#112 – Limit Your Liability When Installing Fire Sprinkler Systems

by Tom Doty

After 40 years in the Sprinkler Industry, I’ve run across a few “leaky” situations. Let’s just say my experience has taught me to always perform an air test prior to the introduction of water into a system.

Consider this job: Your crew installs a new sprinkler system in a building that is brand new. After the system install, you hydrostatically test the system and the team quickly figures out that one of the joints had not been tightened, which then blew apart causing a flood. You are now responsible for cleaning up the water, drying out the area, replacing the carpet, office furniture, office equipment, ceiling tiles, repairing possible drywall damage, re-painting, etc.Black mold from water damage And furthermore, your “REPUTATION” has been damaged. Those alone are enough reasons to perform the air test. But even beyond that, consider the fact that there is now a potential for black mold in your customer’s new building. Believe me, you don’t want to be the responsible party!

A solution to minimize water damage to a property: Perform an air test prior to introducing water to the system. I recommend at least a 20-minute test (one hour is preferred) at 100 psi. The air test reading should remain consistent, meaning there are no drops in pressure noted, to pass the test. Once the air test is successful, then, and only then, would I consider it safe for water to be introduced to the system. It is clear to see how one more step could not only save you thousands of dollars, but also save you a tarnished reputation–which can be even harder to repair.