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A Few Questions Regarding a Cracked Fire Suppression System


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  • A Few Questions Regarding a Cracked Fire Suppression System

    Hi All,

    I own and live in a condo and have recently had some water damage caused by a crack in a water suppression line. I feel like I am getting answers from property management and the vendor and feel that they are giving a runaround on how the incident occurred.

    The condo is around 15 years old and in-between the walls of each condo unit, there are fire suppression lines. One of these lines froze and burst 5 years ago. The burst occurred on a night where the temperate was at -6 the night before. I found out at the time that the fire suppression lines were not insulated properly. I do not know much about fire suppression systems, so I assumed that the water remediation and vendors at the time did what was needed to fix the issues.

    Flash forward to one week ago. I came home from work and found a handwritten note wedged between my door that said "If you have water in your unit, call property management". Sure enough, I found water coming out of the same pipe that burst 5 years ago. So this means that they did not fix the issue 5 years ago. The temperature the night before this evening was only 30, yet is was close to 0 a few weeks before.

    So after taking the property management, the vendor, and the water remediation company, I got a few different stories. From what I could find out, the fire suppression vendor came out the test the lines. He found the compressor on the system frozen, then performed an air pressure test. He then ran 5 minutes worth of water through the pipe. The pipe had a 3 foot crack in it. The vendor mentioned to me that there was no water in the line, yet the property manager said there was.

    So with all of this information, I have a few questions.

    Could the air pressure test cause the pipe to crack?
    Should there have been water in the lines at all times?
    If the pipe froze a few weeks ago, shouldn't it have thawed and then leaked considering it was close to 60 a few days before the leak?
    Does it sound like the vendor did not due a diligent job, or did he skip some steps?

    What questions should I ask the property manager and vendor to find these answers?

  • #2
    Your sprinkler system (fire suppression) is what is known as a dry system, normally there is no water in it just air pressure that is kept up to a certain pressure by the air compressor, the air pressure holds back a valve that prevents the water from flooding into the sprinkler lines other than during a fire rushing to the sprinkler head that released the air pressure due to heat generated by a fire. The system is dry to prevent freezing and bursting the lines, if there is a air leak large enough that the air compressor cannot keep the pressure up the system will flood with water and usually the system alarm is activated and the fire department is notified by the alarm company that monitors your fire system. It sounds like your system has a on going air leak that is too much for the make up air compressor, or the air compressor could have failed and the air pressure dropped to the point the valve opened and let water in, the air pressure should not cause a pipe failure.
    Last edited by akaothermick; 03-29-2019, 09:50 PM.