Water Damage From Sprinkler Systems: 4 Dos and Don’ts

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

If you think water damage from a sprinkler system only happens when a fire breaks out, it’s time to take another look at those overhead pipes. The system can help contain the spread of a blaze and save lives, but it can also ruin interiors, inventory and equipment during an ordinary work day.

Are you prepared to handle a non-emergency fire sprinkler system failure at your commercial property?

When we respond to these types of plumbing disasters, business owners and facility managers often ask how they could have minimized the mess. Knowing what to do and what not to do makes a big difference in how quickly your building recovers from fire sprinkler water damage.

4 Do’s and Don’ts: Dealing With Water Damage From Sprinkler Systems

Fire sprinklers in commercial properties fail every day. Older system pipes and heads rust and corrode. Remodels and floor plan changes leave sprinklers too close to heat sources. Winter weather freezes and ruptures system pipes.

cleaning up water damage due to fire sprinkler discharge

When a fire sprinkler head accidentally discharges, it soaks walls, floors, furniture and anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. Regular maintenance can’t guarantee it won’t happen, but you can be ready for unexpected sprinkler breakdowns with these four do’s and don’ts.

1. Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

Advance planning puts you in a much better position to handle fire sprinkler system failure. It can reduce the extent and cost of water damage to your building and increase the safety of everyone in affected areas.

  • Ask your sprinkler installer to help you become familiar with the system.
  • Designate employees from different shifts as responders to sprinkler system malfunctions.
  • Locate shut-off valves specific to different building areas as well as the property’s main water shut-off valve.
  • Know how to operate all shut-off valves and how to turn off electricity throughout the building.
  • Post emergency numbers for the sprinkler system company, your insurance agent and a restoration contractor.

2. Do Have the Right Tools Handy

When the problem is confined to a faulty sprinkler head, it can be temporarily solved with one of these three tools. Keep them in an easily accessed location, and make sure your employee response team knows how to use each one.

  • • Talon Tool – Stops water flow by sealing sprinkler heads with rubber gaskets.
  •  Sprinkler Stop Valve – Inserts into open sprinkler head and turns valve controlling water flow.
  •  Sprinkler Shutoff Tool – Blocks water flow from most broken sprinkler heads.

A quick repair can save the trouble of shutting off the water supply, but it’s a short-term fix. Contact your sprinkler system company, and arrange for an inspection immediately after any sprinkler failure. This ensures the system’s operational integrity and your property’s safety.

3. Don’t Try Cleanup By Yourself

When fire sprinkler heads accidentally discharge – usually because they are broken –  they release a spray of dirty water contaminated with rust, oil and sediment. The mixture stains surfaces and spreads strong, unpleasant odors through the entire building. Don’t try to tackle the mess on your own. Leave cleanup to an experienced restoration company.

  • A reputable restoration contractor’s emergency services for water damage include sprinkler leak repair.
  • Cleanup and mitigation take care of all interior materials including sheetrock, carpets and flooring.
  • Certified restoration technicians can often salvage damaged furniture, equipment and even paper records
  • Specialized industry equipment makes professional cleanup and restoration work thorough and fast.

4. Do Make the Claims Process Easier

Document water damage from a sprinkler system as soon as possible. By immediately recording damages, you can demonstrate the extent of loss to your insurance company, and that can help ensure a fair claims settlement.

  • Take detailed pictures and videos of all affected interiors including broken sprinklers, wet walls and soaked floors.
  • Leave large items like furnishings and equipment in place for the adjuster’s inspection.
  • Create a file containing damage documentation, receipts for damage-related expenses and contractors’ estimates.
  • Ask your restoration company for help navigating your specific insurance claims process.

Dealing with Sprinkler System Water Damage in Chicago? We Can Help

fire sprinkler failure cleanup

It’s hard to be prepared for the water damage caused by a broken fire sprinkler system, so we hope our do’s and don’ts make a real difference at your property. Print and share this post with others in your building, and tell us about your experiences with faulty sprinklers by posting here in our Comments Section.

If the unexpected happens and soaks your building from ceilings to floors, our teams are ready to respond. We handle both commercial property and house water damage repair, and we know how to work with insurance companies.

When you want the best commercial water damage restoration contractor in Chicago, call ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. We take care of properties in the suburbs too, and we’re here for you 24/7.

Call now for emergency help: 773-647-1985