Why Use Alarm Check Valves in a Sprinkler System?
There are numerous check valves and other components in a wet sprinkler system. It is important in any sprinkler system that is specifically used for fire suppression to have alarm check valves throughout.
Contrary to some common misconceptions, alarm check valves are not intended to be used to prevent backflow. These alarm check valves may certainly help prevent water in the sprinkler system from backflowing in the source or a reservoir, thus leading to potential contamination of the water supply, but it’s primary purpose is to hold back water pressure in the sprinkler system until such time as it is needed.
An alarm check valve can be activated (or opened) in one of two basic ways: either manually when a person activates a water gong, or electronically. Once the alarm check valves are activated, they will allow water to flow through the system, engaging the sprinkler system as and where needed in order to suppress a potential fire.
The Basics of an Alarm Check Valve
At its basic core, a valve is going to help control water throughout a web standpipe system. This could be underground, but the majority of alarm check valves are used above ground, usually in buildings and high rises.
Because of the nature of water being corrosive, when it sits idle for any length of time it can increase corrosion of the pipes. The alarm check valves help to minimize this level of corrosion by limited the pressure within the pipes until such time as it’s needed. Once activated, the alarm check valves will open, allowing the full pressure of water to fill the system.
A second purpose of these alarm check valves is tremendously beneficial in high rise buildings and other structures that would contain a tremendous length of piping throughout its wet pipe system. That would be to automatically control the flow of water throughout the system itself.
Should work need to be done along any point in the system, the technician would either need to manually close valves (a time consuming and problematic process the larger a building structure is) or drain the entire system of water to the point where work needs to be done (ie. Cutting or replacing piping or other valves). Using an electronically controlled system with check valves, this wouldn’t be necessary.
Risks of Ignoring Alarm Check Valves
By not using alarm check valves in a sprinkler system, there are two scenarios that will play out. Either someone would need to manually open valves in order to allow water into the sprinkler system or the entire system will be under full pressure constantly, which can lead to issues in the event of surges or corrosion.
There is no reason anyone designing, building, or upgrading a sprinkler system should not consider alarm check valves, even if they are not required by law. The higher the quality of valves, the more secure the entire system will be and that not only helps to protect the investment in those buildings, but also protects those individuals who use it.