Corrosion: Detecting a Threat in Fire Sprinkler Systems

Building owners and managers who have their fire sprinkler systems regularly inspected might think they are doing everything necessary to ensure the pipes don’t fail and that the systems will perform when activated.

But, while inspections are necessary and often required, they’re not always sufficient in and of themselves. In some cases, inspections uncover problems, but the necessary corrections aren’t made and the pipe fails. See the case of the flooded library in Phoenix.

In other instances, the worth and efficacy of an inspection depend on how it’s done. Writing in the Aug. 2017 issue of Facility Executive, William P. Duncan, president of CorrView International, a New Jersey firm that inspects pipe, states that traditional visual inspections often are insufficient to detect thinning pipe walls and other problems not readily apparent.

“The observation of mild internal surface rust may indicate no possible interference to water flow, yet still represent a threat to a schedule 10 threaded branch line having very limited wall thickness at its thread cut. Visual evidence to a single rust barnacle at galvanized steel pipe may be viewed as insignificant, yet actually indicate an impending failure due to the deep pitting it represents,” Duncan wrote.

He goes on to argue for ultrasonic inspection of metal pipes to reveal wall thinning and other defects. For more information, click here.

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