How to Design a Fire Pump Testing Plan
Installing a fire sprinkler system is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever have to make on something you may use once, if ever (but consider the alternative – a big fire will end up costing you a lot more!)! Before you shell out all that cash, however, make sure you have a solid plan in place to protect your investment – schedule Houston fire pump testing and maintenance so your fire pump will provide years of effective fire protection!
A fire pump testing and maintenance plan needs to involve frequent checkups – weekly, monthly, semiannually and annually. While many steps of fire pump maintenance must be completed by a professional fire services company, there are some steps that you can do on your own.
Weekly Fire Pump Testing
Every week, you should conduct a fire pump “dry run.” Basically, the point of a fire pump dry run is to simulate the fire pump kicking on in the event of a real fire. To perform a fire pump dry run, open a test line to drop the fire pump system pressure. This will simulate the drop in pressure caused by a fire sprinkler opening and will show you if the fire pump is capable of coming on as soon as it needs to.
Next, you’ll need to test the pump drivers. If you have a combustion engine-driven pump, run the engine at rated speed for at least a half hour with the pump discharging water through the circulation relief valve and into an open drain. If a half hour seems like a long time, it’s because the engine needs a full 20 minutes to warm up and to show any signs of problems (don’t worry – this doesn’t mean it will take 20 minutes for the pump to respond to a fire!). If you have an electric motor, you’ll only need to run it for five or ten minutes.
After you’ve run the pump drivers, you’ll need to verify that the pressure relief valves are operating properly – usually this just means that there’s no water being discharged through them (the valves are designed to prevent the system from getting too highly pressurized).
Next, check the pump temperature and make sure the pump casing and bearings are not overheating or showing signs of excess friction. Then, check the water supplies. To do this, check the suction tanks for obstructions and verify that drought or dry conditions have not reduced the water supply.
Finally, check the pump room temperature and make sure that it is between 40 F and 70 F.
Monthly Fire Pump Testing
Monthly fire pump testing is much less complicated – just check that the battery is properly charged!
Semi-annual Fire Pump Testing
Semi-annual fire pump testing is just as easy – just check the oil filter, and if it needs a new cartridge, replace it.
Annual Fire Pump Testing
Every annual fire pump test should start with all the weekly, monthly and semi-annual tests listed above.
Following that, check the water flow measurements as well as the suction and discharge pressure readings for several different flow volumes. This will help you evaluate pump performance over the years and let you identify deterioration in performance before any serious problems start. Note that a reduction in fire pump capacity of up to 10% is expected and acceptable – it’s just part of normal wear and tear.
With fire pump testing, it’s crucial that you don’t make any mistakes – the safety of your business could be at stake! If you want a professional Houston fire protection services company to help you perform weekly or annual fire pump tests, call Kauffman Co today! Our fire pump testing technicians will make sure your pump will always be able to keep you protected from fires.