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Old 09-14-2009, 05:01 PM   #1
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leaky copper fitting in supply line for fire sprinkler system


A copper fitting for the supply line to our townhouse fire sprinkler system that started to develop a very small leak sometime last year. We tightened up the fitting, and the leak stop. Then when the season changed from winter to spring, the fitting started to leak again. We tightened up the fitting again (another 1/4 turn), problem stopped, until the weather now changed from summer to fall in our area. Is this common? I'm assuming it has to do with the temperature of the water supply changing, causing the pipe to expand/contract and leading to the leak to reappear? I am considering calling a plumber, but everywhere that I've called will charge me 400$ minimum because it's a fitting on a fire sprinkler system and requires that the plumbers have proper training/certification. any suggestions are greatly appreciated..thanks!
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:57 PM   #2
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leaky copper fitting in supply line for fire sprinkler system


Continuing to tighten it will eventually do more harm than good. There's no effective way to seal it without un-doing and re-doing the offending connection. Fire sprinklers are not DIY systems under any circumstance, so you do need to call a qualified plumber.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:07 AM   #3
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leaky copper fitting in supply line for fire sprinkler system


I agree. Fire system fitters have different qualifications and licenses than Plumbers. Anyone working on the line could be causing a problem with the insurance company in case of a fire. This is why certifications are required.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:04 AM   #4
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leaky copper fitting in supply line for fire sprinkler system


Copper fittings are not common on sprinkler systems. If this fitting is being used in between black iron pipe or black iron fittings, you could have a corrosion problem from dis-similar metals. The water temp in a fire sprinkler line is pretty stable since there is no flow to change the temperature unless a sprinkler head or drain is opened to introduce new, fresh water. Either way, you need to have a sprinkler fitter make the repair, since the system needs to be drained and refilled after the repair. There are some specific tests that need to be conducted after refill. Draining it improperly will (or should) result in a water flow alarm sounding somewhere. I certainly don't know the details about your system, but In many cases, several townhouses are served by one sprinkler system. Tampering with this in your unit, can put several units at risk in case of a failure.
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:43 AM   #5
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leaky copper fitting in supply line for fire sprinkler system


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Originally Posted by tina2435 View Post
A copper fitting for the supply line to our townhouse fire sprinkler system that started to develop a very small leak sometime last year. We tightened up the fitting, and the leak stop. Then when the season changed from winter to spring, the fitting started to leak again. We tightened up the fitting again (another 1/4 turn), problem stopped, until the weather now changed from summer to fall in our area. Is this common? I'm assuming it has to do with the temperature of the water supply changing, causing the pipe to expand/contract and leading to the leak to reappear? I am considering calling a plumber, but everywhere that I've called will charge me 400$ minimum because it's a fitting on a fire sprinkler system and requires that the plumbers have proper training/certification. any suggestions are greatly appreciated..thanks!
Specifically where is the leak, at a transition between steel and copper? Between a sprinkler head and the copper? if you tightened a head, your changed the sprinkler spray pattern and the coverage of that head. You need to immediatly contact a sprinkler company and get that leak taken care of. And as the two previous poster said, use a fire sprinkler company, not a plumber. Water is water, pipe is pipe, but sprinkler work and plumbing work are not the same. When you hire a sprinkler company, make sure they have whatever licenses in your area are required.
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Old 09-18-2009, 09:54 PM   #6
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leaky copper fitting in supply line for fire sprinkler system


In all my years of working on fire sprinkler systems copper fittings have been so rare that I have never seen one, period! "Maintenance 6" is correct in that you will have a problem with dis-similar metals in this system. Depending on the chemicals within the water in this system it may be worse than you think. "fireguy" is correct in that moving a sprinkler head any will change the spray pattern and may not meet certain standards this system was designed to meet. Hiring a "Certified Sprinkler System" repairman is really the only thing to do. Personally-I would not call a plumbing company. They may have one licensed sprikler plumber within the company but odds are that this man/woman will not be the one coming out to do the repairs. There are Sprinkler System repair companies who only work on Sprinkler Systems, and they know what they are doing and the latest codes. Your Fire Insurance Policy may even require an IRI (Insured Risk Inspection) on this system after any work to keep your policy current. Actually, "we tightened up the fitting" may have voided your Fire Insurance if the company finds out about this. Good Luck, David
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