Gide to Sprinklers for Houses.
Trade and Industry FAQ's.

Information for builders, architects, plumbers or designers

If you´re a builder, architect, plumber or designer this section answers your questions about home sprinklers.

Aren´t they ugly?

Not at all. Home sprinklers won´t ruin a perfectly good room in the way that commercial systems might. Pendants can be concealed and all the pipework runs behind the walls and ceilings.

Sprinkler heads.

Aren´t they complicated?

Au contraire. The sprinklers and the domestic plumbing fixtures share the same water pipes. One water system serves all needs.

What will they cost the homeowner?

Sprinklers cost on average about $350 per head fitted.. Costs will vary from project to project depending on the size of individual rooms, number of storeys and type of sprinkler heads used. Retrofitting will cost more because of increased labour costs.

Where do I need to put sprinkler heads?

New Zealand Standard 4517:2002 has all the details, but to summarise, homer sprinklers to this standard dont need sprinkler heads in laundries and bathrooms, cupboards, out-buildings or closets - just the living spaces in a home where people most frequently die in fires.

Who organises replacement heads?

The installer does. Two of each type must be included as part of the installation for it to reach standard. These spares are to replace any used in a fire, not because they´re prone to breakage or manufacturing faults.

Can anyone design the system?

BRANZ and a few other providers run courses to certify people with the skills to design home sprinklers. Once the design is done, it can be passed to a plumber who does the installation. A qualified plumber can easily do the design training and do both jobs.

Won´t the water do more damage than the fire?

No. Fires do more damage than sprinklers. Always.

A sprinkler head reacts to heat, not smoke, so it won´t go off due to burnt toast or a stray cigarette. The flames have to be about a metre high before the head reacts, which neatly differentiates between open flames that are under control (like candles or lighters) and ones that aren´t.

US research over a 15-year period shows that the average cost of damage to house without sprinklers is US$45,000, compared to just US$2,100 in a house with sprinklers.

The odds of a manufacturing fault causing a sprinkler head to self-actuate are 16 million to 1 - the same as winning Big Wednesday.

What do I need to check before designing or installing sprinklers

Home sprinklers may require a larger connection, and this means in some territorial authorities, homeowners are charged a high-water-user charge or asked to put reducers on external taps and other fittings.

If the mains water pressure is low, a small pump may be needed to boost the supply to the sprinklers. However, many pressure and flow problems can be overcome in different ways such as by altering the pipes or using different sprinkler heads.

More things to watch for are in more questions for building inspectors.

Visit www.fire.org.nz for further information on the New Zealand Fire Service