How to Turn off a Fire Sprinkler Head

Fire sprinkler systems are great for quickly controlling fires after they start by activating once the heat has reached a predetermined temperature unless there is a malfunction or mechanical damage with a Sprinkler head which can deliver up to 13 gallons of water a minute. How to Turn off a Fire Sprinkler Head  

There are 2 ways to stop a Fire Sprinkler that is activated:

In a Residential Home or small building-locate, the shut-off valve-usually located near the water meter or the water shut-off coming in from outside.
In a Commercial building Use, a tool called a Shutgun that can stop an individual Spray head


Fire can do a lot of damage in a very short time. Facilities best withstand fire when they include a well-maintained automatic Fire Sprinkler System coupled with a Smoke Alarm in a home or commercial property.

How Do Fire Sprinkler Systems Work

Today’s Fire Sprinkler Systems are very useful in the fight against death by fire along with the destruction that it brings. In fact, Fire officials say it can be effected up to 65% for a fire’s defense. Fire sprinkler systems work because high heat triggers the sprinkler system installed in a building. When a blaze ignites, the air directly above it heats rapidly. This hot air rises and spreads high along with the ceiling or in some building high on sidewalls. When the air is hot enough and reaches a sprinkler head, it triggers a chain reaction.

Most Sprinkler Systems feature a glass bulb that’s filled with a colored glycerin liquid. This liquid expands when air temperature around the bulb reaches 135-165 degrees. When this happens it will shatter the glass bulb and sets off the sprinkler heads in the room. The water rushes down and hits a metal shield that deflects the water to a predetermined pattern covering the area of the room. Sprinkler heads come in numerous operating temperatures that are identified by the color of the bulb in the head.

Each Sprinkler head is attached directly to a water pipe that is located outside the building and under pressure. When heat activates a sprinkler head, a valve opens, allowing the outside pressurized water from the pipe system to flow out. It’s important that the sprinkler is under pressure and make an arc or another shape large area spray that thoroughly douses the fire and keeps it from reigniting.

Fire Sprinkler Systems are engineered today with safety and minimized costs that can end a company or business in their future. They should be mandatory in every commercial and new residential property. They are made to save properties and lives not make the damage worse. When you ever have seen a Fire Sprinkler activated in a movie or on TV you’ll see all the sprinklers activated together which mostly isn’t the case.

Normally its one sprinkler at a time that turns on and works that area that it’s designed. Sprinkler Systems aren’t tied together so they work independently of each other. It might only take or two Sprinklers to put out a fire. Because of this, water damage is minimized during the event.

What temperature will set off a fire sprinkler

You want your commercial or residential fire sprinkler system to last and to work as needed. Fire sprinkler systems and smoke alarms are designed to activate only when certain conditions are met. Contrary to what most people believe, sprinkler heads do not activate by the presence of smoke. Rather, they are heat-activated, which means they are set off at around 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, smoke alarms only work to provide an audible warning that there may be a fire danger, and they do not directly cause fire sprinklers to activate.

It is not an early warning system, such as a smoke detector. Smoke detectors simply warn you of smoke and cannot actually extinguish the source of smoke which may also be another common misconception. Cigar smoke or burnt toast will not activate a fire sprinkler. Only the high temperature of a fire will activate the sprinkler one at a time. In most cases, only one or two sprinklers are required to fully extinguish a building fire.

Since sprinklers use only about one-sixth of the water from a fire hose, they cause much less water damage to your property than a visit from the fire department would. Accidental overheating is possible sprinklers positioned near skylights and heaters can possibly overheat causing a discharge.

A home fire sprinkler system is easy to maintain. Just inspect your home to make sure the sprinklers are not blocked by something that would prevent the water from coming out
such as paint and be sure the main control valve is never turned off.

Home fire sprinklers are effective in cold and warm climates. Guidelines have been created for the proper installation of systems to avoid pipes freezing. A home fire sprinkler system should be winterized the same as you winterize a domestic water supply

Overheating-Sprinklers positioned near skylights and heaters can be preset to higher temperatures so there is no chance od a head discharging.

Freezing- Most Sprinkler Systems are built-in wet pipe systems meaning that the pipes are filled with water. If the pipes freeze, the expanding ice produces thousands of pounds of pressure, sometimes enough pressure to break fittings and force valve caps open. When the system thaws, water may discharge from the sprinkler. Again this can be dealt with in the installation process.

Mechanical Damage- due to losing parts either during installation or after it been installed so a reputable company should do the install and regular inspection. Perhaps one or more were activated (during a real emergency or otherwise). If a sprinkler head flows water because of a fire, a malfunction, an accident, or vandalism, you need to replace it.


How to Stop a Fire Sprinkler Head from Spraying

One accidental discharge from a Spray Head can release a lot of water and fast about 13 gallons a minute. It should be inspected and at a regular interval. If you are remodeling or painting and even getting pest control its important to discuss water damage mitigation with the building’s authorities or if it’s your residence, then someone in your home should know the system.

Determine who, if anyone, is on-site to deal with a fire sprinkler malfunction, and make sure that you know who to call if the incident gets out of hand. If they’re available, review site plans for the building you’ll be working in to locate the main valve for the entire sprinkler supply as well as the shut-off valve to the sprinkler or sprinklers you’ll be working with.

Somebody needs to know how and where the turn-off fo the System is located. To stop a fire sprinkler when it is going, a simple method is all you will need. Just make sure that you have access to your sprinkler system’s water valve, which you should be able to find if you call the company that installed the system.

If your home was built with a system in it or you had one installed then in most cases the system taps into near or at your water where the water comes in from the street. The fire
sprinkler system connects to the water main. In some systems, the water flows through a Backflow Valve. A main water control valve or handle shut/off is on the pipe that supplies the sprinkler system.

This Control Valve will isolate the rest of your equipment like a water softener, water meter, or filtering system and turns the water flow on and off. If in doubt turn off the main water supply to your home. Familiarize yourself and others in the house just in case something malfunctions.

Another tool that should be kept in close proximity to your Fire Sprinkler System is a tool called a Shutgun that shuts down individual Sprinkler heads quick and easy in a bigger building where it hard to get to water shutoffs or maybe even dangerous to shut off other water supplies as it would be in hotels, motel or office buildings.

Fire Sprinkler Inspections 

Fire Official recommends that you periodically check and inspect the system every year or so or if you are having some construction or painting done. Naturally, the inspection for a homeowner is less involved than a bigger and more elaborate system for a restaurant, hotel, or office building.

Fire Sprinkler System made for residential homes are less expensive and simple to observe and upkeep. They work incredibly well with a smoke alarm and need very little attention. They are being added more and more every day to new construction and have benefits with insurance homeowner policy discounts as the increasing statistics are reviewed in their favor. They are safe and every year less expensive to install.

  • Make sure the caps are in place
  • Make sure that they are never painted over
  • Never hang anything on or over them( instead of trying to cut the paint into them just take the caps off then replace them)
  • Look for signs of mildew, rot from  water leakage
  • Anything you can’t do or explain then call a professional

 According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), buildings with a working fire sprinkler system see an average property loss and risk of death per fire that is 50 to 66 percent lower than buildings without sprinkler systems. Broken down by industry, civilian deaths in sprinklered buildings between 1989 and 1998 were reduced by:

  • 60 percent for manufacturing properties
  • 74 percent for stores and offices
  • 75 percent for nursing homes
  • 91 percent for hotels and motels



JimGalloway Author/Editor


Guardian Fire Systems-Fire Sprinkler Systems


Recent Posts