What is the Domestic Sprinkler System?
Thousands of people lose their lives and properties to house fires every year. Research results have highlighted these damages in the last few years. The damages fire cause to life and properties cannot be exaggerated. It can be huge!
Little wonder, an annual service of a water sprinkler system is a legal requirement. Though a water sprinkler system is supposed to be a life-saving investment, it’s not a thing many homeowners consider until the worst happens.
Yet, catching fire outbreak in time has proven to be the best way to save a life, minimise property loss, and generally reduce the devastating effects of fire outbreak.
Without doubt, those are what a water sprinkler system will do for you. That is why fire incidents successfully limited and controlled by fire sprinklers don’t make the news.
Therefore, installing and regular servicing your fire sprinkler system is not negotiable. It has proven its success across the world for many decades now. The reason most people hesitate in their decision to install the system is because of widespread misconceptions.
The belief that the system can misfire and that a room fire activates the entire system are misconceptions many believe. It is based on how Hollywood consistently paints misfire occurrences. But, in reality, the chance of a sprinkler misfire happening is low.
A sprinkler system properly designed, installed, and maintained will not take off suddenly, and it only triggers the system in the room where it’s needed. That’s why you need to get the best professionals to handle the process of installing and maintenance of the system.
How Fire Sprinklers Work?
One of the questions that come to the mind after deciding to install a fire sprinkler system is, how does it work? While that should be a professional concern, it isn’t harmful to satisfy your curiosity as well. Knowing how it works is an excellent way to build confidence in the system.
Though there are different types of a home sprinkler system, they are all designed to fulfil the same purpose. The purpose is to save lives over properties which led to the development of guidelines requiring that every home should have at least 10 minutes of water storage to supply the system.
Therefore, all types of system will have pressure spec and specific water flow to meet up to the requirement. The following combination of factors is the pivot upon which the system stands.
- The size of your building,
- The length of pipes, and
- The number of sprinkler heads that will provide the minimum water coverage throughout the building
- The type of pipes used
- The water source
The larger and taller the building, the bigger the sprinkler system you’ll need to install
Manufacturers use different types of materials to make fire sprinkler pipes. They also make them in various sizes. The types of materials used must be one which would not quickly melt at the touch of fire or heat. The dimensions of the pies will also determine the amount of water you need to have in store.
The source from which water is supplied to the system has to have enough pressure to meet the flow requirements. If not, you’ll need to attach a pump.
Also, every system relies on a pipe network that usually runs vertically, through the wall, and horizontally, through the ceiling. At different intervals, sprinkler head joins to the pipe to deliver water, generally from the ceiling, but sometimes from the room’s wall.
A trained contractor knows where it’s best to place the sprinkler head and the sufficient number of sprinkler required for each room. Contractors usually place sprinklers at about 8ft apart. It might be less in exceptional cases, depending on the room utility and size.
A vast majority of homes uses the “wet” system sprinkler. The system retains water within the network pipes that feed the system, ready to dispense at any trigger. The way the system works is quite simple, effective, and reliable. It explains why the system is in use for many decades now.
The sprinkler head serves as the stopper that prevents the flow of water within the pipe network. It also serves as the controller for when water needs to be sprinkled in case of fire incidents.
Each sprinkler head has a trigger that is either a metal link soldered together or a glass tube having heat-sensitive liquid in it. When a fire starts with a room, the heat moves towards the room’s ceiling. When the temperature around the sprinkler reaches a certain level, it causes either the metal link to melt or the liquid expand within the glass, causing it to break.
Once that happens, the concealed water becomes released, causing a free flow. The sprinkler head also has a small wheel at the end. When water hits the small wheel, it causes water to fan across the room.
The process is simple and effective because there’s no need for electricity, computer, or any other complex trigger. It’s a mechanical heat-activated system. It eliminates false alarms as you have in smoke detectors, and it limits the sprinkling only to the affected room.
Types of Sprinkler System
While there are several domestic sprinkler system designs, there are only two significant types of a sprinkler system, namely the; standalone and multipurpose.
1. Standalone Fire Sprinkler System
It is called the standalone system because it uses a separate piping system from the piping used for the home plumbing system.
The sprinkler system can, however, draw from the same water source as that of the home overall plumbing system. At the same time, it can also own its separate source.
The standalone system can have complicated installation and maintenance requirements due to the variety of materials required. However, they work well in an area without adequate pressurised water supply. That’s the significant advantages of the system.
2. Multipurpose Fire Sprinkler System
This system integrates with the home plumbing system. It feeds off of the same water source as that of the one used for the building plumbing service.
Because this system uses the same pipe used for the building plumbing service, there’s a reduction in the cost of installation and complexity of the system. It also requires less maintenance and more reliable.
Homeowners will most likely know when there’s a problem within the system as such issues will most likely affect the home plumbing system as well.
Building owners looking to retrofit sprinkler system will not find the multipurpose system as the best option. That’s because this system requires careful planning of the hydraulic system to account for water pressure.
The diameters of piping, size of the system, and several other parameters have to meet the flow requirement.
Finding a Fire Sprinkler Contractor in the UK
Choosing a qualified contractor who will install or retrofit a sprinkler system is the most challenging aspect of the process.
A competent person has to carry out the installation process to meet the British Standard for fire sprinkler service. The installation process may not be more complicated than fixing the plumbing pipes of the house.
However, the contractor has the expertise needed to design the hydraulic system to ensure free flow and adequate pressure. An experienced professional knows how to calculate and determine the required parameters and parts of the system.
He then creates a scale drawing and prepares the document to submit to the local authorities for approval. After reviewing the report, the local authorities give the permit for installation or renovation.
Therefore, the contractor must be one who knows the local and state codes needed to get installation or renovation permit. Besides, there’s a need to carry out a personal risk assessment to know and understand any potential for accidents and how to guide against it.
The bottom line is that a knowledgeable local contractor will put into consideration and give an account of these requirements when designing a sprinkler system.
Finally, choose a contractor who you feel comfortable with. Choose someone willing to provide answers to your questions and can communicate with you about the entire process. Also, interact with them in return.
Tell the contractor about any intention you have or planned changes to the building and let them offer professional advice on how to go about it, especially in terms of a retrofit.
For instance, if you intend to install a wall cabinet or knock out a wall, this future development may interfere with the proposed spot for a sprinkler system. It may compromise water coverage. You will need to communicate your intentions with the contractor to make things easier.
A good contractor will appreciate such communication and look into better ways to go about the project without hindering your intended development. He will also work to minimise the disruption process, and plan alongside, indicating the progress in his drawing to ensure you get the required local permit.
If you’ve decided to install a domestic fire sprinkler or service the one you already have, then you’ve made a great choice. The system is invaluable as its design is to give you enough time to escape in case of fire outbreak.
Statistics says the system has reduced residential fire death by 81% while it reduced loss of property by 51%. That’s a laudable success as its primary purpose is to save lives over properties.