Fire sprinklers activate when sensing high temperatures in rooms and are designed to automatically control fires by spraying water. Fire sprinkler heads are typically mounted on the ceiling or wall and are connected to a network of water pipes in the building.
Even though fire sprinkler heads are robust and resilient, it’s not uncommon for debris, dust, and cobwebs to accumulate over time. When they are not maintained, they may not be able to disperse water effectively and even malfunction.
Fortunately, you can easily clean a fire sprinkler head using a handheld vacuum, a damp cloth, or a compressed air duster. In this step-by-step guide, we will be teaching you how to clean your fire sprinkler heads using all three methods. We will also share the dos and don’ts when cleaning them and reasons why you should keep them clean.
Using a Handheld Vacuum
One of the most efficient and convenient ways to clean a fire sprinkler head is to use a handheld vacuum cleaner. To do this, simply follow the steps mentioned below.
1. Use a Step Ladder
Fire sprinkler heads are sensitive and to ensure that they don’t get damaged during the cleaning process, getting as close as possible to the sprinkler head is essential. Using a ladder is one of the best and safest ways to do this. Place a sturdy ladder right below the fire sprinkler and step up as high as you need so that you can comfortably reach it.
2. Vacuum Around the Fire Sprinkler Head
Safely place the handheld vacuum over the fire sprinkler head and turn it on to suck dirt and debris from it. No matter how tempted you are to remove any dirt particles, never touch the sprinkler head using the vacuum cleaning or with your hands, as any accidental contact with the bulb inside of it may cause the fire sprinkler to go off.
3. Inspect & Repeat If Necessary
Once you have successfully cleaned the fire sprinkler head, carefully inspect it for any signs of obstructions. In case of stubborn dust particles, debris, or cobwebs, repeat the vacuuming process. If it doesn’t work, use the handheld vacuum on its highest setting to remove any stuck particles.
Using a Damp Cloth
A damp cloth is another great method to clean fire sprinklers effectively, especially when dealing with cobwebs or dusty environments. In this section, we will talk you through the steps on how you can do this.
1. Prepare a Damp Cloth
The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare a damp cloth. We recommend using an old microfiber cloth as it’s gentle and effective in removing dust. Once you’ve selected your choice of cloth, run it under some water.
Next, wring out any excess water to ensure the cloth isn’t soaking wet, as this can make the cleaning process more difficult.
2. Use a Step Ladder
As fire sprinkler systems are typically mounted to the ceiling, you will need to use a ladder to get close to the sprinkler head. Similar to the other steps, it’s best to use a stable and secure ladder to give you better access to the sprinkler head.
3. Carefully Wipe Around the Fire Sprinkler Head
Next, use a damp cloth to wipe the wall around the fire sprinkler head. Try your best to remove any cobwebs that you may find, especially on the edges and corners of the sprinkler head. Then, use a damp cloth to gently wipe the surface to remove dirt, dust, and debris.
Remember to be very careful and only clean the head. Never get close to the bulb, as this may set off the sprinkler system. Also, make sure that you avoid applying excessive force. The secret here is to take your time to clean it thoroughly and carefully.
4. Repeat The Process Until It’s Clean
If you can still see dust particles or cobwebs, wash off the excess dirt from the cloth and repeat the cleaning process. When you’re done, it’s best to inspect if it’s completely clean.
Using An Air Duster
The last method is to use compressed air dusters, otherwise known as “canned air” and “dusting gas”. Air dusters have an aerosol body that contains compressed gas, designed to provide a pressurized blast of air to remove lodged dirt and dust particles.
Compressed air dusters are usually used for cleaning and dusting computer components, electronics, and hard-to-reach places, but can also be used to clean fire sprinkler heads effectively. To do this, simply follow the steps below!
1. Use a Step Ladder
As explained in the previous sections, getting close to the fire sprinkler head is an important step when cleaning with a compressed air duster. Place a step ladder beneath the fire sprinkler head and ensure it’s secure. Then, carefully climb it until you reach a comfortable height that allows you to access the fire sprinkler head easily and safely.
2. Use An Air Duster On the Fire Sprinkler Head
Pick up the compressed air duster and hold it in an upright position. Make sure that the nozzle is pointing toward the fire sprinkler head and use your index finger to slowly press the nozzle. Make sure that you’re holding the duster about a foot away from the sprinkler head.
Avoid targeting the bulk at all costs! It is important to keep the can upright as tilting it can release the frozen liquid propellant, causing damage to the fire sprinkler system. Keep applying the compressed air pressure in small bursts until the fire sprinkler head is clean.
3. Vacuum Floor to Remove Excess Dust
Compressed air dusters displace the debris and dirt particles, causing them to fall onto the ground. Therefore, after cleaning the fire sprinkler head, you’ll want to give your floor a vacuum. Doing so will help you maintain a clean and safe environment.
Dos & Don’ts When Cleaning a Fire Sprinkler Head
In order to maintain the effectiveness of your fire sprinkler head, you should consider cleaning them regularly and with extreme care. Below, we explore some dos and don’ts when it comes to cleaning and maintaining them.
- Be Extremely Gentle: Fire sprinklers are fragile so you’ll want to avoid using excessive pressure when cleaning them. We also recommend avoiding the use of abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that can cause significant damage to the fire sprinkler head’s structure.
- Be Cautious Around the Temperature Element: Under the deflector of the fire sprinkler head lies a heat-sensitive activator (bulb) that disperses water when it senses heat. While cleaning the fire sprinkler head, make sure you avoid tampering with or disrupting the temperature sensor.
- Don’t Disassemble the Fire Sprinkler Head: In all circumstances, you must refrain from disassembling the fire sprinkler heads when cleaning it. Attempting to unscrew the components can lead to misalignment or malfunction.
- Don’t Paint Over the Head: You may be tempted to apply a fresh coat of paint over the fire sprinkler head to make it look cleaner. But we recommend avoiding doing so as it can clog the sprinkler and impede its functionality.
Reasons Why You Should Regularly Clean Fire Sprinkler Heads
While hiring professionals to repair and maintain the fire sprinkler system twice or thrice a year is recommended, you should also regularly clean the sprinkler heads to reduce any risk of clogging and malfunction. If you don’t regularly clean your fire sprinkler head, you may experience the following:
- False Alarms: Over time, fire sprinkler heads can accumulate grime, dust and develop corrosion. When you don’t clean them regularly, fire sprinkler heads may trigger and release water even when there’s no fire.
- Delayed Response Rate: Buildup of dirt and dust can insulate the fire sprinkler head’s thermal element. This may result in a slow response rate, causing a delay in extinguishing the fire.
- Blocked or Distorted Spray Patterns: Accumulation of debris or dust on the fire sprinkler head can obstruct the spraying pattern. This not only results in uneven water distribution but also compromises the fire sprinkler system’s ability to efficiently cover the intended area.
- Circulation of Dust and Germs: Dirty fire sprinkler heads can expose you and anyone around to dust particles and airborne contaminants. This lowers the air quality and can exacerbate allergies or respiratory issues for the occupants.
- Collection of Bacteria and Transmission of Viruses: Unclean fire sprinkler heads provide bacteria, mold, and viruses with the ideal environment to live in. The thriving microorganisms can transmit diseases and compromise your property’s overall hygiene and safety.
Sirinan is a self-proclaimed cleanaholic and the editor-in-chief of Cleaney. Apart from coming with up creative ways to keep her living spaces clean and tidy, she loves to read on rainy days.