Fire sprinklers can be found in many office buildings, apartments, and public areas, yet we often overlook their significance. Why are many people not too concerned about the absence of fire sprinklers in the most crucial place: our own homes? Do we at least ask ourselves, "How does a home fire sprinkler system work?"
Investing in a home fire sprinkler system is a well-known method for safeguarding lives, lessening injuries, and decreasing the severity of property damage.
Today's household items catch fire at higher temperatures, burn faster, and release more dangerous fumes. It can lead to deadly situations within two minutes of a smoke or fire alarm. Sadly, it sometimes takes firefighters up to 10 minutes to reach the location. During this delay, fires can result in permanent damage.
How Does A Home Fire Sprinkler System Work?
A residential sprinkler system has sprinkler heads linked by water pipes within a house. When the temperature climbs to a range of 135 to 165 degrees, a heat-sensitive component in each sprinkler head prompts the release of water. These systems activate one sprinkler head at a time, and usually, just one or two activated sprinkler heads can put out most residential fires.
How are Fire Sprinklers Triggered?
Step 1: Fire Sprinklers Detect Heat
Contrary to what many people believe, fire sprinklers aren't activated by smoke. It's a common misconception because heat rises alongside smoke during a fire. However, if smoke were the trigger, just accidentally burning your toast in the kitchen could result in the kitchen getting soaked by water from a fire sprinkler.
Fire sprinklers are triggered when intense heat activates the sprinkler system. When a fire starts, the air right above it heats up rapidly. This heated air ascends and extends across the ceiling. When the air attains sufficient heat and contacts a sprinkler head, it initiates a series of events.
Many sprinkler heads use a glass bulb containing glycerin-based fluid. This liquid enlarges upon contact with air heated between 135 and 165 degrees. It breaks its glass enclosure as it expands, triggering the sprinkler head.
Step 2: Fire Sprinklers Douse The Fire
Every sprinkler head connects to a pipe linked to a dependable water source in your house. When heat triggers a sprinkler head, a valve opens up, permitting pressurized water from the pipe network to stream out.
Maintaining pressure in a fire sprinkler system is crucial. This ensures the water can spray outwards in an arc, extinguishing the fire and stopping it from flaring up again.
Step 3: Fire Sprinklers Minimize Water Damage
In films, sprinkler systems operate misleadingly, leading many people to believe in the fallacy that all the sprinklers in a system are tied together. When one is triggered by heat, they all activate.
If this were the case, putting out a fire would just be trading fire damage for water damage, which is not how fire sprinklers work.
Thankfully, sprinkler heads function individually. Often, fires can be completely put out after just one or two sprinklers are activated. This enables water damage to be confined to the small area where the fire started. Moreover, since fire sprinklers douse fires with roughly six times less water than a fire hose, their quick action causes less damage to your property than a visit from the fire department.
What Types of Residential Sprinkler Systems Are There?
There are two types of sprinkler systems that you can have installed in your home. Both bring positive and negative aspects and the plus of protecting your home and family before the fire department can arrive on the scene.
Stand-alone systems don't use the home's water supply. They have their own pipes and backflow valves. Flexible copper or orange-plastic tubing is used for low maintenance. They also require a water storage tank.
The downside to stand-alone sprinkler systems is that the water does not circulate. This can lead to stagnant water being dumped on the fire. These make mold and other bacteria possible to grow in the water.
Multi-use units are the second type of residential fire sprinkler system. They use the home's plumbing -- from the pipes to the storage. Every time water is used, the water circulates in the pipes. This prevents it from growing stagnant. Some also have a flow alarm that, once activated, will alert the fire department and save valuable time.
Multi-use units are common in new construction. They can be retrofitted, but that's typically costly to do.
Residential Fire Sprinkler System Components
All fire sprinkler systems include a water supply, a supply piping network, and fire sprinklers. The piping system is often made of metal pipes, although it can use plastic materials in less risky settings like houses. Fire sprinklers are placed all along the pipes and are meant to release water at a certain temperature.
Many fire sprinklers use glass bulbs filled with liquid. When the area around the sprinkler gets hotter, the liquid in the glass bulb expands and eventually breaks the bulb, letting water out of the sprinkler opening. A typical temperature setting for a fire sprinkler is 155°F.
The water supply must be pressurized for fire sprinkler systems to operate properly. If the water supply isn't pressurized, then the proper amount of water won't be discharged when the fire sprinkler activates.
Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers
There are many benefits to having a residential fire sprinkler system in your home.
Saves Lives and Money
Thousands of fires tear through homes yearly, killing innocent people. It is not just the people inside the dwelling at the fire time but the firefights trying to rescue the people within. Firefighters might tumble through the floors inside a house, face risks from falling debris, or even endure smoke inhalation. These things can result in even more deaths or injuries.
But when you have a fire sprinkler system in your home, the risk of injury or death decreases significantly. Even though installing sprinkler systems requires an initial investment, they can lead to savings on your home insurance. The discount you receive on your homeowner's insurance can reach up to 13 percent, and it varies based on the system you install in your house and the insurance company you choose.
Uses Less Water
Sprinkler systems utilize water to manage home fires effectively, precisely locating and extinguishing them. When emergency services delay arriving at your house, fires might extend and impact neighboring homes. However, a fire sprinkler system eliminates the need for waiting; it rapidly extinguishes the fire, conserving water resources.
Mitigates Rapid Flashovers
Flashovers are a fire that spreads from one room to another as the fire eats through the floor. This is common in two- and three-story residential homes, but you can avoid this further damage with a fire sprinkler system. The fire sprinkler systems will help contain the fire in one room instead of spreading it.
Fire Sprinklers Buy Critical Time
The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition reports that a fire at home can turn lethal in under 3 minutes. This brief window emphasizes the need for you and your loved ones to exit your house safely. Nonetheless, if you've installed fire sprinklers, they swiftly detect the fire and activate within 1.5 minutes or less. These sprinklers effectively manage and thwart the fire, providing crucial extra moments to evacuate your home securely.
Fire sprinklers effectively extinguish or contain fire because they react fast after a fire breaks out. They reduce the risk of injury and death by reducing a fire's flames, heat, and smoke. Fire sprinkler systems give people the time needed to evacuate their burning homes. They reduce property damage by containing or extinguishing the fire before the fire department arrives. Fire sprinklers are one of the best tools we have to fight fires.