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Fire Sprinkler System Corrosion

Fire Sprinkler System Corrosion

Corrosion is caused by the combination of metal piping, moisture, and air and causes the piping to degrade.

If you are reading this, you’re likely wondering what is sprinkler system corrosion. Corrosion in sprinkler piping is a major cause of sprinkler system failures. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 10% of sprinkler system failures are caused by corrosion. It is especially prevalent in dry pipe and pre-action systems. Corrosion is caused by the combination of metal piping, moisture, and air and causes the piping to degrade. Ultimately, this will result in reduced water flow, pinhole leaks and sprinkler head or piping blockage. Corrosion threatens the reliability and operability of your automatic sprinkler system., Sprinkler corrosion can eat away at pipes from the inside out, usually escaping notice until it has caused costly and extensive damage.

In this helpful blog, we’ll look at what to do if you have uncovered corrosion in your fire sprinkler pipes. We will also look at what you can do to prevent corrosion from occurring 

Read on to learn more!

What CausesSprinkler System Corrosion?

When oxygen is present in the piping of a system, it reacts with water and the metal of the piping, which creates solids that corrode. Since the first fire sprinklers, the fire protection industry has struggled with the effects of the “corrosion triangle” – oxygen, metal, and water – that forms the ultimate breeding ground for corrosion. This issue can start as soon as fire sprinkler systems are installed.

Corrosion creates rust which can cause pinhole-sized holes into metal sprinkler pipes. This is very difficult to notice until it is too late. At the proper temperatures, corrosive elements also contribute to microbiologically induced corrosion, more commonly known as “MIC”, which allows bacteria to colonize your sprinkler systems’ internal surfaces. This, too, can cause leaks and obstructions.

Detecting Sprinkler System Corrosion

Identifying corrosion is not difficult but requires an internal inspection of the piping network. NFPA standards require an internal inspection every 5 years. In many cases, this is overlooked. It is a critical inspection, one that should not be deferred. While it is primarily an inspection for corrosion, it can also be used to discover the presence of other materials that can cause obstructions such as rocks, mud, dirt, or microbiologic growth. The presence of any of the conditions outlined above requires the initiation of an obstruction investigation which is basically a more detailed and complete internal pipe inspection.

What to Do If Corrosion is Discovered

Historically, the standard approach to fighting fire sprinkler system corrosion has been to replace the damaged piping. Repairs can fix smaller issues like pinhole leaks, but sometimes they simply lead to a bigger problem.

Replacing sprinkler piping throughout a property is no easy task, can be a big cost, and could interrupt business operations. Many property owners choose to repair fire sprinkler leaks until they become enough of an issue or expense that it requires a more comprehensive solution. Sometimes corrosion has become so invasive that a total system replacement is one of the only options. Still, it is essential to note that localized corrosion doesn’t warrant such extensive and involved measures. Surgical replacement of targeted piping can often fix these problems, followed by implementing a new corrosion-control strategy.

Once corrosion has been discovered (and damaged piping replaced) there are solutions to make sure that the underlying problem is eliminated and does not return. You can try and remove moisture from pre-action or dry systems, which is marginally effective. Corrosion inhibiting chemicals are available, but they can be messy and raise the possibility of environmental incidents. The most effective method is the introduction of nitrogen into the sprinkler system piping. 

Fireline is an expert at corrosion inspection, and we offer the solution of nitrogen charging systems to ensure sprinkler reliability.     

Fire Protection Services from Fireline

Whether you need smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or an automatic sprinkler system installed at your commercial property, Fireline has you covered. We have been protecting people and property from fire damage since 1947—and our experience shows in our excellent work! We are known for our superb customer service, our expertise, and our reliability. For more information on how we can help your residential or commercial property, visit us online or give us a call at (800) 553-3405. We are located in Baltimore, MD, with a second office in Leesburg, VA. For more fire safety tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 26th, 2021 at 2:27 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.