Fall is here and soon cooler weather will be here too. In Oklahoma, we understand just how unpredictable the weather can be. Temperatures can quickly fall and an unexpected, early freeze is not out of the question. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your Tulsa or Oklahoma City fire sprinkler system if they are not properly maintained. Thus, it’s vital to regularly check your fire sprinkler system and, in the case of dry fire sprinkler or pre-action systems, drain drum drips to prevent pipes from freezing.

What are drum drips, and why is fire sprinkler maintenance in winter so important? First, unlike wet fire sprinkler systems that have pipes
filled with water, dry fire sprinkler systems have pipes that are filled with compressed air that hold water back at the main valve until activation. Thus, while wet fire sprinklers must be kept in heated areas to prevent their pipes from freezing, a dry fire sprinkler system can be installed in unheated areas that could freeze such as warehouses, parking garages, attics, etc. The compressed air in these pipes can cause condensation to accumulate, so drum drips are added to the system.

Drum drips, also known as auxiliary drains, low point drains, or condensation collectors, are drains specifically designed to divert and collect extra water, if the main valve is tripped, or condensation from the system so that this extra moisture can easily be drained.

dry pipe drum dripIf the drum drips are not regularly drained, these pipes could collect water and then freeze and break in the winter weather. Broken auxiliary drains can be expensive to repair and could cause other parts of the system to need to be repaired. And if these drains are frozen or broken in the event of a fire, it can cause the entire fire sprinkler system not to work properly. Thus, it’s imperative that building owners and managers have these drum drips maintained regularly.

Fall is a good time to start a program of regularly checking and draining these pipes before an unexpected freeze occurs. So, before the
weather starts to drastically change, designate trained personnel to regularly drain these auxiliary pipes. During winter months, it’s recommended to drain these drum drips every week.

How would these auxiliary pipes be properly drained? First, close the top/upper valve of the drum drip and remove the plug or end cap of the bottom valve. Open the bottom valve to allow any water to drain out of the pipes. Then, repeat this process again by closing the bottom valve and reopening the upper valve to allow any excess water to drain into the drum drip again. Then close the upper valve and open the bottom to allow any extra moisture to drain out again. When all the water has drained out, close the bottom valve, replace the plug, and open the top valve again. The upper valve should remain open and the bottom valve closed. It’s important to open and close these valves in the correct order. Be sure to not open both valves at the same time because this will trigger the sprinkler system activate and fill with water.

Regular fire sprinkler system maintenance and inspections are vital for all types of fire sprinkler systems to ensure life safety and prevent costly damage to the system and the building.

At Mac Systems, our fire sprinkler system specialists in both Tulsa and OKC can perform the required inspections needed to keep your customers, staff, and property safe as well as remain code compliant.