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What Sets Off a Sprinkler System: Can They Go Off Accidentally?

sprinkler system on ceiling

The simple answer is no. No matter what the movies have told us, it is much harder to accidentally set off a fire sprinkler system than you’d think. Most residential sprinkler systems are heat-responsive, designed to activate once a blaze of over 56°C is detected; with the closest sprinkler head releasing the right amount of water to deal with the incident. Only if this doesn’t suppress the fire and heat is still detected, will the rest of the system release water.

So what exactly sets off a sprinkler system? We are here to separate the facts from the fiction, letting you know the main reasons and making sure you’re aware of the risks.



The main myth. Smoke will never cause a fire sprinkler system to activate. For functioning homes, you can’t really avoid smoke; from cooking your favourite meal to blowing out candles on birthdays. But alas, you can shake off any anxieties you may have that your house will be full of water for your next fry-up.

As aforementioned, automatic sprinkler systems are activated by heat and not smoke. Systems such as smoke detectors instead are used for warning homeowners of potential risks; emitting a loud signal. In general, if you have a sprinkler system, you are not required to have smoke detectors. A sprinkler system will suppress fires quickly and efficiently, making both fire protection systems unnecessary.



Candles can change a home; making your living areas calmer and soothing after a long day of work. They allow you to relax and take a breath in the comfort of your own surroundings. But will they cause your fire sprinkler system to go off?

Again, no. If you light candles around your living room, this won’t produce enough heat to set off the adjacent sprinkler head (usually 56°C). Only when a candle is held directly underneath the system will it release water. So maybe don’t do that. Even if it is accidentally held underneath, it takes a while for it to be detected; allowing you to fully sit back and relax, surrounded by your favourite smells. This is the same for other products, such as incense sticks and wax burners.



Now for some facts. Temperature does have an effect on residential sprinkler systems, as this is the main function and why they are one of the safest fire suppression methods. These water mist systems automatically deal with any emergencies, dealing with the blaze efficiently and quickly.

However, in areas such as lofts and conservatories, that overheat quicker, sprinkler heads may not be able to tell the difference between the natural temperature of the room and a potential fire risk. Make sure your sprinklers are not located near heaters, skylights or other areas of high heat. For more information on how to properly install water mist systems in loft conversions, click here.

Also, if the pipes connected to the sprinkler system freeze in the winter months, this potentially could lead to water being released. The ice would produce pressure built in the pipe and when it eventually thaws, the build-up could set off the heads. There are many ways to combat this. You should work with a professional sprinkler installation company to discuss these risks and find out how to make sure your system is safe all year long.


Can Residential Sprinkler Systems Go Off Accidentally?

In short, yes. Residential sprinkler systems follow simple rules; they go off when the temperature reaches over 56°C. So if you have poor ventilation, or the sun is beaming directly into your windows, there is a small chance this could trick the system and accidentally go off. However, this possibility is minute. The probability of this is around 16 million to one; meaning you are more likely to get struck by lightning or win the lottery.


Our Services

RAD Fire Sprinklers aim to correctly inform our customers on the current fire regulations and how to implement safety precautions in homes across the UK. Based in London and the South East area, we offer a range of services that includes designing and installing bespoke domestic sprinkler systems in buildings such as care homes and high-rise complexes.To receive a quote or advice on your new sprinkler system, fill in our online form and a member of our team will be in contact. Or, why not follow us on Twitter and find out the latest fire safety tips on a weekly basis? 

Mist system was a great solution for our renovation needs and them team at RAD have been great. Always communicated clearly and been on hand to discuss over the phone as needed. Would highly recommend!
09:32 17 Jul 22
I have used RAD for a couple of projects and found them to be good to deal with. They did a pair of 3 storey open plan houses and seven three and four story town houses. The sprinklers were to improve fire safety, allow more flexible space and comply with building regulations. The sprinklers were far more cost effective than the mist type systems and look very discrete when installed.
Paul Jeary
15:50 11 Jul 22
It has been a pleasure to deal with RAD for installation of fire sprinklers at our site is Sevenoaks. They were fast, professional, working to time and quote, which made it easy to work with them.
Katrina Horobin
12:03 29 Jun 22
My requirement was a bit unusual for RAD in that I wanted a mist system in one room of a rented house. I had no drawings or technical back up. RAD were very helpful and repositioned the unit after the initial installation. Luckily with the help of Sonny, the engineer it all worked out very well.
Simon Gurney
16:16 12 May 22
I have used RAD for the last 10 years for all of my housing developments in need of a sprinkler system. Easy process from start to finish and no issues or problems throughout. Always someone at hand to answer a querie and we have a great working relationship with the team at RAD. Would highly recommend.
15:33 12 May 22
Diligent & a very professional team. A joy to deal with. Will certainly be calling on them to help with many more future schemes.
Jason Tema
22:17 08 Jul 19
Great team, fitting sprinklers, saving lives & property... What more could you wish for!!!
Colin P
17:53 01 Jul 17
Excellent company & great service... This company rocks! They sprinkle fires & save lives!!!
Music N Videoz
07:15 16 Dec 16
As somebody who feels that it should be a necessity for all properties to have fire sprinkler systems, I am a big fan of this company. I have used them numerous times to service my home system and they are very knowledgeable. I would highly recommend their service.
Kate Fraser
09:25 30 Mar 15
One look at Rad Fire Sprinkler's website will tell you that these guys know exactly what they are talking about when it comes to Fire Sprinklers and the legislation surrounding fire safety. A very trustworthy company.
Adam Hudson
16:45 15 Nov 13

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RAD Fire Sprinklers Ltd.
58A St John’s Road
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