Sprinkler Systems

Sprinkler Systems are proven to reduce life and property loss compared to buildings without them. They also increase the sale value of your property.

Your water source feeds your piping system through a backflow preventer. Then, PVC pipe carries your water to a controller or timer.

A single interlock preaction system fills with water upon the activation of heat detectors but does not open sprinkler heads until a fire is detected. This eliminates the undesirable time delay found in dry systems.


Sprinkler systems are an integral part of a building’s fire protection system that detect and control fires by using water. They are triggered by the heat from a fire rather than smoke. In commercial structures, a sprinkler system can reduce property damage and business interruption by providing time for occupants to escape and help control and extinguish the fire.

A sprinkler system consists of water pipes in or below the ceilings and valves or sprinklers that are made to open automatically at a specific temperature. The piping and nozzles are connected to a water supply, often from tanks or an outside source such as a river or pond. The system’s water is then pumped through a series of valves to a network of sprinkler heads that are distributed throughout the building.

Unlike dry pipe systems, most wet pipe sprinklers have some type of water-based detection that is active at all times to ensure the system’s integrity and to protect against false activation. The fire detection component of a sprinkler system can be either heat detectors or photoelectric smoke detectors. Heat detectors are more reliable since they have a higher temperature rating and can respond to the first signs of a fire in a room.

The most common types of wet pipe sprinklers include non-interlock, single-interlock and double-interlock. Those that have a non-interlock design will operate similarly to traditional wet pipe systems. The only difference is that the system will not fill with water when heat or smoke detectors activate until the interlock valve has been closed by the operation of a fire detection system.

The other type of wet pipe sprinkler system is the deluge system. This is similar to a preaction system in that it will not activate until the operation of another fire detection system. Once that occurs, the deluge valve will open and water will flow from all the open sprinklers or nozzles.

The most flexible and cost effective method of fire sprinkler protection is to use a combination of systems for full building coverage. This allows the designer to consider each environment and choose the most appropriate system type for that area without compromising other spaces in the building. It also allows each conditioned area to have its own system type and enables the use of different types for each unconditioned area.


Sprinkler systems operate with pipes that are filled with water under pressure. When heat is detected, a valve opens and water flows from the system riser to the sprinkler heads.

Sprinklers are engineered to spray in a pattern that covers the area of the fire but not other areas. This prevents water damage from the sprinklers themselves as well as the spreading of the fire itself.

In addition to preventing water damage, the rapidity of water delivery is crucial in fighting the fire. This is why it is important that occupants of a building do not hang things from the piping, as it can block the flow and cause a delay in the system responding to a fire.

People often think that they can activate fire sprinklers by lighting a cigarette or by leaving a door open. However, this is a false belief. The only thing that triggers a sprinkler is the presence of hot air and not smoke.

The occurrence of heat can cause the glass bulb inside the sprinkler head to explode or, in older systems, it may be a solder fusible link that will melt at a certain temperature. Once the glass or fusible link shatters, it causes a valve connected to a water supply to open, and water is delivered from the pipes and discharged from the sprinkler head.

Sprinklers can also be activated by a fire alarm that is interfaced with them through a programmable electronic fire alarm to operate other fire devices and systems in the building. This can cause the sprinklers to activate away from the seat of the fire, but these types of systems are designed with a limit on the number of sprinklers that will be active simultaneously and can be limited to certain zones within the building based on the anticipated type of fire.

Another reason that fire sprinklers are accidentally activated is when the systems aren’t hooked up correctly. This can occur when new equipment is installed, or it can happen if the fire alarm is not compatible with the sprinklers or if the sprinklers aren’t the right type for the building. It is important to have a qualified professional install the system and train all occupants on its operation.

Water Distribution

Sprinkler systems use a series of pipes to deliver water in the event of an activation. The pipes run from the pump room through trunk mains that are divided into laterals where sprinklers are attached. Pipes should be insulated to protect them from freezing or damage. A good supply of water is required, and a clean supply free of sediments is important to avoid blocking sprinkler nozzles and ruining the distribution pattern.

A typical system has a centrifugal pump that takes water from an open source and pumps it into the pipeline. The water then goes through a series of valves that control the pressure within the system. Sprinklers will only work properly at the proper pressure recommended by their manufacturer. If the pressure is too low then sprinklers will produce a fine spray and not be effective. Likewise, if the pressure is too high then the sprinklers may over-shoot the wetted circle and spray the area outside of it.

When designing a system, designers must first identify the building contents and their level of combustibility and determine a hazard classification, typically light hazard group 1, ordinary hazard group 1 or extra hazard group 1. From this, the design area size and density are determined. This information allows designers to determine the flow rate and pressure demands, and based on the hazard level sets sprinkler spacing as well.

A number of methods have been developed to simulate the water distribution patterns of fixed spray plate sprinklers (FSPS). A popular method is cubic spline interpolation, which offers smoothness and accuracy. However, issues such as high radial variability between the sprinklers and negative water depth values have been observed.

For this reason, an experimental exploration of the water distribution of FSPS has been undertaken to develop an empirical model that can be used for this purpose. The results showed that the simulated water distribution pattern presented by the model closely matches the Christiansen uniformity coefficient. This value increased with working pressure and mounting height while decreasing as sprinkler spacing was increased. The results also indicated that the value of the peaks of maximum application increased as sprinkler working temperatures increased.


Taking a proactive approach to sprinkler system maintenance can help prevent costly repairs and ensure that your lawn and landscaping are receiving the water they need. Here are some simple steps that can be taken to keep your system in good working condition:

Start with a flush. Debris, mud, and dirt that is trapped in the pipes can cause problems in the future. Flushing your irrigation system at the beginning of the season helps to eliminate this issue.

Check your controller and make sure it is plugged in, working correctly, and has the right date and time. Replace the backup battery, if necessary. Adjust the schedule for the current season and the conditions of your yard. Occasionally, a specific area of the yard may need extra water. A professional can evaluate the situation and recommend a solution, such as adjusting the sprinkler head settings in that zone.

Next, inspect the valves. These plastic parts control the flow of water to each individual sprinkler head. You will find them in the central valve assembly, also called a manifold, and on each individual head, as well as at the end of each pipe. Look for cracks, rips, and other signs of wear. A broken or worn out solenoid can prevent a valve from opening or closing, which can lead to leaking or wasting water.

A faulty sprinkler head may be clogged or need to be replaced. A professional can help with this task, but it is usually easy for homeowners to do themselves. Alternatively, you can install screens on each sprinkler head, enhance the filtration of the water, or replace the nozzles themselves.

Another important step is to winterize your sprinkler system before freezing temperatures arrive. This process can be done with a garden hose, but it is often better to have a professional service blow out the system, ensuring that all of the water is removed before the winter arrives.

Sprinkler systems are a great investment for homeowners and can save them money on water and fire damage to their property. However, these systems must be inspected regularly by professionals. The inspections should follow NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, as well as any guidelines provided by your installer and/or the manufacturer.