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Commercial Sprinkler Malfunctions Are Often Avoidable

Many people are often concerned about the potential of fire sprinklers to damage their property. The protection of customers and employees is an important aspect when it comes to taking precautionary measures in your preparedness planning.

Considering this, many companies invest in a fire sprinkler system to ensure the safety of their staff in the event of a fire. However, these systems can fail or malfunction causing severe damage to the business.

Common Causes of Commercial Sprinkler Malfunctions

In short, a sprinkler system needs good maintenance to stay in good working condition. Here we have collected some common reasons that cause commercial sprinkler malfunctions.


Damage or corrosion to the pipes that distribute water may affect the ability of sprinklers to give life-saving water during a fire. The water from the sprinkler contains additives and minerals that come from the rust on the pipes and cause leaks. Corrosion may also reduce water pressure the sprinkler system requires in a dangerous situation.

It is important to have regular professional maintenance and rigorous testing to make sure that the sprinkling system is in good working order.

Poor Installation

If a commercial or industrial property experiences a fire breakout, it is important that the sprinkler system has the correct and proper installation to provide immediate water supply. However, if the water supply for the sprinkler system is unreliable or faulty due to poor installation, it may cause a malfunction.


Freezing of the sprinkler system causes an undeniably big problem depending on the geographic area your company resides. Pipes supply the sprinkler system throughout the property. However, some areas may not have sufficient insulation. This leads to ice buildup, which expands within the pipes and causes poor pressure, leaking, and cracks.

Failure to Activate

Approximately 9% of the time, a fire sprinkler system is ineffective due to a number of reasons. Some of them include inactivity of the sprinkler system in the building and lack of knowledge or understanding of its usage.

Moreover, if there is water leakage throughout the main supply system, businesses often turn off the sprinkler system.

Inexperienced employees do not realize or understand the business value of a workable sprinkler system. Sometimes they simply forget to perform maintenance or activate the sprinkler system.


There is no way your staff can comfortably work in an office without AC. The same goes for defining the tolerance and temperature capacity of a fire sprinkler system. The fire sprinkler may stop working if it gets overheated. That means considering maximum internal heat temperature is important when you set the tolerance of your sprinkler system.

Sprinklers Installed Too Closely

If a pair of sprinkler heads do not have enough distance between them, the setting may cause “cold soldering”. This occurs when water emitting from one fire sprinkler’s head cools down the head next to it. It prevents the heat-sensitive elements from functioning properly. As a result, the sprinkler system does not release water or fails to function when a fire breaks out.

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How To Avoid Commercial Sprinkler Malfunctions

As mentioned above, regular maintenance is an important preventative measure to a well-functioning sprinkler system. Here is a brief outline of the best practices and processes for inspecting sprinkler systems: 

  • Valve status test 
  • Fire pump inspection and regular flow tests 
  • Internal piping assessment 
  • Performance-based testing and risk assessment procedures 
  • Pre-planned impairment report 
  • Hydrant flushing, and assessment 
  • Forward-flow assessments for poor backflow  
  • Overall testing of fire sprinkler system 

If you have a sprinkler system on your property, you need to perform a periodic corrosion test at least twice a year. You can hire qualified and trained third-party testing professionals to conduct the test and make a report. This test can help you determine the condition of the metal pipes. 

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, like other systems in the business, fire sprinkler systems may occasionally fail to function. Although the number of these occurrences or instances is small, they can happen and cause severe damage. Therefore, you must take all precautionary steps to avoid commercial sprinkler malfunctions 

One of the vital preventative steps is regular  sprinkler system inspections. This is the best way to keep up with the necessary maintenance and prevent any damage associated with fire breakouts. A robust commercial sprinkler system saves lives when it functions properly. 

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