Drum Drips: Fire Sprinkler Winter Maintenance

Around this time of year when things start to cool off - it's especially important to make sure your drum drips (and the rest of your fire sprinkler system) are properly maintained. Whether you’re in Denver or anywhere else it gets close to freezing, cold weather can cause damage & excessive wear to your building’s fire protection system. Damage due to sub-zero temperatures, or improper upkeep, can lead to costly repairs or replacements and even prevent your fire sprinkler system from working in an emergency.

Frontier Fire and it’s locations across the Rockies design, service, and install fire sprinkler systems for buildings of any size. Our fire protection maintenance team offers 24/7 emergency assistance - but we also perform scheduled maintenance on drum drips and your entire system so emergencies are less likely!

Contact us or call (303) 629-0221 today with any questions about your drum drips, and make sure they are maintained before it gets colder!

What is a drum drip (auxiliary drain)?

Drum drips collect and drain excess water from dry fire sprinkler systems. Drum drips are definitely used after your sprinkler system goes off, but are more commonly used to drain water that collects throughout your sprinkler pipes due to condensation.

Draining water is critical for dry sprinkler systems that are left ‘dry’ most of the time (no water in the pipes). Dry sprinkler systems are commonly used in areas where water may freeze, which causes wet sprinkler systems to clog or burst. While it may seem counterintuitive, small amounts of water are one of the biggest enemies of a dry fire sprinkler system. Corrosion is the biggest risk from water, causing pipe blockages or leaks, but freezing water can also impact performance and damage sprinkler components. Preventing this damage is the reason for the fire sprinkler drum drip, and it works great as long as it is routinely drained and maintained.

Locating your drum drips

Your building’s fire sprinkler drum drips should be located at elevation changes in the piping, and near the lowest areas of the sprinkler system. They may be marked with signage (drum drip, drip leg, auxiliary drain, or condensate drain) and look like 2 valves with a short section of wider pipe in between extended from your fire sprinkler system.

If you cannot locate your drum drips, refer to any building records and contact Frontier Fire or your fire protection provider.

Scheduled drum drip maintenance in Denver

Monitoring and maintaining your drum drips is important year-round, but becomes especially important for winterization. In warmer months, you may only need to check & discharge your drum drips weekly. However, if your system has gone off or freezing temperatures (down to 40°F) are possible - you should be monitoring your drum drips daily. Temperature differences in cold weather cause additional condensation, and freezing can even damage the drum drips themselves.

You and your building staff may be able to properly drain the drum drips in your building, but you need to follow procedure and it does not replace routine inspection from fire protection specialists. Incorrect use of the drum drip assembly & valves while draining may even trigger the entire sprinkler system. When done correctly, the collected water in the assembly will drain from the bottom - make sure you have a bucket handy! If your drum drips are consistently dry upon inspection, you may be able to monitor them less frequently until conditions change.

Contact Frontier Fire or your fire protection system installer if you are not sure how to properly maintain your drum drips, or any part of your system.

Frontier Fire can manage your drum drips!

If you’ve fallen behind on exercising your fire sprinkler’s drum drips, or maintaining your fire protection system in any way, fall is the perfect time to revisit your maintenance & inspection plan.

Frontier Fire has provided fire protection services to Denver, CO and across the Rockies since 1960. We are ready to make sure your fire sprinkler system is safe, up-to-code, and in proper working order.

If you need help with your drum drips, or have any questions for us, please contact any of our locations today, or call (303) 629-0221. We can solve any immediate concerns and put together a schedule for future inspection & maintenance.