Fire Sprinkler System Freeze Protection: How to Maintain Auxiliary Drains

Fire sprinkler system freeze prevention is vital for facility managers as temperatures drop. Compromised life safety, facility damage, and more plague facilities with poor maintenance plans.

Proper auxiliary drain maintenance is key to preventing freezing on dry sprinkler systems. Facilities can save thousands each winter with these key steps:

      1. Locate Auxiliary Drains
      2. Perform Preventative Maintenance
      3. Use Correct Service Frequency
      4. Simplify the Plan

So how do you maintain auxiliary drains, and what are they? Let’s dive in.

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New Trends in Corrosion and Freeze Protection for Resilient Fire Sprinkler Systems

How can you prevent corrosion and freezing in fire sprinkler systems? That has long been a question central to code requirements and new product development.

Recent innovations have presented a few possible answers to that question. Air vents, self-draining auxiliary drains in heated cabinets, and flood elimination devices, can protect fire sprinkler systems against the common pitfalls of corrosion and freezing.

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Sprinkler Systems and Freezing Weather

Prevent Flooding in Your Facility

In freezing weather, dry and pre-action fire sprinkler systems have a major Achilles heel if improperly maintained—the auxiliary drains. Auxiliary drains, also referred to as low-point drains or drum drips, are required on dry or pre-action fire sprinkler systems to collect condensation that forms in the pipes.

When improperly maintained, auxiliary drains break and can cause major facility flooding. The cost to repair and reset the fire sprinkler system itself is negligible compared to the cost of water damage mitigation, potential lost inventory, tenant interruption, increased liability, and increased insurance premiums.

Luckily, understanding attentive maintenance and other available solutions can help facilities prevent flooding caused by frozen auxiliary drains.

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Maintenance Considerations for Dry Sprinkler Systems

As seen in NFSA Tech Notes:

This Special Edition of TechNotes is an annual reissue of the relevant information to winterizing dry pipe sprinkler systems. It was originally written by Mark Hopkins, P.E., Vice President of Engineering for the NFSA and updated by Kevin Hall, P.E., Manager of Engineering Research for the NFSA.

As the temperature continues to drop, it is important to remind building owners and facility maintenance personnel of some important inspection and maintenance tasks necessary to keep their dry pipe systems in good operational condition during the winter months. Building owners and facility maintenance personnel need to recognize that NFPA 25-2020, Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, provides a minimum set of requirements. NFPA 25 section 1.2.1 states:

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Sprinkler Advocacy and Education

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) created a program that donates free NFPA 13D sprinkler display kits to fire departments across the country. The kits are used to educate the public on residential fire sprinklers. This article, originally published in Fire Sprinkler Contractor Magazine, covers AGF’s involvement in the program. AGF streamlined the program’s instructions and has donated dozens of risers for the displays.

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Inspection, Testing, & Maintenance in a Post COVID-19 World

No one knows for sure how our world will change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there will be changes. In the short term, as the United States starts to re-open facilities, we need to prepare for additional building entry procedures and ITM post-COVID-19.

Security will likely include temperature taking and health screening questions. Service, maintenance, and inspection personnel need to be provided with masks, gloves, and other PPE. Disinfectant wipes will need to be added to toolboxes so for use on the fire control panel.

Gone are the days when a crew can easily access a building and have free roam of the stairwells to access sprinkler system valves. Bottom line, property owners and occupants will want to limit the number of outsiders entering their buildings, limit the areas of the building they access, and limit the amount of time they will be on site.

The fire protection industry can’t let interruptions to inspection, testing, and maintenance undermine long-term fire sprinkler system integrity. That will mean using products that ease the time service contractors need to be on-site and the areas they need to access. Although developed to solve other system-related issues, AGF Manufacturing has products to address concerns of a post-COVID-19 environment.

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Improve Your Fire Sprinkler System Maintenance with These 5 Tips

Fire sprinkler system maintenance keeps a system ready that could save your life. Everyone hopes fire sprinklers never need to activate–that there’s never a fire. But the worst scenario for building tenants and property is a system that doesn’t work when they need it.

Maintenance doesn’t need to cause a headache for facilities professionals, though. With these five tips, building managers can maintain a safe fire sprinkler system with ease.

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How to Offer a Better Five-Year Obstruction Investigation

and Differentiate Yourself in a Crowded Marketplace

With the increased emphasis on the 5-year obstruction investigation, one might be left to wonder when it became a requirement.  Well, the requirement has been lurking in NFPA 25, the Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, for over 20 years but became clearly defined in the 2002 edition. Most insurance companies now require 5-year internal pipe inspections as a condition of their coverage. Some have denied claims for damage done by system-related issues if a building owner can’t prove that the system has been maintained correctly and internally inspected every 5 years.

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Beyond the Basic Auxiliary Drain

Two Upgrades that Save Thousands

A broken auxiliary drain, sometimes referred to as a drum drip, is at best an inconvenience to building tenants. At the worst, it costs facility owners thousands (or in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of dollars. One international furniture retailer reported that shutting down due to a broken auxiliary drain cost them $50,000 per hour in lost business, plus the cost of system maintenance and fines paid to the fire department for responding to a false system trip.

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