Myths, questions and answers

Question: How do sprinklers operate?

Fire sprinklers are individually heat-activated and connected to a network of water pipes. When the heat from a fire raises the sprinkler to its operating temperature (usually 165°F), only that sprinkler activates delivering water directly to the source of the heat.

Question: How reliable are sprinklers?
Records show that in home fires where fire sprinklers were installed, sprinklers controlled 99.7% of these fires.

Question: Why are sprinklers so effective?

All fires start small and, if detected and tackled early enough, can be controlled with very little water. The latest sprinkler systems use a special type of fast response fire sprinkler, which responds very quickly to a fire and is completely automatic in operation. The system can therefore tackle a fire at a very early stage, even if no one is around, releasing water directly over the source of the fire and sounding an alarm.

Question: Do sprinklers go off accidentally?

No! The odds of a sprinkler going off by accident due to a defect are 1 in 16 million.

Question: Won't they all go off together?

No! Each sprinkler reacts individually. Only the sprinkler nearest the fire will activate. If it is not sufficient enough to control the fire, the nearest next to it will open, and so on. In over 95% of cases only one sprinkler operates and it is enough to control or extinguish the fire.

Question: What about water damage?

One of the myths about sprinklers is that they will cause significant water damage. While this may seem logical (after all, they spray water), fire records show that the reverse is actually true.

Here is why:

  • A residential fire sprinkler typically discharges less than 20 gallons per minute.
  • A firefighter’s hose line on the other hand discharges more than 200 gallons a minute. 
  • In general a sprinkler system will use between 1/10th and 1/100th of the water used by the Fire Department. Even then, most things that get wet can be restored. 
  • The combination of the sprinkler’s quick response, small waterflow and low pressure significantly reduces water and property damage.  

Question: Can I install them myself?
No. Only qualified and experienced contractors should install fire sprinklers.

Question: Aren't they unsightly?
Residential fire sprinklers are much smaller than the ones you see in stores and offices. Residential models come in colors to match popular ceiling and wall colours, and manufacturers will custom-paint them for you. In addition, many models are partially recessed into the ceiling with about 1/4"-3/4" below the ceiling. If you want them completely recessed, these models are also available..

Question: Do sprinklers create and harbour mould?

No. Water lines will not harbour mould when properly installed and maintained. Fire sprinkler supply lines can contribute to mould only if there is a system failure, and sprinkler lines are less susceptible to failure than domestic plumbing.

Question: Will fire sprinklers leak?
No. Sprinklers and their piping are pressure-tested at two to three times higher than your plumbing system, even though they use the same pressure as your plumbing. Unlike faucets and other fixtures that are operated often throughout their lives, fire sprinklers remain closed until needed and thus do not receive the wear and tear of daily use. Therefore, the chance of a leaking sprinkler is practically non-existent.