How Home Fire Sprinkler Systems Work
We recently found that a mouse had chewed electrical wires running through our floors from the basement. We had live bare copper wires running through the sub-flooring. Not good! So we started thinking about installing a fire sprinkler system in our own home.
Watch this video about the effectiveness of residential sprinkler systems. Pay close attention to the time lapse and watch how fast the smoke detectors fail and how fast the temperatures become deadly.
This video is just one of the hundreds of public service announcements that fire departments have produced to discuss the benefits of residential fire sprinkler systems.
Given the potential benefits, it is rather shocking that more homes are not built with, or retrofitted with, fire sprinklers. It feels like common sense to do this. So, why are residential fire sprinklers so rare? Here are some of the myths we learned about:
1. Myth - The cost is to high.
Fact - In years past the cost of these systems were in fact quite higher. Right now the average costs in new construction is roughly $1.35 per square foot sprinkled. That is one of the cheapest home improvements EVER. Retrofitting can run about $2.00 per square foot sprinkled.
2. Myth - My well pump won't handle it.
Fact - Residential sprinkler heads are not designed the same as commercial heads. The reason they require less water per minute is because the room sizes are much smaller so less water is needed. Many existing water supplies produce enough water to handle the needs of a sprinkler head. To reduce costs while retrofitting a home, a stand alone tank can be inexpensively installed to boost the water supply.
3. Myth - All the heads will accidentally go off and flood my house!
Fact - This is not even remotely possible regardless of what movie you saw it in. Sprinkler heads are heat activated, BUT, each unit must experience approximately 150 degrees before it goes off. The heat creates a physical change in the head that allows the water to flow out. Only heads that reach 150+- degrees will go off.
4. Myth - They won't look nice in my home.
Fact - You have less than 4 minutes (per my firefighter friends) to get everyone out of your home! The concealed units are less unsightly than smoke detectors are! Don't risk your family's lives by thinking this way. Here is an example of a concealed sprinkler head.
According to the Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner, in the mid 1970's the state had a total of 300,000 volunteer firefighters.
Some videos about residential fire sprinkler systems.
Newly constructed homes:
The retrofitting process. A three part video series:
A few more words on protecting your community with home fire sprinklers.
For further reading and videos visit:
Post a comment below! We'd love to hear from firefighters/EMTs as well as fire survivors and home owners. Let us know, if you are interested in a home sprinkler system, if you have one (we'd love to hear your experience with it), or if you'd like to follow our progress while we install sprinklers in our home.
Stay safe everyone!
Bill Pearn Masonry Blog
Quality construction does not only build structures, it also builds: town pride, small business opportunity, beautiful neighborhoods, home equity, and ultimately better lives.
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