Fire sprinkler system corrosion is a major cause of sprinkler system failures, with 10% of sprinkler system failures caused by corrosion. Fire sprinkler corrosion can result in reduced water flow, pinhole leaks, and sprinkler head or piping blockage and will significantly impair the reliability of your fire sprinkler system in the event of an emergency. So, what causes fire sprinkler corrosion and what can you do about it? Keep reading for our advice on whether you should repair or replace corroded sprinkler pipes, and the best way to prevent fire sprinkler corrosion from occurring in the first place.
What causes fire sprinkler system corrosion in the first place? The fire protection industry has struggled with what is known as the “corrosion triangle” for many years. The corrosion triangle refers to oxygen, metal and water, which is quite plainly a recipe for corrosion. The effects of corrosion can begin as soon as fire sprinkler systems are installed, which is why your fire sprinkler system must be regularly maintained in order to prevent corrosion from getting out of control.
Fireline tells us more about the effects of corrosion on fire sprinkler systems:
“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.”
Whether or not your fire sprinkler system should be repaired or replaced highly depends on the individual circumstance. While repairs can be used to temporarily patch up pinhole leaks and other small issues, this may just be disguising a larger issue behind the scenes.
QRFS.com explains more on the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standard for repairing or replacing corroded pipes:
“NFPA 25 (A.5.2.2) asserts that sprinkler pipes must be kept free of corrosion that can have “a detrimental effect” on their lifespan and performance. But NFPA 25 (A.22.214.171.124) also permits “a degree of judgment” in determining whether corroded pipes should be repaired or replaced. It goes on to explain that surface corrosion “not impacting the integrity of the piping strength or raising concern of potential leakage should not warrant the replacement of piping.”
Preventing corrosion from occurring in the first place is the best way to maintain your fire sprinkler systems. And in order to maintain your fire sprinkler systems, routine maintenance and regular inspections are necessary to avoid frequent repairs and maintenance on your pipes.
FireSystems.net tells us more on how your sprinkler system can be properly maintained:
“If a sprinkler system is prone to corrosion, your fire protection company may suggest preventive measures to help mitigate corrosion.
These may include:
Nitrogen generators that apply nitrogen gas as needed to eliminate the presence of oxygen (an element required for corrosion)
Dynamic biohazard inhibitors that can prevent MIC
Additives that are designed to coat the interior of the piping to resist or deplete corrosion”
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