|Fire and smoke alarms are invaluable for
saving lives, and adding a home fire sprinkler
system can also lower your insurance costs
and, if a fire does occur, save your home
from significant damage. Though more easily
installed during new construction because
of their plumbing backbone, home sprinkler
systems can also be added to existing homes.
Sprinklers put out the fire when it is small
and just starting; thus using less water
and causing less water damage than fire hoses.
Heat-activated sprinkler heads, connected
to a water line, are located throughout the
house. Individual sprinkler heads are activated
by heat melting a trigger made of metal or
liquid-filled tube (thus, it is important
not to paint over or hang plants on or near
the heads because this might affect their
ability to sense heat as well as disperse
water). Only the heads nearest the fire activate.
The success of sprinkler systems lies with
their simple design and ability to very quickly
extinguish a fire. False triggers are rare
since they cannot be triggered by smoke.
They are virtually maintenance free and require
only periodic testing.
When shopping for a home fire
consider these points:
- Look for a discreet system and sprinkler
head design. Modern residential systems can
be hidden in walls and the heads mounted
flush with the ceiling.
- Make sure you are installing a residential system. Commercial systems are designed
to delivered much higher water volumes than
are recommended for homes and can thus cause
water-related damage when activated.
- Choose a system with a fixed water capacity
or a reliable automatic shut-off; that way,
if the system is triggered when no one is
home, the system does not continue to run
after the fire is extinguished. Lacking this,
there needs to be some type of alarm system
and easily accessible valve so that the sprinklers
can be manually shut off.
Adding less than 2% of the cost of construction
(less than the cost of a carpet upgrade),
home fire sprinklers are an affordable safeguard
recommended by the U.S. government and endorsed
by many fire chiefs across the country.