Frozen fire sprinkler lines can cause problems in winter cold - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Frozen fire sprinkler lines can cause problems in winter cold

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

By now, you have likely heard what you need to do to keep your pipes from freezing: keep them warm and let the faucets drip when temperatures sink.

But there's another problem many people weren't expecting when temperatures plunged into single digits two weeks ago. Fire sprinklers burst in dozens of homes and apartment buildings, soaking everything inside.

With another arctic blast settling into Middle Tennessee, there are some important steps to protect your home or apartment.

Experts say insulation is the key as well as keeping the heat on, even in rooms that are empty or unoccupied.

"The contractors have put it in according to the standard, but we're seeing that the homebuilding industry or the insulators are not going back, putting insulation properly to protect the piping from freezing in the attic," said Wayne Waggoner, executive director of the Tennessee Fire Sprinkler Contractors Association.

Pipes in unheated spaces should be covered with insulation, and Waggoner says that's the homeowner's or building contractors' responsibility, not the sprinkler installer's.

Waggoner says sprinklers above unheated garages are a common problem.

"That's pretty much an unheated area, and you don't want to put a water pipe in an area where it will have a tendency to freeze. And that's where most of our problems come into play in single family houses, is in garages," he said.

If you have a fire sprinkler in your home, Waggoner recommends you have it inspected at least once a year.

One sprinkler company we talked to recommended quarterly.

And for landlords of multi-unit buildings, make sure there's heat on in all the empty apartments. Keep the temperature above 40 degrees.

"Places that are not heated, that have a sprinkler head, they're going to freeze and break if they're not protected appropriately," Waggoner said.

Waggoner said his association has been polling around the state, and he knows of about 15 apartment complexes that had burst sprinkler pipes during that early January burst of polar air.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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