Drum Drips and Winter Preventative Maintenance

Author: Regional Fire And Security Systems |

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Drum drips are an important part of a dry fire sprinkler system because they help keep the system performing, as it should. However, since dry fire sprinkler systems are often in locations where temperatures can drop below freezing, it is important to check and empty drum drips regularly when colder weather sets in.

If you have a dry sprinkler system, let us look at what drum drips are, why it is important to check them in cooler weather, and how to perform drum drip maintenance.

What Are Drum Drips?

Drum drips capture any water that may have entered a dry sprinkler system. Also, known as auxiliary drains, drip legs, and condensate drains, drum drips work to keep water out of your dry sprinkler system, so it can perform properly in the event of a fire. Because drum drips are the low point of your sprinkler system and are designed to collect water, it is important to check them often in the winter. If the water collected freezes in a drum drip, it could cause the pipe to burst, which will trip your entire sprinkler system, leading to several problems.

With that in mind, let us look at where to find drum drips, and how to perform the regular maintenance that will keep your sprinkler system from freezing this winter.

How to Find Drum Drips

When it comes to locating drum drips, it is good to know that NFPA standards require that all drum drips within a building be identified, so they can be easily maintained. NFPA standards state that the location of all drum drips should be included on an informational sign at the system’s control riser. That is a good place to start to determine the number of drum drips your system has, and where they are located. From there, you should not have to look too hard to find the drum drips within your buildings, as they should be well-marked. They will look something like this:

How to Find Drum Drips

It is also good to remember that if you work with a fire protection contractor on a regular maintenance schedule, your technician will already know exactly where to find and empty your dry fire sprinkler system’s drum drips.

When to Perform Drum Drip Maintenance

All dry sprinkler system maintenance should be performed regularly. It is suggested to get on a quality fire protection specialist’s regular maintenance schedule, to make sure your dry sprinkler system is always ready to protect your building in the event of a fire. That said, drum drips do require a bit of additional maintenance, especially in the winter.

Drum drip maintenance should be done weekly during the fall and winter months. Emptying out drum drips regularly helps to prevent freezing. When the drum drips are empty, or nearly empty, there’s much less risk of a serious pipe burst.

It is also important to perform drum drip maintenance for a while after your dry sprinkler system has actuated. After a dry sprinkler system discharges, you should perform drum drip maintenance daily. Your system is at its most vulnerable in the few weeks after it has been actuated because a lot of moisture and condensation can collect in those drum drips. It is important to empty them daily until you notice that several days have passed with no water in the drain valve. Then, you can get back to your regular maintenance schedule.

How to Perform Drum Drip Maintenance

Now we know what drum drips are, where to find them, and how often to perform maintenance, let us take a quick look at the steps you will need to take to perform drum drip maintenance. The most important part to remember is that you will need to isolate each drum drip before you empty it. This will ensure that your dry fire sprinkler system does not lose air pressure and trip the dry valve (which would cause water to fill the system). With that in mind, here is how you go about emptying a drum drip:

  1. Close the top isolation valve on the drum drip. This isolates the drum drip from the rest of the system, ensuring you are maintaining appropriate air pressure in the system.
  2. Move a bucket under the drum drip.
  3. Open the bottom isolation valve. This will allow any collected water to drain into the bucket.
  4. Once the valve has drained, close the bottom isolation valve.
  5. Re-open the top isolation valve to ensure the drum drip is back in the system and can continue collecting any water or condensation.

By following these five simple steps weekly throughout the winter, you can ensure your drum drips do not freeze and your sprinkler system is able to keep your building safe and secure.

Drum drips are a small and vital component of your dry sprinkler system. If this is the first time you are hearing about them, or if it has been some time since anyone has looked at your fire sprinkler system, we recommend scheduling a routine service call. Contact Regional Fire and Security Systems – (416) 840-8525 / info@rfscanada.ca.