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What Sets Off Fire Sprinklers?

Automatic fire prevention sprinklers are the first line of defence against a blaze. When fire sprinkler systems are activated, a heat-sensitive trigger is activated in the sprinkler closest to the fire. This causes water to be applied to the area which will hold back or normally extinguish the fire. If one sprinkler head fails to extinguish the fire, the adjacent head will activate as the temperature continues to rise. If a fire sprinkler system has a false activation, this could result in costly water damage. This is why the maintenance of such fire suppression systems is integral, fire sprinklers have been known to activate due to a number of causes, but also by accident.

In this article, we’ll examine the core reasons behind exactly what sets off fire sprinklers, as well as the most common reasons for accidental propulsions and system leaks. We’ll also consider how important servicing is for the correct function of any sprinkler system.


What sets off fire sprinklers?

Fire sprinkler systems are intricate, to say the least. They are sophisticated designs that are heat sensitive, and only activate when temperatures rise to fire-induced temperatures.

Can smoke set off a fire sprinkler system?

Smoke will never cause a fire sprinkler to activate.

This is because fire sprinklers are designed to activate only to heat and not smoke. Early-warning systems such as smoke detectors are put in place to provide an audible signal to homeowners of a sudden smoke source.


Overheating Causes Fire Sprinklers to Activate

Automatic sprinklers can be triggered by temperature increases in areas like lofts and conservatories in residential situations. When this happens, it means that the sprinkler can’t tell the difference between ordinary heat sources and heat caused by a fire.

Installing fire sprinkler systems close to heaters, cooking equipment or skylights can result in an accidental activation.

What temperature sets off fire sprinklers?

Residential fire sprinklers are usually triggered when the temperature rises to 56 degrees Celsius and above. In warehouse and commercial complexes, sprinklers typically go off after the temperature hits 63 degrees Celsius. Sprinklers can be installed with higher temperature sensitivity if required.

In order to prevent accidental discharge, it is important to ensure that heating devices are kept as far as possible from the installed fire sprinkler. Likewise, if new heat sources are installed within a building, fire sprinklers could also need to be adjusted.


Freezing Temperatures Can Cause Sprinkler Systems to Leak

Most installations feature a wet pipe system, which you can imagine is filled with water. If even the smallest portion of this system is exposed to freezing temperatures, ice can form in the piping.

When the water freezes it can expand by around 10 percent, which causes an immense pressure on the pipe fittings that can break, crack and force valves open.

When the temperature eventually rises and the ice melts, the damaged pipework and fittings can then start leaking or, worse still, the pipes may burst and flood the area.

The solution?

Wet sprinkler systems are installed within the heated area of the building. However, if part of the system runs outside the building, then electric trace
heating can be used.


System Manufacturing, Defects and Mechanical Damage

Damaged and defective fire sprinkles occasionally find their way into installations, and it is normally because of damage that occurs during or after they are produced. The faster the response time on a sprinkler system, the more prone they are to sustaining damage during the shipping and installation process. This is because the fittings heighten their sensitivity which results in them becoming a lot more fragile.

Carrying out regular inspections and testing the system’s operative capability to see if there is any damage are among the best ways to identify system damage and ultimately prevent any potential problems.

Mechanical damage is common for setting fire sprinklers off through accidental discharges. Mechanical damage can be sustained through something as simple as tightening a valve or sprinkler head too tight.


Shutguns; What are they and what do they do?

These inexpensive devices can seal openings in an activated or damaged fire sprinkler, which can stop the source of water flow. They also include a heat-sensitive element that falls away when exposed to high temperatures, a function that allows sprinkler heads to function correctly in the case of a fire.


Contact Us

If you have an installation of fire precaution methods in your property, it is vital that everything is in working order to prevent catastrophic consequences such as property loss or worse, the loss of life.

If you require more information on fire suppression systems or testing existing fire sprinkler installations, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at RAD Fire Sprinklers, your safety is our highest priority.

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
Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9NY

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Tel: 01892 680 090

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