If the climate you operate in could cause your property’s water pipes to freeze, these sprinkler systems are an effective solution. Unlike the wet pipe system which stores water in the pipes, this system stores pressurised air or nitrogen that is used to activate the sprinkler head valves on detection of a fire. This then triggers the quick release of water into the pipes - ready to extinguish the flames like a traditional sprinkler.
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While this system is highly advantageous and required in terms of automatic protection in any area where freezing is possible, there are some myths about the dry pipe system that should be addressed.
These systems are complex. They need extra air pressure supply components and additional control equipment, which increases overall dry pipe sprinkler system maintenance and installation cost. Not to mention, without proper, regular maintenance this equipment may be less reliable than an equivalent wet pipe system.
While these systems may be the only sprinkler solution for cold climates, they come with a set of caveats. Firstly, due to the nature of dry pipe sprinkler systems, up to 60 seconds may pass between the time a fire is detected and the time that water is discharged. Secondly, if the system is activated, all dry pipes must be completely drained and dried, otherwise the remaining water may cause corrosion. Also, there are strict guidelines regarding the maximum scope of these systems, which may prevent building owners and managers from making additions to these systems.
Some people believe that a physically damaged wet pipe system will leak while a dry system will not. This is false, and the only difference is that damaged dry pipe sprinkler systems will leak after the aforementioned delay period of up to 60 seconds.
If you're looking for a fire safety solution in unheated building spaces such as warehouses or attics, commercial freezer rooms, or outside spaces in cool climates such as exposed loading docks: dry systems are one of the only solutions, drawbacks aside.
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