and homeowners are often tempted to disguise them by using paint or some other means of camouflage. However, painting a sprinkler head may interfere with its operation; it can prevent the heat-sensing expansion glass tube or fusible link from properly deploying. A painted head is likely to be more insulated from heat, and that's the last thing you want when a fire happens. In addition, paint may block the small spray nozzles and prevent the water from spraying in its predetermined pattern.

Another way to negatively alter your sprinkler system is by removing sprinkler heads from your ceiling. Each head is designed to operate with a specific water pressure rating, and removing them increases the water pressure in the remaining heads. This can cause the water spray to be deformed. In addition, each sprinkler head has been purposely placed to provide continuous coverage. By removing a head, you are creating a blind zone for your system; this can make parts of your home vulnerable to fire.

If you aren't happy with the aesthetics of your sprinkler heads, the best option is to contact a local sprinkler installation specialist. They can provide you with updated heads that are attractive and less noticeable.