Almost every state in the country has been experiencing below freezing weather this year. The mid-west and northeast states have been hit hard by the freezing weather. These states are used to this type of winter weather. The southern states, such as Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are normally immune to the long periods of freezing weather. Not so during the winter of 2010 and 2011.
A freeze up condition of your sprinkler system can cause an obstruction that will prevent the sprinkler system from working properly. The sprinkler piping could also burst and cause extensive water damage to your building and contents.
The following are a few precautions you can take to help prevent the freezing of water-based sprinkler systems:
- Make sure the areas of the building with a wet pipe sprinkler system are heated above 40F and well insulated.
- All electrical conduit, air handling ductwork and telecommunication lines that penetrate heated areas from unheated areas should be insulated to prevent air transfer between spaces.
- Check for damaged or missing insulation in attic areas. If the attic sprinkler system is a wet pipe system the attic should be provided with a reliable source of heat.
- Normally unheated attic areas are protected by a dry pipe system. Dry pipe systems can also freeze if there is a low point in the piping within the unheated attic area. The pitch of the dry pipe system should be checked to make sure that water is not trapped in the sprinkler pipes.
- Your sprinkler system should be inspected and tested by a qualified sprinkler contractor on a regular basis.
You can obtaining additional information regarding the water-based fire protection systems maintenance and testing standards at www.nfpa.org.
Thomas Russell is a Senior Risk Control Representative with Westfield Insurance. He has over 30 years experience in the insurance industry.