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Never Put Up With Rusted Fire Sprinklers Again!

“Corrosive fire sprinkler on the balcony of one of our GC clients”

Keeping Your Building's Fire Sprinklers From Rusting - Avoid The Catastrophic Damage!

You’re a building manager or owner conscious of upholding the fire safety requirements for your building and ensuring the safety of the occupants.

You’ve great relationship with your fire safety provider who you’ve put trust in installing or maintaining a fire sprinkler system that fits your tight budget as a result of the overall rising costs for your building maintenance.

You even planned for this significant investment to last you a good number years especially if your building and the sprinkler system is relatively new.

One thing that you cannot plan for or maybe even we’re not properly advised on is the consequences of the environment that we find ourselves in as a coastal city.

At Advance Fire, a lot of our new clients are coming to us experiencing ongoing issues that present itself with their sprinklers heads open to the forces of nature with the constant exposure to salt spray.

Many buildings, even those that are relatively new, have major corrosion issues with their sprinkler heads. When the corrosion is severe enough, the sprinkler heads can rupture and cause extensive damage to the building.

“No need to despair though”

Thanks to technology, we now have non-corrosive sprinkler heads that meet FM and Australian standards. The sprinklers cost more, but they last longer and require less maintenance.

Sprinklers that resist corrosion are designed to withstand external elements that attack standard brass sprinklers. There are two types of corrosion-resistant sprinklers: coatings or corrosion-resistant materials.

In corrosive conditions, a sprinkler’s corrosion resistance is typically determined by the conditions it will encounter during its lifetime

Furthermore, black or galvanised steel usually accelerates corrosion if mixed with copper. The electrolyte (water) present can also exacerbate this, especially sea water (sodium chloride) or hard water (high dissolved calcium and magnesium levels).

As shown in the table below there is a variety sprinklers depending on the corrosion resistance spectrum required;
Click to enlarge the image
“ Our Client’s Rusty Fire Sprinkler ”

Do your fire sprinkler pipes have hidden corrosion?

Now if your sprinkler heads are showing signs of corrosion, there is a fair chance that the pipes connected to it might also be rusting on the inside.

This means that the code requirement of checking piping interiors every five years may not be enough. However, there are actions you can take to prevent corrosion issues in your sprinkler systems.

As you look at your own system, you might find that if you are able to locate areas of corrosion before they become major problems, you can replace the problem areas instead of the entire system.

But since these problems often persist, the answer may be in solutions like nitrogen supplies or water treatment.

AS1851 – Routine Servicing of Fire Protection Systems and Equipment does not specify any specific requirements for corrosion damage on fire protection systems. Still, there are certain tests that can identify the potential for corrosion damage and further mitigation strategies.
Among them;
  • Ensure that the pipe supports of the fire protection system are in good condition and checking and cleaning of in-line strainers for evidence of corrosion.
  • Ensure water supply stop valves, including backflow prevention stop valves, are fully open, in the open position (relaxed 1*4 turn if needed) and correctly labelled as indicated on the valve list. Using this method helps loosen any corrosion that may have built up in the past;
  • Water supply proving test to verify the fire protection system has not been adversely affected, typically due to a partially closed valve or debris accumulation within the water supply.
  • Verify that the low pressure side pressure readings are within the range specified at the pressure-reducing valve station and pressure gauge schedule. The pressure gauge could change if corrosion builds up
  • Make sure all pressure switches and flow switches are in good working order and that the covers are correctly labelled, securely mounted, and free of any adverse conditions.
Don’t hesitate to schedule your fire system maintenance check and avoid the perils of rusting of your sprinkler system.