Originally Posted By: dfrend
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Having many years as a sprinkler fitter, doing mostly residential, I will give you some basic info on what to look for. In the DC area, sprinkler systems are commonplace in new homes. Several jurisdictions require them in ALL new homes. Most places require them in multi-family dwellings or units over three levels.
First, most residential work is done with CPVC pipe. Similar to the white PVC plumbers use, but able to withstand more heat and orange in color. You will not always see the pipe as this is really designed for finished areas and is usually covered by walls and ceilings. You may see it under insulation in the attic. Copper is usually used in unfinished areas.
What should the inspector look for?
1. Check the main coming in. It should be branched the main water just before the main water shut off. There should not be a shut off below this split. This allows the plumbing to be shut down while the fire system is operational. There should be a backflow too. there should be a shut off for the system and a drain valve.
2. Check any exposed pipe. Make sure there is not any cracks or loose pipe.
3. Check the heads. Every jurisdiction is different, but note how far the heads are from each other and the wall. For example. Code might require no more than 10 foot spacing. The head should be no more than 10 feet from any wall and no more than 20 feet from another head in the room. Basicaly, the fire marshal calculates that the pressure there is adequate to cover an entire 10x10 area with one head. Also look for painted over heads and damaged fins. These may delay activation or alter spray.
Again every place has different codes, so check with the local fire marshall or fire department for any concerns. If anyone wants more info, email me. Also if you need any fire safety info, let me know. When not doing HI's I work for a international fire training orginization.
Daniel R Frend
The Home Inspector Store