Sorry to Rain on Your Parade: Mythbusting Residential Sprinkler Systems

Sorry to Rain on Your Parade: Mythbusting Residential Sprinkler Systems

Corey McCloskey, Customer Response Team Representative

With the recent rise in house fires throughout Alberta over the past few weeks, it is important to consider the options available to you to safeguard your new home from any potential incidents. One of the incredible communities Cedarglen Homes is building in is setting a new standard in Calgary when it comes to fire protection in residential properties. Livingston is a popular new community in north Calgary developed by Brookfield Residential, and we are extremely proud to be involved in this development.  As you’d expect, the area will have its own distinct style and features, but there’s one in particular that will jump off the page: every home in Livingston will be constructed with the inclusion of a residential sprinkler system.  And no, I’m not talking about an underground lawn shower for your garden gnomes, I’m talking about a legitimate, life-saving, fire suppression system for the interior of your home.

Recessed pendent, courtesy of Tyco Fire Protection Products

I heard a needle slide off a record in the back of the room somewhere, so I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.  Your mind starts by sorting through the information, interpreting the implications, and eliciting an appropriate response.  Your initial reaction is probably one of surprise, followed by something akin to excitement; at the very least, your curiosity has been roused.  Then your left-brain takes over, and every action movie you’ve ever seen flashes before your eyes, followed by a flaming pot of whatever it was your kid was “cooking” after school that one Friday afternoon, and a vision of an impromptu game of Frisbee golf in your Great Room, with a sprinkler head used as the pin, resulting in a myriad of peripheral damages.  You arrive at “It’ll be a frosty day in Hell when that goes into my house!”

Our friends at Troy Life & Fire Safety understand, and so do I, so we want to spread the good word.  I’m going to share a little piece of advice, as far as residential sprinkler systems are concerned: Hollywood lied to you.  Remember Agent Smith interrogating Morpheus in The Matrix?  Neo blows up the elevator, he and Trinity ride the cable up, and the sprinklers go off in the whole building?  Total fiction.  Other than that, it was pretty believable, but the sprinkler part is just plain wrong.  That myth, and others, shall be vanquished forthwith!

Myth #1 – In a fire, the whole system erupts, resulting in a Serengeti monsoon in my home.

Fact – If needed, the sprinkler system in your home will only activate where required.  The nearest head to the fire will activate, and nothing more.

Myth #2 – My husband has the innate gift of burning water when using the stove.  I’m not replacing my kitchen every time a pot of food turns to charcoal.
Fact – Sprinkler heads react to heat, rather than smoke, and a flat plate concealed head activates at 160⁰F, or 71⁰C.  If it’s 71⁰C in your kitchen, trust me, you have bigger fish to fry.  Oh yes, I went there.

Myth #3 – OK, so the sprinkler will only go off when or where there’s a fire.  The water damage is going to cost way more that little fire.
Fact – If a fire is activating the system, you’ve likely passed the point where you’re going to want to try to do anything about it, aside from calling 911.  Your residential sprinkler uses 10-25 gallons per minute, whereas a fire hose is around 10 times that.  Think of it like this: those firefighters are discharging the volume of the tub in your main bath, full to the overflow, five times over.  Per minute.  And a sprinkler system doesn’t open your front door with an axe, either.

Myth #4 – If you look at a sprinkler head wrong, it’ll go off by accident.
Fact – Hey, stuff happens.  Nobody is perfect, and no product is infallible but, with that said, there’s a 1 in 16 million chance of a sprinkler head in your home randomly going off from a manufacturing defect.  You might win 6/49 by then, but you still stand a better chance of being struck by lightning TWICE in your life, over either of those other possibilities occurring.

Myth #5 –They’re ugly as sin.  My friends will judge me with these eyesores all over my house.
Fact – Let’s play a game.  It’s called “Spot the Sprinkler Head.”  Hmmm…oh, there it is, hanging out by that 10” wide speaker.  Next.

Photo courtesy of Tyco Fire Protection Products

Myth #6 – This is going to cost me an arm and a leg.
Fact – The fact that you’re putting a price on your family’s safety notwithstanding, a full residential sprinkler system costs about as much as that 75” 4K TV you’re eyeing up for your big Black Friday purchase.  Depending on your home insurer, you could also be saving 10%-20% on your premiums.  And then there’s the value added when it comes time to sell.  Next.

Myth #7 – I only remember to change the oil in my car because the light comes on.  Annual maintenance, inspections from the Fire Chief…I don’t need the added stress in my life.
Fact – Man, I wish somebody would have thought of that.

I almost managed to keep a straight face there.  Of course, we thought of that.  Troy has been doing this since 1979, coast to coast, and they know a thing or two about the business.  Your system is connected to your domestic water supply, and is designed as a flow-through system.  What does that mean, exactly?  It means the last fixture connected to the system is your ensuite toilet, and every time you flush, water flows through the entire system.  Test complete.  It’s that simple.

Flow-Through Sprinkler Note for Cedarglen’s Coronation showhome in Livingston, courtesy Troy Life & Fire Safety

It’s not enough to build with the 2016 PHBI New Homebuyers’ Choice Award and Customer Insight HOME Gold Award winner?  This is like having a fire department in your home 24/7, keeping you, your family, and your valuables safe.  Just another no-brainer reason to check out the #NewNorthYYC in the new year.