How Do Fire Sprinkler Systems Work?

Nothing is more effective at protecting your New Jersey or Delaware building than a fire sprinkler system. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fully sprinklered buildings experience 60 percent less property damage from fires than buildings without them.

Before you install fire sprinklers, you might be wondering how they work. While different types of systems operate in slightly different ways, here’s a look at the fundamentals of how fire sprinklers work.

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Detecting the Heat

It’s a common misconception that sprinklers are set off by smoke. Fortunately, this isn’t the case, since you would run the risk of dousing your kitchen with water every time you burned toast.

Instead, sprinkler heads activate when heat rises from the fire below. This warms up the glycerin-based liquid inside a tiny glass bulb found in all sprinkler heads. This bulb acts as a stopper to prevent water from flowing out.

When the heat created by a fire reaches a temperature of 135 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the liquid expands and the bulb shatters, which opens a valve and releases water from the sprinkler head. The exact temperature depends on whether the system features standard or quick response sprinkler heads.

Dousing the Flames

Every sprinkler head in a building is attached to a pipe that connects to a reliable water source. When the bulb breaks and the water begins to flow, the speed at which the water exits the sprinkler head depends on the type of system installed.

In wet pipe fire sprinklers, water is stored under pressure throughout the pipes, so when the sprinkler head opens, water dispenses immediately onto the fire below. However, dry pipe fire sprinklers are better suited for areas where the pipes could be subject to freezing temperatures. In this system, the pipes are filled with pressurized air or nitrogen gas. Then, when a sprinkler head activates, the gas flows out, making room for water to flow into the pipes and out of the sprinkler head.

Minimizing Water Damage

In movies, sprinkler heads are often shown going off at the same time. This is very misleading because, in real life, sprinkler heads are individual units that activate one at a time. In other words, a sprinkler will only open if high heat from a fire sets it off. This way, you don’t have to trade fire damage for water damage.

Pre-action fire sprinklers are especially good at minimizing water damage because they require a two-stage trigger to activate. This is ideal anywhere water damage would be highly detrimental.

Deluge fire sprinklers are the exception to the rule. These active all at once in response to a special fire alarm. Such aggressive fire-fighting action is best suited for places with hazardous chemicals where water damage isn’t a concern.

Schedule Fire Sprinkler Services in New Jersey & Delaware

To request a fire sprinkler installation estimate or schedule other fire protection services in Trenton, Wilmington, or the surrounding areas, please contact Confires today!