What the Pros Look for During Routine Sprinkler Inspections
Whether your commercial facility is a small office or a vast warehouse or production plant, a top priority is to keep the area safe from the possibility of fire. A high-quality fire alarm, along with a sprinkler system, is your first line of defense against the property damage, injury and death that could result from a fire. After investing in these safety systems, you’ll want to contract with your local trusted safety and security professionals for regular inspections and maintenance. Routine sprinkler inspections by your local trusted safety company will ensure the system is working properly and is constantly guarding your facility, employees and customers.
The Need for Sprinkler Inspections
As a practical matter, sprinkler inspections ensure your fire-suppression equipment is fully functional. Regular sprinkler inspections are also likely to meet local and state ordinances, laws and fire codes. Regular inspection may also be necessary to comply with broader requirements such as those contained in the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code/NFPA 25/NFPA 72.
Finding a Reliable Inspector
When searching for a safety company to take care of your sprinkler inspections, look for characteristics that will indicate a competent and reliable professional.
- Ask industry colleagues for recommendations for a reliable inspection service.
- Ask for references from former customers and ask them about the inspector’s performance.
- Ask about the company’s certifications, training and other qualifications.
- Look for a company that will give you an immediate quote for the inspection services.
- Give preference to a company that can also repair any problems with the alarm or sprinkler systems found during inspections.
What Will the Professionals Look For?
When conducting sprinkler inspections, professional inspectors will examine your alarm and fire-suppression systems from end to end. They should test the system’s basic function to make sure it’s working properly and that there is no visible damage or wear to any sensors, pipes, sprinkler heads or other system components. In addition to these types of inspections for external problems, the inspector should look for and conduct tests to identify less obvious issues such as:
- Changes in local water pressure that could hinder water flow during a fire.
- Changes in local water quality that could affect equipment in both the short and long term.
- Environmental damage and wear, such as that caused by wind or other natural forces.
- Electrical problems, including surges or power fluctuations that could damage electronic components of the alarm or sprinkler system.
- System components or controls that are wearing out or that will need to be replaced soon.
- Functional battery systems with newer and more reliable batteries.
- Blockages from new construction or added fixtures that could interfere with the area covered by the sprinkler.
Microbiologically Induced Corrosion
A particularly important factor to look for during sprinkler inspections is microbiologically induced corrosion (MIC). MIC results when naturally occurring microbes in the water literally start eating your sprinkler pipes from the inside out. When MIC occurs, the microbes start consuming the inner surfaces of the sprinkler’s pipes. The pipe walls become thinner, which can result in small leaks and other structural damage that could cause the pipes to crack or burst when full water pressure is applied. If this happens during a fire, your sprinkler system will fail and the fire will not be contained. Your inspector should look for signs of microbiologically induced corrosion, such as:
- Discolored water, often black or red, coming from the pipes during testing, draining or normal function.
- Small leaks, about pinhole sized, in the sprinkler system’s pipes.
- Water coming from the sprinkler pipes with a bad odor similar to that of rotten eggs. If signs of MIC are found, your inspector will likely treat the pipe system with substance that will kill the microbes and preserve your sprinkler’s performance.
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