Building systems can suffer poor performance due to installation errors, but in the case of fire sprinklers, this can be deadly. New York City has some of the most stringent fire protection codes in the world – if your sprinkler system has bugs, they will most likely be detected during inspections before the building can begin operation. However, fixes can be very expensive when it comes to sprinkler systems, and you should avoid them in the first place.
The best way to avoid installation errors is to hire professional services from the beginning of the project design phase. Also, request supervision services to make sure everything is installed according to approved design documents. If you are installing a sprinkler system to comply with local law 26 in a large building, there is little room for error:
This article will provide a summary of some common mistakes when installing sprinkler systems. You shouldn’t have to worry about them if you work with qualified professionals, but additional technical knowledge never hurts!
1) Incorrect pipe diameter
Installing building systems according to “rules of thumb” is tempting because it sounds easy, but this practice often leads to chronic performance problems. In the case of sprinkler systems, these rules of thumb cause dysfunctional systems that can’t provide adequate fire protection.
For a sprinkler system to function properly, the pressure and flow must be by the manufacturer’s requirements and also by the applicable fire protection codes. Undersized tubing leads to insufficient flow, while oversized tubing leads to excessive pressure. At the top of the day, there’s no substitute for an in-depth calculation procedure by a professional design professional.
2) Changing the sprinkler model in the design documents
Sprinkler models are not like light bulbs, allowing you to change brands without limitation. Each sprinkler model has operating parameters that are taken into account when calculating piping, pressure, and flow, and the installation will not perform as expected if the sprinkler model is changed.
Changing sprinklers can be very tempting for contractors if a similar model offers a lower price. Before the project contract is signed, you can add a clause that requires the contractor to use the exact sprinkler model specified in the design documents.
3) Installing wall sprinklers too on the brink of the ceiling
There is a misconception that wall sprinklers provide better protection when placed as high as possible on a wall. However, they are designed for a specific mounting height and their spray pattern is interrupted by the ceiling if they are installed higher. In other words, installing wall sprinklers too close to the ceiling is detrimental to their performance.
4) Installing sprinklers over obstructions
Sprinkler systems are often designed based on an empty design of the room they protect. However, the resulting spray pattern can be affected by furniture or decor. For example, if a tall file is installed just below a sprinkler, too much water spray. It will hit the top of the closet and will not reach the intended location. Vertical office partitions can have the same effect on sprinkler spray patterns.
To ensure that spray patterns are not blocked, establish communication between sprinkler system installation designers, architects, and interior designers. In this way, it is possible to optimize coverage with as few sprinklers as possible, while taking into account obstacles that may not be apparent during the design phase.
5) Add valves not allowed by codes
A valve may seem like harmless equipment. If a valve is accidentally closed in a plumbing fixture, the worst that can happen is to block the water supply to all downstream plumbing fixtures. Beside, the problem will be immediately apparent. However, the risks are much higher in sprinkler systems. Closed valves are not obvious because sprinklers are only activated during emergencies.
If a fireplace starts, it’s going to be too late to open the valve.
For this reason, building codes prohibit the arbitrary use of valves. It cut off the water supply for sprinkler systems, in whole. Valves may be allowed in cases where plumbing fixtures and sprinklers share a water supply because the effects are apparent if a valve is accidentally closed.
If the water supply to a sprinkler system is accidentally cut off by a valve. It should not have been installed in the first place, the fire can spread uncontrollably.
6) Misunderstanding the requirements of local law 26
Installing a system for an outsized building is often a really expensive project. If you are undertaking the project to comply with Local Law 26, first make sure your property is covered. If your building does not fall under the purview of LL26, less expensive fire protection systems are available. Note that the reverse may also apply – maybe LL26 covers your building and you don’t know? In both cases, the simplest recommendation is to hunt for professional advice.