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Dry Sprinkler Systems: Is It Time to Update?

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Dry sprinkler systems are specifically designed to work in areas that are susceptible to freezing (under 40° F). An air or nitrogen compressor maintains pressure in the system until a head activates, causing the system pressure to drop and activate the valve to flow water and suppress/extinguish a fire.

These systems work incredibly well when installed and maintained properly. We can help with maintenance and updates to your system to ensure you have the best possible system in place. Continue reading for information on warning signs, common issues, and updates that are available from your Ahern representative.

Potential warning signs for your dry pipe system:

  • Continual patching or replacement of sections of pipe
    • Possibly due to corrosion/oxidation through pipe wall
  • Compressor continually running to maintain air pressure in the system
    • Possibly due to system leakage/holes

Common issues that lead to system failure:

  • Water freezing because of poor drainage
    • Inadequate pipe slope for a dry system
    • Too few drains provided
    • Inadequate system winterization maintenance
  • Wet systems improperly converted to dry systems
    • Pendent sprinklers not converted to uprights
    • Pipe slopes not revised for dry system requirements
    • Greater needs of a dry system not taken into account when converted

Possible updates to reduce or eliminate these issues:

  • Verify the system is hydraulically designed for the hazard level
  • Pitch the pipe to the correct slope for dry systems
  • Install low-point drains for appropriate drainage requirements
  • Install a nitrogen generator to avoid system corrosion

So, what is our procedure to help with dry system troubles?

First, we’ll identify the system's problematic areas to determine whether an entire pipe replacement is necessary or if a more localized approach is adequate.

Then, we’ll establish parameters for pipe replacement. It is possible to replace entire parts and pieces of a system in an effort to mitigate the overall cost to the owners. For example, if the system branch lines have incurred the greatest amount of damage, it may make sense to replace the branch lines only and not the system mains or vice versa.

Once parameters for pipe replacement have been set, the Ahern design team will survey and confirm sizing, pipe locations, head types, etc. This information will give the Ahern estimating team the opportunity to generate a more exact quote based on existing site conditions. During this stage, the Ahern sales team will work with the ownership team to determine which costs are necessary and which costs are not. Pricing can be broken out based on feedback from the ownership group. Base pricing would include any necessary replacement costs, with add/alternate pricing to include any upgrades/items that are not integral to increasing the longevity of the system. At this stage of the process, the sales team will also work through phasing plans with ownership to help minimize disruptions in the building and overall downtime of the sprinkler system.

Contact Ahern today! We want to help you have the best possible system to save lives, improve the environment, and ensure personal comfort and well-being.