A sprinkler system is a safe and effective fire protection system, consisting of an inbuilt water supply unit, delivering adequate flow rate and pressure to a fire sprinkler system, on which fire sprinklers are installed. The system comprises a number of devices, including the sprinkler head, which is placed at the location to be protected, the water supply pipe, which connect the two, and the control box. The water supply pipe is often reinforced with steel ribs to ensure that it does not break when pressure builds up against it, due to normal building vibrations. The control box is located at the location and controls all the functions of the sprinkler system. The sprinkler head, or nozzle, is usually placed above ground, either in a drilled hole or in a permanent fixture, and has a long hose attached to it for delivering water.
In most homes, the Sprinkler System is installed between the floor joists and ceiling. It consists of the pipe fittings and the sprinkler head, which are placed above the ground. The water flowing from the sprinkler head can either come through open pipe sections, known as a tube, or through specially insulated sections called a spray tube. The tubes carry the water that is sprayed by the nozzle, through the holes in the floor and ceiling, to the point at which they are distributed by flexible pipes fitted into the ends of the tubes. The flexible pipes are fitted into the walls, floors, and ceilings in the home.
Sprinkler systems usually contain a main pipe and one or more Figure 54 series valves. These Figure 54s are part of the flexible plumbing that joins the main pipe to the various different sprinkler heads. To provide the necessary flow, the Figure 54 valve acts as a diaphragm and requires no external pressure to operate. The diaphragm is made from steel with a single bend, to allow it to be flexible. As the bends are in series with each other, each bends can handle the pressure of the water flow and will close off once they are saturated, so there are no leaks.
Sprinkler alarms are electronic devices that provide an early warning of an impending water shortage. They can be pre-controlled or operated manually. Sprinkler alarms work on a fairly simple principle: the electronic signal processor (ECP) is attached to a switch, and when the sensor senses a rise in water pressure, the processor activates the alarm. Pre-controlled sprinkler systems are generally less sensitive than those that are operated manually.
Sprinkler systems have several components, and some are more important than others. Mainly important are the main piping network and the valve assembly. The piping network usually consists of flexible piping designed to resist hydrostatic pressure. The pipes and joints must be tightly sealed to eliminate the risk of leakage and allow for controlled flow of water. Valves are installed either at the point where the assembly meets the wall, at the floor level where the sprinkler system joins the main piping, or somewhere in between.
Figure of four figures, called the channel configuration, describe the configuration of most pipes used in Sprinkler Systems. The numbers designate the degree of separation between the pipe joints. There are channel configurations that specify the position of the valves. Different valves are suitable for different installations, and the installation decisions depend on the zone of exposure and the amount of motion in the area where the sprinklers will be installed. The first figure, the minimum required, is used as a guide, and the higher the figure, the greater motion of the ground may allow.
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The next figure, the main line valve, controls the amount of water that is allowed to pass through the lines. It controls whether the main water supply comes from a pre-existing structure or if it is an independent supply. The final figure, the lower line valve, controls the amount of water that flows from the main line into the sprinkler system. The zone of exposure can also be specified with this valve. The following figures describe the installation process in more detail:
Modern methods include controlled pressure to control the rate of flow through the pipes. In the past, the water would simply flow over large beds of gravel, preventing the occurrence of leaks. The modern methods use gravity to install the rotating nozzles and to prevent accidental leaks. If you need more information about sprinkler systems, contact a local irrigation contractor.