Fire sprinklers operate during a fire’s early stages to suppress and control flames, making them critical in the fight against commercial and residential fires.
It is the sprinkler system gauge – air or water pressure gauges installed at various points throughout the system – which provides building owners and fire safety professionals an easy way to prove the system has an adequate supply of water. It is very important to replace fire sprinkler gauges every five years, and below we’ll tell you why!
What is a Fire Sprinkler Gauge?
Gauges are a critical component of fire sprinklers, as their readings indicate whether the system has adequate pressure to do its job. Wet systems use a water pressure gauge, whereas dry systems use gauges that monitor the gas pressure. The standard water pressure for a fire sprinkler should read between 150 psi to 175 psi.
What is considered “normal water supply pressure” can vary, but should essentially be established by system design requirements, past inspections, and any special conditions. This is most often determined by a certified life safety professional.
Why are they so important for your building?
Since many of a fire sprinkler system tests and inspections rely on the accuracy of the system’s pressure gauge(s), they should be periodically tested or replaced.
For example, when there is construction in your area and your building’s fire suppression water line valve is shut off temporarily, sprinkler gauges are the only way certified technicians can tell if the water is turned back on. Without water supply, your sprinklers won’t spray, opening you up to thousands of dollars in potential liability.
The NFPA 25 recommends quarterly inspections of water supply flow (every 3 months), although some people prefer to take the risk of having their fire sprinkler system inspected annually, which is the minimum recommendation from the NFPA.
How often should you replace your fire sprinkler gauges?
According to NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, you should replace fire sprinkler gauges every 5 years or get them tested every 5 years by comparison with a calibrated gauge.
Gauges not accurate to within ±3% of the maximum (full scale) gauge reading should be recalibrated or replaced.
Inspectors must ensure gauges are not damaged, readable, listed for use in its present application (via a manufacturer’s code shown on the gauge), and that it has been tested sometime within the past five years.
Should you recalibrate or replace sprinkler gauges?
To recalibrate the gauges, it is required that they are taken off the system (installing a temporary replacement), sent to a third party for recalibration, and then reinstalled. Most companies and end users opt for just replacing the gauges as the cost for doing so is minimal.