A UL-listed, factory-premixed antifreeze – like freezemaster™ antifreeze – will soon be the new normal for sprinkler systems needing seasonal freeze protection. This new normal requires different installation and maintenance than building owners and ITM contractors are used to with traditional antifreezes. Not taking these differences into account significantly shortens the life of listed antifreeze.
Before July 2021, a listed antifreeze approved for use in Ordinary Hazard 1 & 2 sprinkler systems larger than 40 gallons did not exist, even though many of these buildings require a system with significantly more antifreeze. This limitation made it difficult and expensive for antifreeze-based fire sprinkler systems in larger applications to maintain compliance with NFPA requirements.
Planning for freezing temperatures during the sweltering summer might not be the first thing on anyone’s to-do list in the fire sector. But in the case of sprinkler system freeze protection, 2021 is the year it should be. Advance planning, insights from the field and a broad perspective on where winterizing is needed will be useful to prepare for safe, effective freeze protection in sprinklered applications this winter and next.
Fire sprinkler systems can be prone to a specific category of corrosion plaguing the industry known as microbiologically influenced corrosion, or MIC. According to the FM Global report “Corrosion and Corrosion Mitigation in Fire Protection Systems,” MIC is responsible for 10-30% of corrosion in all piping systems in the U.S.
During the years when there were no listed antifreezes to protect fire sprinklers from freezing in severely cold weather, dry pipe systems were often chosen to fill the void after NPFA put into place new regulations requiring listed antifreezes for new systems. The most common applications affected by this included attics, unheated warehouses, commercial freezers, overhead canopies, loading docks and parking garages. Now that listed antifreezes are commercially available, however, it’s worth evaluating experiences from the field where dry system use increased in situations where it might not have been best suited. While these systems can be the right solution in some scenarios, they can have significant drawbacks in others.
Fire sprinkler contractors who have an inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) business are looking at new protocols for water-based fire protection systems.
Sprinkler pipes must be safeguarded when temperatures cannot reliably remain at or above 40ºF (4ºC) ambient temperature. New and existing sprinkler systems in Residential, Light Hazard, Ordinary Hazard and Storage applications can be protected against severe cold with freezemaster™ antifreeze, a new UL-listed, factory premixed freeze protection technology.
Building owners need assurance that their fire protection systems are functioning to lower the risk of an uncontrolled fire loss. Fire suppression system contractors need confidence that the systems they install will not freeze and will provide the best corrosion protection on the market.
NFPA fire sprinkler standards require new antifreeze systems to use an agency-listed antifreeze. And these same standards require that existing systems use an agency-listed antifreeze by September 30, 2022. These standards are intended to ensure an antifreeze system is designed and installed using the safest and most reliable practices in the industry.