Can I replace a fire sprinkler head?

Fire sprinkler systems provide peace of mind, knowing your building is protected 24 hours a day. When a fire ignites, the heat rises and activates one sprinkler head at a time to wet the flames below while minimising water damage. 

Installed in ceilings or side walls, the fire sprinkler system consists of a water supply, a water distribution piping system and sprinkler heads. The sprinkler head releases water automatically when a fire is detected, though it is not triggered by smoke. It controls or extinguishes the fire, so is both a fire detection and suppression system. 

If a fire sprinkler head is damaged, malfunctions or has been activated because of a fire, it needs replacing as soon as possible so you do not leave your building unprotected.  

A fire sprinkler head must be replaced by a trained and qualified person only, it cannot be done by simply watching a video as this does not make you qualified. If you are reading this to learn how to replace fire sprinkler heads, you need to hire a professional.  

Here is why you should let a professional replace your fire sprinkler head: 

  • You could unintentionally violate building codes. 
  • You might attempt to install the incorrect replacement sprinkler head, which could result in it not functioning correctly and prevent fire safety. 
  • You could damage the new sprinkler head during installation, causing leaks and other headaches. 

Myths about sprinklers 

Myth 1 - In a fire, every sprinkler head will activate, flooding my property. 

Individual sprinkler heads are heat sensitive and will only start when the room temperature reaches a certain point, usually 68 degrees celsius. Water is only released where there is fire. In 60% of cases, fires are controlled by the spray from four sprinklers or fewer. 

Myth 2 - Sprinklers are too expensive to install. 

In new buildings, the costs of installing sprinklers, considered over the life span of the building will work out economically - roughly equivalent to carpeting the same building. 

The Local Government Association has worked out the cost of sprinklers in specific types of buildings: 

125-150 pupil primary school - total costs approximately £105,000, equivalent to £10-15 per m2 

Typical 3/4 bed house - total costs approximately £3000-£3500, equivalent to 1-2% of build costs 

High rise flats - total costs approximately 1.5-1.9% of build costs, equivalent to £18-25 per m2 

Myth 3 - Sprinklers are ugly and affect the design of a building. 

Sprinklers actually allow design freedoms, if considered when a building is being built. They may allow larger rooms and a reduction in partitioning or allow adaptation of layouts to better meet the occupier’s needs. Sprinklers can be recessed or flush-mounted and are unobtrusive. The cover plates conceal the sprinkler to provide aesthetic benefits.  

Myth 4 - Sprinklers are unreliable. 

Worldwide records show that only 1 in 16 million sprinklers installed per year will result in failure. Sprinklers is an effective way to prevent fires spreading.  

Myth 5 - Sprinklers only work on fires that can be put out with water. 

Sprinklers can now be foam enhanced to control flammable liquid, chemical and petrol fires. 

The FPA offers a wide range of sprinkler services to ensure that sprinkler systems work correctly.