Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Residential Fire Sprinklers

Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,531
I just read an interesting article in the May issue of Plumbing & Mechanical about the case for residential fire sprinklers. Have you encountered or installed these? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
President
HeatingHelp.com

Comments

  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480
    If I was building a new house I would install them without a doubt.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Robert O'Brienwyo
  • njtommynjtommy Member Posts: 1,105
    I saw 1 residential systems last year. It was an old Farm house they fixed up. They had to store a few thousand gallons of water do to being on well water. Their system was also a misting systems very low flow compared to standard systems.
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,607
    I have installed 3 of the Uponor systems. They work off the potable water piping in the house. They used A LOT of Pex tubing.
    Each head had 4 - 1/2" runs going to each head. Huge series of spider webs.
    The only advantage I saw was that it in effected tested the system every time you turned on a cold water faucet.
    Each of these houses had city water...no tank.
    I have seen plenty of the traditional Blazemaster systems in residential homes.
    I am not sure I would install one in my own home.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480
    kcopp said:

    I have installed 3 of the Uponor systems. They work off the potable water piping in the house. They used A LOT of Pex tubing.
    Each head had 4 - 1/2" runs going to each head. Huge series of spider webs.
    The only advantage I saw was that it in effected tested the system every time you turned on a cold water faucet.
    Each of these houses had city water...no tank.
    I have seen plenty of the traditional Blazemaster systems in residential homes.
    I am not sure I would install one in my own home.

    Why is that?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,607
    I don't see the need for the added cost. The NEC has "us" w/ smoke detectors everywhere now. Appliances are super safe now and we don't smoke...
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480
    edited May 2016
    kcopp said:

    I don't see the need for the added cost. The NEC has "us" w/ smoke detectors everywhere now. Appliances are super safe now and we don't smoke...

    Appliances are super safe now?
    We had a brand new refrigerator light up a few years ago in town the day it was delivered. It really messed the house up too, I believe it took weeks until the family could move back in. Refrigerators use spray foam which is super flammable and they're built like junk.

    Clothes dryers are still a constant problem as well and stoves, well, **** happens.

    I don't see the need in bedrooms or the livingroom, but I'd like one over the washer \ dryer and the stove.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,607
    By all means have at it.... just dont see the need to start mandating it.
    The three jobs I did were in duplexes that the town mandates them in.
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,698
    I built a library a few years back, there was one head over the bin for the book drop. It had nothing (e.g. fire alarm) other than a RPZ backflow preventer. Apparently there's a code for a limited area sprinkler like that. Maybe I'll put one in the mechanical room I'm gonna build around the furnace. Whenever I get a round to it.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 14,916
    I would seriously consider having them in the place I care for -- excellent idea. Two problems. Money and the hassle of figuring out where to run the pipes... New build? I'd have them for sure.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480
    kcopp said:

    By all means have at it.... just dont see the need to start mandating it.
    The three jobs I did were in duplexes that the town mandates them in.

    Oh, no that I agree with completely.
    I should be allowed to put sprinklers where I want. Or not where I don't want.

    Same goes for arc fault breakers..........only place they belong is in the garbage IMO.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    kcopp
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    We're currently contemplating the purchase of a beautiful 1910 house full of gorgeous old-growth hardwood casework. If we end up buying it, I will sprinkle it -- piece by piece as we remodel. The insurance numbers (quite high, BTW) would never provide a like for like replacement.

    I do love the flexibility that PEX provides, but the sprinkler fittings run 4-5x the cost of the CPVC ones we use on 13 and 13R jobs. This would definitely be a separate system with its own RPZ BFP. I'm not at all comfortable with dead legs full of stagnant water.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480
    How are pex and cpvc sprinkler systems in regards to getting dirty water over years and clogging when needed?

    I assume this is only an issue with steel pipe?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • kcoppkcopp Member Posts: 3,607
    edited May 2016
    That was one of the selling points w/ the Wirsbo Uponor system.... no stagnant piping. Water was always in it and always being used and replenished.
    ChrisJ
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited May 2016
    Right, but a LOT of pipe. I need to read all of NFPA 13D and see if we can mix PEX with more conventional piping arrangements in a non-mixed system. Wow, that was a mouthful. Fishing a PEX line up and over even from just one direction will be hard enough.
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,531
    Really great points all around. Thanks for sharing.

    I was just reading about Uponor's system and it looks like it integrates with the home's cold-water plumbing.

    My sister had a fire a few years back. They owned an older home in Louisville and an attic fan caught fire. The tricky part was that the fire began on the roof and they didn't have smoke alarms in the unfinished attic space. As chance would have it, they were just arriving home at the time and they, along with some neighbors, noticed the smoke coming from the roof and called the fire department. Not sure how this would have played out with a sprinkler system, but I can see the value of putting one throughout the whole house because you just never know. And PEX would work well in these colder spaces because it can withstand drops in temperature.

    I agree about putting them into a new build and they're actually mandated in my state (Maryland), but I wouldn't even know where to begin in my 1940s-era home in terms of both logistics and cost.

    @SWEI, can you keep us posted on how it goes if you buy the home and take on this project?
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Of course! I did post some photos of the boiler a few weeks back.
    Robert O'BrienGordy
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480
    I believe we're required to have a smoke detector in attics in my area, I know my house did when I moved in and I doubt the seller would've put it there otherwise.

    Problem is, it's not networked with the rest of the system so I need to fix that.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,531
    Wow, @SWEI! You're going to be busy.

    @ChrisJ, good point about networking it.
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 14,420
    When we worked in Park City the city had to decide between adding additional fire stations with 4WD equipment and staff, as the city grew up the mountain. Or require new homes to be sprinkled.

    The bean counters and city council made the decision based on $$ and the fact that fire sprinklers usually extinguish fires with a lot less water. That was critical in low water years in the arid west. By the time a fire started and the equipment got on site it required a lot of water to bring building fires under control. many times a single fire head can put out a fire flowing GPM not thousands of gpms.

    It was quite profitable for a few years until the low ballers hit town. The first systems we did in copper with a T-Drill, then later on with Blazemaster CPVC systems.It did reflect in the homeowners insurance rate also when engineered, approved systems were installed.

    A large forest fire, a few years prior, also had them require outside exposure heads if building in a wooded area.

    I'd add them in any new house I built for myself. I have a few heads in my shop around the wood boiler and wood storage.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • GordyGordy Member Posts: 9,530
    Most residential designs I have seen concentrate on occupants escape routes verses saving the dwelling. However these are minimal code applications. Designs can be confined to the owners wants.

    There are dry systems where pipes are empty until an event that pops a head, and depressurizes the piping to allow water to the activated head. Mostly used in applications where a water filled pipe would freeze.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • JackJack Member Posts: 1,045
    Here in CA it becomes harder and harder to get insurance for a home, due to the fire threat. Insurance companies will drive this just as they did motorcycle helmets, seat belts (I wear them, having left a vehicle through the windshield once as a young man), air bags, etc. It will be interesting to see how the codes develop on this. Installing a system ourselves as folks in the trade is one thing. Having to pay for a system to be installed becomes one of the most expensive parts of a remodel. Yes/no?
    Gordykcopp
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 14,420
    Gordy said:

    Most residential designs I have seen concentrate on occupants escape routes verses saving the dwelling. However these are minimal code applications. Designs can be confined to the owners wants.

    There are dry systems where pipes are empty until an event that pops a head, and depressurizes the piping to allow water to the activated head. Mostly used in applications where a water filled pipe would freeze.

    Yeah, with the NFPA 13 residential designs we had to prove the two most remote heads flowing, or outside the 4 remote. It takes a lot of gpm and pressure to get there. Some jobs required pumps.

    I doubt many homes engulfed with a roaring fire would be put out with a residential system. The goal is to get the fire as it starts with one or two heads flowing.

    The wet systems were glycol, or glycerin in CPVC.

    We actually saw more dry systems freeze and split from condensation trapped in low points. Mostly installation error or where piping sagged over the years and caused low spots, in parking garages for example.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Gordy
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 4,437
    Just wait for the ASHRAE mandates for air quality are fully implemented for single family residences. Then we will have some fun.
  • ttekushan_3ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 936
    edited May 2016
    I suspect the installation of residential sprinklers will allow the relaxation of other standards like number of egress points and building materials. The costs of sprinklers will invariably come from some other aspect of building construction.

    I personally like the idea of sprinklers, BTW. But my cynical side wonders how it would turn out in real life.

    Here's what new large residential complex looks like under construction before drywall and sprinklers are installed. One in AZ another in CA. In years past, here in Cleveland that sort of construction was illegal.
    terry
  • Mad Dog_2Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    Yes, Erin. I have installed several systems. The resistance, from G.C.s and even fellow plumbers and heating associates I know is mind boggling foolish, and unfortunate. Mad Dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,149
    I spent 6 years installing fire sprinklers in the Portland Oregon area. On one retirement home I did there were 4500 heads in it, and the sheetrock mudders were famous for taking them out with their portable heaters. They would put them right in the middle of a room under the sprinklers and blow the elements. We took to charging up each finished section with water so if they did blow one, we would know where and by whom. The nice thing about this is that I got to see how the coverage on each one was. Properly installed, the head will drown the room floor to ceiling, with a little gap at the top of the wall. Very effective.
    The information I got from fire marshalls was that the typical residential fire would be completely out in under two minutes.
    Residential fire systems are not designed to save the house however, they are what is called a "life safety system", and are just designed to get you out of the house safely. I would say in almost all cases, the fire would be completely out also.
    Back when I was doing them I was told there had never been a death from fire with a house that had sprinklers in it, but not sure how accurate that was.
    Rick
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,480

    I spent 6 years installing fire sprinklers in the Portland Oregon area. On one retirement home I did there were 4500 heads in it, and the sheetrock mudders were famous for taking them out with their portable heaters. They would put them right in the middle of a room under the sprinklers and blow the elements. We took to charging up each finished section with water so if they did blow one, we would know where and by whom. The nice thing about this is that I got to see how the coverage on each one was. Properly installed, the head will drown the room floor to ceiling, with a little gap at the top of the wall. Very effective.
    The information I got from fire marshalls was that the typical residential fire would be completely out in under two minutes.
    Residential fire systems are not designed to save the house however, they are what is called a "life safety system", and are just designed to get you out of the house safely. I would say in almost all cases, the fire would be completely out also.
    Back when I was doing them I was told there had never been a death from fire with a house that had sprinklers in it, but not sure how accurate that was.
    Rick


    Perhaps I'll just stick to having multiple 10 and 20 pound dry chem extinguishers in the house. I'd rather not destroy everything in the house if it can be avoided.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Mad Dog_2Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    What's popular in some new construction is a residential style fire cabinet on each level. They blend in, but you have something like 75 feet of 1" hose to douse a fire quickly..mad dog
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    ChrisJ

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!