Choosing a Fire Safety System: Wet vs. Dry


Choosing the proper type of fire sprinkler system for your business is one of the most important decisions you can make. With several options available, here are a few things you need to consider before making a decision:

  • What type of building are you protecting- office space, showroom, or a warehouse with storage units?
  • What are you protecting? Is there office equipment that could be highly damaged with too much water exposure, or are there highly combustible materials being stored that need more water protection?
  • What is the size of your space? How large or small of a space will need to be protected?
  • Where is the location of your building? And are there locations within the building that are prone to freezing? 

The driving factor in determining the choice between a Wet-Pipe Sprinkler System & a Dry-Pipe Sprinkler System is whether or not the protected area constantly maintains a minimum temperature of 40-degrees Fahrenheit as required by NFPA 13. We want to prevent the sprinkler system water within the system piping from freezing. A freeze could lead to blockage of flow and/or burst piping. In areas that maintain the minimum 40-degree Fahrenheit temperature, a wet-system is the preferred choice for many reasons.

A wet system is one in which all system piping is fully charged with water ready to immediately discharge upon the activation (opening) of any sprinklers. A dry system, as the name implies, has no water in the distribution piping downstream of the dry pipe valve clapper. Instead, that piping is charged with pressurized air from a plant-air source or compressor. When a sprinkler is activated (opened), the air is released allowing the dry valve to open and send water into the system piping and out of any open sprinklers. The obvious glitch with this is the delay in achieving water flow out of open sprinklers and onto the fire. In some cases, the delay in water delivery can be as much as 60 seconds slower than the water delivery of a wet system.

Wet systems also offer the benefit of being more economically priced than dry systems of the same size since dry systems must generally be sized with larger pipe to protect the larger areas of operation required of them per NFPA 13. Wet systems are also easier to maintenance.

However, a dry pipe system is a sound and accepted form of fire protection. Its sole purpose is to provide fire protection to unheated properties in which freeze conditions could damage a wet system.

Click here or contact S&S Sprinkler at 800.443.5897 or to learn more about about wet and dry sprinkler system options.

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