5 Common Sprinkler System Problems
A sprinkler system is a simple but effective fire protection system, consisting mainly of a supply pipe, providing sufficient flow rate and pressure to a water mains piping system, on which multiple fire sprinklers are attached. Sprinkler systems have been in use since the 1930s and have gained increased popularity since the installation of new housing estates and townhouses. The system consists of many common components, such as the main sprinkler heads, which are usually installed in the loft of the building. Sub sprinkler heads are placed alongside or above the main head, depending upon the situation, and at intervals around the property. These often have a delay before they start spraying water, giving you time to call the fire brigade.
Each of these sections of the Sprinkler System is made from different materials. For example, the most widely used section is the main body of the system. Main pipes are made from copper (it is highly conductive and very long lasting), cast iron (also highly conductive, but harder to install) or aluminium. They can also be made from brass, although these are more commonly seen in motor homes and garages rather than residential buildings.
Sprinkler heads, which direct the spray, are made from either polyvinyl chloride or polystyrene. PVC comes out on top whilst SSC tends to fall onto the ground. Sprinkler irrigation pipes can also be made from copper, brass or aluminum, however this requires a great deal more maintenance than the other options. The final section of the Sprinkler System is the actual sprinkler heads themselves, which are typically made from either polyvinyl chloride or polystyrene (the latter being the most commonly seen). This then connects to the pumps, which are connected to the main source of supply.
Sprinkler systems can come in a variety of sizes, depending on how many lights you require, and in some cases, will need to be customized to your particular needs. The most common form is the sectional type, where there are two sections of pipes, one section connected to the main pipeline and another set aside for each of the individual sprinkler heads. Each of the heads will have its own rotary nozzles, fixed to the pipe at an angle so that water is directed in a stream fashion. These are often used in industrial situations, as they provide a much coarser stream.
The other common type is the sectional type, which is almost identical to the above, with one difference – the nozzles are fixed in place, unlike the previously described system. It’s often more desirable to install modern methods as the pipes will need to be smaller, and the rotary nozzles need to be more refined. These are often used in residential areas where the property is small and space is limited. Some irrigation methods use a combination of these two basic types. The actual size of the heads is reduced slightly, but so is the chance of leaking. Of course, if your property is big, you’re likely going to go for the modern methods anyway.
It’s all about determining the maximum operating pressure that your irrigation system can withstand. Maximum operating pressure means the highest water pressure can be sustained for a period of time. If your application rate is high, it’s advisable to use smaller valves, to reduce the risk of hydraulic pressures. The actual weight of the irrigation pipes will also determine this maximum pressure, with lighter pipes able to withstand higher operating pressures. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s easier to install – it simply means that special considerations have to be made.
One example is where the pipes connecting the valves are larger than 20 inches. Naturally, you want to reduce this backlog stop, because it causes a lot of problems. One of the common solutions is a polyethylene pipe with a reduced-pressure backflow preventer fitted in between the pipes. In this case, the first valve is attached at the top of the irrigation pipe and the second at the bottom. A small hole is cut in the top of the pipe to allow the water to flow upwards, without allowing it to siphon off any water from the pipes below.
Sprinkler systems usually contain one or more drain fittings or zone valves. Normally, this type of valve is placed in the lowest portion of the irrigation system and connected to a certain area via pipes with lead wires. The valve then regulates the amount of water that seeps out of the other valves and pipes in the system. When there’s a problem with one of these valves, it’s usually not possible to open them manually – the valve must be turned off with a dedicated “disconnect” command.