Loaded and Corroded Fire Sprinklers

Integrated Fire SystemsFire Sprinkler News

Is it Time for Your Fire Sprinklers to Be Replaced?

Certified Technicians inspect Fire Sprinkler Systems on a regular basis to ensure that they are constantly in working order. If fire sprinkler heads are loaded or corroded they are at a high risk for malfunctioning.

NFPA 5.2.1.1.4 says that, “any sprinkler shall be replaced that has signs of leakage; is painted, other than by the sprinkler manufacturer, corroded, damaged, or loaded; or is in the improper orientation.” So what does this mean?

What is a Loaded Fire Sprinkler?

A loaded fire sprinkler is packed with dust and debris. Generally, loading will increase response time due to its insulating effect on the release mechanism. This can be extremely dangerous in the event of a fire because each fire sprinkler is set off by a specific temperature. If the sprinkler is loaded, the insulation will create a barrier between the heat and the sprinkler. This means that the fire sprinkler will be delayed in reaching the set off temperature.

What is a Corroded Fire Sprinkler?

When it comes to fire sprinklers there are two types of corrosion: internal and external.

With internal corrosion a fire sprinkler becomes corroded when the water inside the pipe becomes oxygenated. This corrosion can wreak havoc on your system. It can hold the water seal or release mechanism together longer than desired. It can even, in some cases, prevent release entirely.

With external corrosion, certain environments can also be more corrosive than others. To help prevent corrosion in these environments, different sprinkler finishes are available from sprinkler manufacturers that may increase corrosion resistance.  Generally, your ordinary brass sprinkler is the worst option to be used in a corrosive environment. Chrome fire sprinklers are only slightly better.  For corrosive environments, various wax coated sprinklers or even stainless steel designs are best.  Even though these wax coated and stainless steel fire sprinklers help prevent corrosion, there are no fire sprinklers that are corrosion proof.

How Can Loaded and Corroded Fire Sprinklers be Fixed?

When it comes to loaded fire sprinklers, they can often be cleaned instead of replaced. Section A.5.2.1.1 of the 2017 Edition of NFPA 25 states, “In lieu of replacing sprinklers that are loaded with a coating of dust, it is permitted to clean sprinklers with compressed air or a vacuum, provided that the equipment does not touch the sprinkler.”  This is option can save some building owners from costly replacements.  However, if the loading is removed by other methods not listed, for example using some sort of brush that physically touches the release mechanism, it is possible to damage the sprinkler (or even activate it) so please be careful.

Corroded fire sprinklers cannot be cleaned and therefore need to be replaced. Since corrosion will eventually bind the releasing mechanisms both internally and externally it is highly advisable that all corroded fire sprinklers get replaced ASAP.

Here at IFS we want to make sure that your fire sprinkler system is always in proper working order. If you have any questions about loaded and corroded fire sprinkler systems please give us a call at 888-987-5322.

-The IFS Team