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How To Drain Fire Sprinkler System

Fire sprinkler systems are an essential part of fire protection for large buildings. With automated responses and materials designed specifically for the needs of the area, fire sprinklers provide on-demand protection when people aren’t around. However, there are times when you need to drain systems.

How To Drain Fire Sprinkler System

Here’s what you should know about how to drain sprinkler system components.

Can you turn off a fire sprinkler system? In most cases, you can disable a system, but the only way to truly turn it off is to drain it.

How do I drain my sprinkler system? Open the main drain valve (more on that below), then any auxiliary or additional valves as required. Sprinkler systems should have signs indicating the correct order of actions you should take to drain them.

How do I test my home fire sprinkler system? That depends on the type of system you have. Contact your installer or sprinkler manufacturer for more information.

How long does it take to drain a sprinkler system? This varies by the size of your system, including the size of drainage pipes. As such, the best way to determine this is to test draining your system and record how long it takes.

Why a fire sprinkler system needs to be drained

There are several reasons to drain a fire sprinkler system, though you may need to call a fire protection company to do it for you. Here are the most common reasons for draining sprinklers.


This is the most common reason for draining sprinkler systems. In many cases, it’s difficult or impossible to repair damaged sprinklers while the material is still in the pipes, so we need to drain them first.

Restoring an activated dry-pipe system

Dry-pipe systems may have material linger inside of them, and that can be a significant problem when restoring them after they go off. Properly draining them ensures it’s possible to refill them.

Extending an existing system

Sometimes, buildings get larger, or their fire protection needs change. In these cases, draining the pipes first is essential to extending the system so it can cover other areas.

Laws Change

Finally, there are times when fire protection laws change, and existing protection systems are no longer up to code. For example, we may find that specific material is hazardous and no longer suitable for use in pipes. In these cases, you have to drain the pipe so someone can change what it contains.

Main Components That Enable System Drainage

There are several main components for draining sprinkler systems. If you don’t know how to do these yourself, you can rely on the fire protection Toronto residents trust to do it for you. These are the most important things to familiarize yourself with when learning how to drain fire sprinkler system.

Fire Sprinkler Main Drain

When is the Main Drain used and why?

The main drain is the primary drainage pipe for the system. Whenever possible, all pipes are designed to drain to this outlet, which can discharge material away from the building or into another, larger pipe system. All fire sprinkler systems Toronto companies use have main drains.

Where is the Main Drain located?

The main drain is usually located at the fire sprinkler system riser.

What kind of valve and signage is required

Main drains should have a sign clearly marking them as the main drain, as well as a valve appropriate for the type of piping used.

Fire Sprinkler Auxiliary Drain

When is the Auxiliary Drain used and why?

Auxiliary drains help remove any fire suppressing material (usually water) lingering in the system after opening the main drains.

Where is an Auxiliary Drain located?

Auxiliary drains are located in areas where the pipes change direction. How many there are depends on the complexity of the system.

What valve size and signage are required?

Auxiliary drains should be marked as such and require valves up to 1″ for removing 50 gallons or more. Smaller systems can get away with 3/4″, or even 1/2″ if the amount being drained is less than 5 gallons.

Fire Sprinkler Test Drain

When is a Test Drain used and why?

Test drains monitor water flow and determine how well the drain system functions.

Where is a Test Drain located?

Test drains are usually placed right next to the main drain so they can monitor water flow during tests.

What type of valve and signage is required

These types of drains, like all drains, should have signs clearly indicating which pipes are part of their system. The type of valve depends on the size of the system, but it should have a sight glass for visual confirmation of water flow.

Fire Sprinkler Sectional Valve

When is a Sectional Valve used and why?

Sectional valves are useful for isolating specific sections of a facility. For example, you can use sectional valves to test each floor of a building individually, rather than having to drain the entire building at once.

Where is a Sectional Valve located?

Sectional valves are located at the beginning of each section. What defines a section depend on the size and layout of the building, but it usually matches the interior design.

What kind of signage is required to identify a Sectional Valve?

Sectional valves should have permanent plastic or metal signs, made of a weatherproofed material, as well as a method of indicating whether the valves are open or closed.

Fire Sprinkler Trim Valves and Signs

Trim valves include designs like globe, angle, ball, and butterfly valves. Many come pre-assembled with gauges or other ways of monitoring water flow.


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