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What do I do after my automatic sprinkler goes off?
April 25, 2011 1:30 PM   Subscribe

What do you do after an automatic sprinkler in your home gets activated?

I have automatic sprinklers in my condo, which is great. I've found lots of information about how they are activated by heat, not smoke, how they only get activated individually, and how awesome they are at stopping residential fires.

What I haven't found is what the procedure is for stopping the flow of water after they activate and the fire is definitely out. Obviously for a fire this is really a secondary concern, but my unfounded paranoia is about the case where the bulb gets broken accidentally (e.g. while carrying a tall awkward object or recklessly painting the ceiling or something - mine are exposed like this one). Is there a valve somewhere? Should I be looking in the common utility areas of the condo building, or in my individual unit? Do I just have to call the fire department?
posted by 0xFCAF to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You can't stop it individually - there's a master valve supplying all or part of the system (depending on how many sprinklers there are) which needs to be cut off in such an event.
posted by odinsdream at 1:33 PM on April 25, 2011


I'm not absolutely certain about this, but a lot of sprinklers are gravity fed from (small) tanks, and the amount of water they can release is limited by the tank size, often a surprisingly small amount, on the order of 10 gallons or so. In other words, if you leave for the weekend and one goes off (and their failure rate is very low), you're not going to come back to a condo 10 feet deep in water.
posted by maxwelton at 1:34 PM on April 25, 2011


In my condo there is a valve next to the water heater in the laundry closet (constructed 2008). The valve resides on the main cold water feed, so it cuts off all water to the water heater, laundry, bathroom, kitchen & sprinklers. You'd have to ask your builder/property manager where your cut-off valve is.
posted by ijoyner at 2:28 PM on April 25, 2011


This would make me want to make some sort of flexible plastic tube-shaped gadget that I could jam over a sprinkler that activated accidentally and quickly shunt the majority of the water down into a big bucket until the valve could be turned off. Maybe something like this?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:03 PM on April 25, 2011


If it is built up to code then the sprinkler system is separate from the residential water supply, and should only be able to be turned off by the fire department. The have a high GPM flow rate (some were in the range of over 15 gallons per minute) so their is no way you would be able to capture the water in a bucket for more then a few seconds. When the system is set off (by water pressure drop in the line) it should automatically call the fire department, best idea is to get out and have insurance on everything valuable.
posted by token-ring at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2011


I have these as well, and they make me insanely nervous. (They shouldn't; it's rare that bad things happen.) It did however happen in a neighboring building here; they were installed incorrectly, and the sprinklers went off, and yes, the fire department and the building are who can turn them off. Those who had rental insurance in that building are fine (by which I mean, they were compensated); those who didn't have it, they lost everything and got no cash compensation. (Needless to say, lawsuits in the building are ongoing.)

And every time someone gets near these sprinklers with anything I freak out, yes.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:20 PM on April 25, 2011


Keep some sprinkler wedges handy. You can make your own from wood if you prefer. To stop the flow you need two wedges, one inserted from each side with the sloped side of the wedges together, like shimming a door or window frame.
posted by indyz at 3:32 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


pseudostrabismus: "This would make me want to make some sort of flexible plastic tube-shaped gadget that I could jam over a sprinkler that activated accidentally and quickly shunt the majority of the water down into a big bucket until the valve could be turned off. Maybe something like this?"

Utility funnel and a hose?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:39 PM on April 25, 2011


This article explains how it works

http://cool.conservation-us.org/waac/wn/wn16/wn16-3/wn16-309.html
posted by majortom1981 at 3:41 PM on April 25, 2011


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