How to Diagnose and Fix a Leaking Fire Sprinkler System

What You'll Need
Pipe Sealant or Epoxy Paste
New Sprinkler Heads

Even though a fire sprinkler system is still in good condition, one part of it easily gets corroded and causes leaks – the sprinkler head. However, the leaks can also develop in the piping system due to improper sealing or installation in the joints.

Step 1 – Diagnosis

The best and easiest way to determine the location of the leaks is through visual inspection. Water from other sources of leaks may drip down through the fire sprinkler system making it seem that the leak comes directly from the system. Inspect every piping joint and sprinkler head on the entire system to make sure. While doing so, try to determine as well how the sprinkler heads are connected to the system.

Step 2 – Planning

If the sprinkler heads are leaking water, it is best to replace every defective head with a new one. There are fire sprinkler systems that allow only one type of sprinkler head to be installed. If the system allows other types of sprinkler heads, shop around for the best sprinkler head and purchase them as replacements.

If there are any dripping pipe joints, check if they are loose. To repair loose or improperly sealed joints, prepare appropriate wrenches and purchase pipe sealant compound or threads. Be very sure all piping joints and fittings are inspected carefully.

Step 3 – Removing and Replacing Defective Sprinkler Heads

Turn off the water supply and open all faucets and other outlets of water to drain all the water inside the pipes. It is important that the faucets in the lowest parts of the house are drained of all water.

Determine how the sprinkler heads are connected to the piping. Remove any mounting hardware on the defective sprinkler head to detach it from the piping system. Do not remove all defective sprinkler heads all at once. Do the removal and replacement one at a time. Be careful not to distort the connection to protect the piping.

To install the new head, a nipple is usually involved. Attach the nipple onto the pipe and connect the head to the nipple. If the sprinkler head does not involve a nipple, check the installation instructions on the manual and follow accordingly. Mount the sprinkler head correctly to avoid any leaks in the future. If there is a cap provided in the sprinkler head, install it as well to cover the mounting hardware (usually a screw).

Step 4 – Repairing Loose or Leaky Pipe Joints

Loose pipe joints or fittings in a fire sprinkler system can be repaired using a wrench. Tighten the connections securely but never too much to avoid breaking the pipes. When the water has drained, wipe off the moisture on the leaky pipe joints. Detach the joint and clean the threads. Apply pipe sealant on the threads and reconnect the fittings. Tighten the connection using a wrench.

Double check all connections and make sure all defective sprinkler heads are replaced. Turn on the water supply and recheck for leaks.