At power plants, dry pipe fire sprinkler systems can be found in outdoor or unheated areas of the power plant like transfer stations, crusher buildings, and conveyors. To protect the fire sprinkler from freezing in cold months, plants should complete cold weather maintenance and inspections.
Dry-pipe fire sprinklers need to be pitched just right to avoid sitting water during tests. If water sits in the pipe, the results are micro-biologically influenced corrosion (MIC), pipe scale, or ice. During the cold months, ice forming in pipes is a real problem.
The water that sits in the dry-pipe will freeze and expand by 10%. Once it warms up, the expanded ice melts and reveals micro-cracks. The cracks will change the air pressure, causing the valve to trip. The pipes will fill with water and the small crack will begin to leak and enlarge until it is gushing.
How do you avoid frozen fire sprinkler pipes?
1. Schedule due diligence inspections
This inspection should be scheduled before it gets too cold. The inspector will ensure that the pipe is pitched perfectly. If it isn't, they will re-pitch the pipe and install drum drips.
Drum drips will need to be drained weekly to ensure sitting water is removed. Even a perfectly pitched dry-pipe fire sprinkler can get some sitting water. Draining drum drips is essential.
3. Complete trip tests on time
Dry-pipe fire sprinklers need to be tested regularly. Because of the environment that these systems are in, the obstruction mentioned above - MIC, scaling, and ice - can be a real issue. Dry-pipe fire sprinklers should have a trip test conducted every 3 years.
Keep power plants protected year round by maintaining your dry-pipe fire sprinklers. Freezing fire sprinkler pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage, but can be easily avoidable. When winter is approaching, schedule due diligence inspections, drain drum drips weekly, and test your dry-pipe fire sprinklers on time.