Codes for Corrosion in Fire Sprinkler Systems

Posted by Jennifer Combs on Mar 22, 2018 8:00:35 AM

How Do Current Codes and Standards Address Corrosion in Fire Sprinkler Systems?

Fire sprinkler system leaks caused by corrosion are almost exclusively the result of simple oxygen corrosion. Interior and unprotected exterior surfaces of the steel sprinkler piping will rust and corrode in the presence of water and oxygen. Historically, the standard approach to addressing corrosion has been to replace damaged sprinkler pipe. ECS has solutions to corrosion in fire sprinkler systems.

Corrosion Solutions

To reduce corrosion-related failures in dry and preaction fire sprinkler systems Nitrogen Generators are replacing traditional air compressors for pressure maintenance. When a nitrogen generator and oxygen removal vent are used, corrosion-related leaks can be completely prevented. Particularly when galvanized steel piping is used, nitrogen generators should be used to prevent premature leaking.

For wet systems, Automatic Air Vents present a highly cost-effective method to greatly reduce oxygen corrosion by automatically venting air that would otherwise be trapped in wet pipe fire sprinkler systems. The relationship between oxygen and corrosion activity is linear; if you remove 50% of trapped oxygen from the system you will reduce corrosion activity by 50%.


Industry Acceptance

Over the past few years, the landscape has begun to shift within the fire sprinkler industry regarding approaches to mitigating corrosion. In recognition of the risks and hazards corrosion presents, several codes, standards, and organizations are now taking a proactive approach to corrosion control.

  • FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 2-1 (October 2016) – Section recommends the use of an FM Approved nitrogen generator in all dry and preaction fire sprinkler systems for pressure maintenance. Black steel piping may be used in place of galvanized steel piping when nitrogen is used as the supervisory gas.
    • Galvanized pipe is required in dry and preaction fire sprinkler systems that do not use nitrogen – this material has been shown to fail within 2-3 years in areas of trapped water when nitrogen is not used to maintain the system
  • FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 2-1 (October 2016) recommends the use of an automatic air vent in all wet pipe fire sprinkler systems to automatically remove trapped oxygen gas each time a system is drained and refilled.
  • NFPA 13, The Standard for the Installation of Fire Sprinkler Systems (2016 edition) – Section 7.1.5 requires air venting for all wet pipe fire sprinkler systems.
  • US Department of Defense UFC 3-600-1 (November 2016) – Section 9-7.6 does not permit galvanized steel piping to be used; Sections 9-7.8 and 9-7.9 require that a nitrogen generator must be used for pressure maintenance in lieu of air in all dry and preaction fire sprinkler systems.
  • US General Services Administration PBS P-100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service (April 2017) – Sections 7.8 and 7.8.2 do not permit galvanized steel piping to be used in dry pipe systems; preaction systems are not permitted; dry pipe systems must incorporate a nitrogen inerting process.

ECS Advantages:

ECS has developed the industry’s most complete line of solutions designed specifically to combat corrosion in fire sprinkler systems and to address industry requirements and recommendations:

  • Wall mount nitrogen generators are the simplest systems on the market with true “plug and play” installation with no storage tanks or dryers.
  • All ECS equipment is installed in the riser room.
  • Wall mount nitrogen generators can be commissioned in less than 30 minutes.
  • All ECS nitrogen generators are FM Approved.
  • All ECS air vents are FM Approved.

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Jennifer Combs

Written by Jennifer Combs