Thursday, March 9, 2017

Home Fire Sprinklers a good Idea . The question is will they even work when you need them 20-30 years from now ? Is this whole home sprinkler thing nothing more than a panacea ?

Lets face facts . Yes home sprinklers do save lives.

Lets also face the fact that sprinkler systems require proper maintenance if not they do notwork properly

Yes the NFPA banters about the fact there has never been a multi fatality in a proper maintained building with sprinklers the main words being proper maintained.

Well In the 40+ years I have been working in buildings which have sprinklers systems I have seen both well maintained and poorly maintained systems and even in buildings properly maintained the amount of corrosion and mold  in pipes even plastic pipes is amazing .

I have seen systems put in 15 years ago where they went to add heads to a system and watched them open up piping and the water comes out like maple syrup to point the sprinkler installer  has to use a coat hanger to clear the pipe.
and these are systems well maintained and corrosion checked .I just worked in a building with 3 year old piping and you should already see the corrosion starting in that system.

The problem is the hard water we have in the Tri-state area. To add to the problem systems where pressure or storage tanks are used which is many of them also have significant mold and slime  issues in the tanks if additives are not put into the tanks.

So if we see these issues in commercial systems you will see them in plastic or copper piping used in residential systems as well.

Lets face it even thou today's lighter construction does not hold up as well in a fire like older construction today's homes from a fire safety stand point are safer than ever .

Codes mandate Daisy chained smoke alarms and Arc Fault Breakers AFCI and Ground Fault Circuit  Interrupters GFCI and solid 2 point grounding systems so electrical fires are greatly reduced. walls are foamed or insulated and there is blockage in the walls to stop fire spread unlike old homes which are balloon constructed.

So chances of having a fire are greatly reduced but what about 20 to 30 or more years down the road when you may have a real need for that sprinkler system will it work ?

See thats the problem all this lets put in sprinklers for saving lives and not telling you all the issues of having sprinkler systems in your homes and the responsibility to make sure they stay operational.

Believe me I have seen 20 year old plastic piping and what it looks like inside when water is sitting in it and not moving from all the years of work I have done around swimming pools and in the oil industry and working on water wells. .

In commercial buildings  piping can be easily removed and replaced for the most part but a home that means tearing open walls   if the piping can not be properly flushed and cleaned.

Now yes we can filter and treat water before putting it in the system or add nitrogen etc to get PH up or down but that adds to the cost  and that also means testing system to make sure water is still treated.

You see its real easy to say put in sprinklers but no one wants to talk about the downfalls of it and complications lets talk about it.

In some cases putting in sprinklers your insurance goes up due to the water damage potential and while some states have passed laws to keep this from happening some have not .

You may be required to put in a separate metered line to house this can cost thousands

You may have to add a storage pressure tank which needs to be kept heated  this means in the basement and mold prevented and monitored for pressure loss  all of a sudden the myth that sprinklers cost no more than good carpet just exploded.

The cost of some one annually coming and testing your system if you want to make sure its working any where from $150-300  each time.

Having to keep your house above 40 degrees  at all times to keep sprinklers from freezing even when your away for extended periods and now having to worry pipes do not burst

Having to have either a small stand alone fire panel or combo burglar panel to monitor your system and  monthly monitoring fees $30-60 a month

Plus eventually you need to replace the heads after so many years they loose sensitivity just like heat detectors on a fire system  also which how many places i go in they have not been changed on 30 or more years.

Yes sprinklers are a great idea if your willing to take on the responsibility to maintain them if not they are just as useless as the smoke with out a battery. All these model community's with sprinkler rules lets see what they look like in 20-30 wont that be interesting

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