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Living with Sprinklers

Living with fire sprinklers is easy and they require almost no maintenance. Sprinklers are not complicated.

Living with Sprinklers is Easy

  • Fire sprinklers require almost no maintenance and only work when you need them.
  • Occasionally do a visual inspection of the controls and sprinklers.
  • Teach your children that sprinklers are not toys and should not be played with.
  • NEVER hang anything on the sprinklers, even temporarily.
  • Do not paint the sprinklers. And if you hire painters, make sure they know not to paint them.
  • Don’t block the sprinklers with furniture or fabrics. If the spray is blocked the sprinkler cannot put out a fire.
  • Most important, DON’T WORRY. Sprinklers are not complicated.

Protect your Sprinklers

  • Make sure nothing is blocking your sprinklers.
  • Keep pictures and large furniture away from sprinklers on walls.
  • Hang lamps and plants away from ceiling sprinklers.
  • Do not hang anything on sprinklers or pipes.
  • Even lightweight items can damage sprinklers.
  • Do Not Paint the Fire Sprinkler or the Cover
  • Paint may stop the fire sprinkler from working correctly. It may take longer for the fire sprinkler to go off, or the sprinkler may not work at all.
  • While doing messy work, such as painting, cover the fire sprinklers with plastic.
  • Important: Remove the plastic as soon as you are finished.
  • Be careful when you are moving large or tall items.
  • Don’t bump sprinklers or exposed pipes. Teach children not to touch or play with sprinklers.

Inspect your Sprinklers

Residential fire sprinklers can be installed in a number of ways:

  1. The first is connected to your domestic water supply. To confirm the sprinklers are supplied with water, ensure that your toilets flush and refill with water.
  2. The second is through a separate water supply specifically for the sprinklers or hydrants. Follow the steps below to ensure sprinklers are supplied with water:
    • Find your main drain or inspector test control valve.
      Controls valves must be open, or ‘turned on’.
    • The control is OPEN when it is in line with the pipe.
    • The control is CLOSED (‘turned off’) when it makes a corner to the pipe.
    • Use a padlock to keep the valve LOCKED OPEN.
    • Tape the padlock key to the pipes or a wall nearby so you can find it when you need it.
    • Keep the area around your water controls clear.
    • Do not store anything within 30 cm of your water controls.
    • If sprinkler water controls are ever ‘turned off’, be sure to turn them back on.
    • The water needs to be turned on so the sprinklers can work to protect you from a fire.

Water Flow Testing

If your sprinklers are connected to your domestic water supply, flushing toilets is an effective water flow test.

If your sprinklers are connected to a separate water supply you should conduct a water flow test about once a year.
You can do this yourself using the water flow test valve (see below). Or your sprinkler contractor can do it for you.

To do a water flow test:

  1. If your sprinklers are connected to a central alarm, inform the fire department that you are going to do a test.
  2. Find your water flow test control valve. It may be labelled: ‘main drain’, ‘inspector test’ or ‘test and drain’.
  3. Slowly turn the control on (bring the valve in line with the pipe).
  4. This action will allow water to flow. Let the water flow for about 60 seconds. If your sprinklers have an alarm, you will hear it.
  5. Slowly turn the control off (the valve will make a corner to the pipe).
  6. Write down the date you tested your water flow test valve.

Know Your Water Controls

Just what are all those pipes and controls used for?

In most cases, sprinklers are supplied by the water main, where water comes into a home. The fire sprinklers connect to the water main. In some cases the water flows through a backflow valve. A main water control valve is on the pipe that supplies the fire sprinklers. This control valve turns the water flow on and off. Your system may have additional or different features.

Turning off the water to your home will also turn off the water to your fire sprinklers.
Contact your sprinkler contractor if you have questions.