Wet Pipe: Since water is always present in the pipes that supply the sprinkler heads, these types of sprinkler systems are quick to react in the event of a fire. These are the most common industrial and commercial systems and are used in buildings where there is no risk of freezing.
Dry pipe: The pipes are filled with air under pressure at all times and the water is held back by the control valve outside of the protected area. Should a sprinkler head open in a fire scenario, the drop in air pressure opens the valve and water flows through the pipes douse -the fire. Dry pipe systems are used where wet or alternate systems cannot be used.
Alternate: Alternate systems have the pipes full of water for the summer period, then subsequently drained down and filled with air for the winter. This is typically for buildings that are not heated such as underground garages.
Pre-action: Like dry pipe systems, the pipes are filled with air but water is only let into the pipes when the detector operates. Pre-action systems are used where it is not acceptable to have a sprinkler activate unless there is a real threat of fire. This type of system is utilized inside buildings such as museums and computer labs.
Deluge and recycling: These are sprinkler systems only used in special cases for industrial risks. They are most commonly used for protecting tank farms where all the sprinkler heads/nozzles operate simultaneously. Foam is often introduced in to the system.
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