Profile picture for acmedia

Is a home sprinkler system (for fires) worth getting?

Just watched a documentary on TV about luxury homes burning down, and that's prompted me to ask what people think about sprinkler systems, whether they're worth retro-fitting, or whether the cost versus the chance of getting a fire means it's a waste.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 19 2010 - Fremont
We think we've answered this question for you!
  • Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.
 
 

Answers (15)

Yes, but only in fire prone areas.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
August 08 2010

It depends on how much you value your life and the life of your family members!

I'm a home inspector, career firefighter & fire cause and origin investigator.

Smoke and CO alarms alert you to a problem.  Sprinkler systems put the fire out or contain it until the fire department arrives.  50 years ago furniture, draperies and carpert were made of natural fibers which burned slower and produced much less heat.  Today everything is synthetic (oil based) which burns much faster and hotter and produces much more thick black smoke.

The HRR (Heat Release Rate) of combustibles has increased ten-fold.  A room reaches "flashover" at 1100 degrees.  Once this temp is reached everything in the room ignites.  Everone in the room, including firemen in full protective clothing, is DEAD!  Nobody survives a flashover.  It used to take 20-25 minutes to reach flashover, now with synthetics it takes as little as 3 minutes.  No fire department will be able to respond and deploy hoselines in 3 minutes. 

A sprinkler system reduces the rate of burning and toxic gasses emitted giving you and your family a fighting chance to escape.  And they actually use less water than firemen with hoses!

There has not been a recorded fatality in a sprinklered home!

Yes it is more expensive to install after initial construction.
No you probably won't recoup your entire "financial" investment. 
Yes it will require maintenance.
Yes it may just save your life or the life of your loved ones!

I hope you install it, maintain it and never have to find out if it works!

www.911inspections.com

  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
August 08 2010
Profile picture for Mr Caveat
actually, i'm pretty sure that the CO2 triggers your body to conserve 02, and oxygen isnt eliminated from the room, just reduced to a point where the fire doesnt have enough O2 to burn wood and curtains for fuel which requires the rapid combustion of substantial amounts of oxygen.

the system operates at an equilibrium.

and it makes sense, when you think about how much energy is required to constantly generate that much heat and expand so quickly. the bigger danger is still carbon monoxide which is still present in the atmosphere and with you taking longer, deeper breaths because of the gas...
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 26 2010
Retro-fiting would be costly and a real pain.
If your area requires it for new construction that is another thing
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 24 2010
Halon and CO2 gas extinguishers are great systems, but what if its a false alarm, are they not both designed to remove the oxygen that feeds a fire? even if there is a fire, what if you are caught somehow, and die, not because of the fire, but because of asphixiation?
Perhaps I should just stick to doing loans....at least a water sprinkler will wake you up and get you out of the house!  Jim, HSOA.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 23 2010
Profile picture for the_country_hick
Halon used to be available.It was a gas similar to freon. i believe it was banned but could be wrong. If you could use a co2 (or other compressed gas) bottle system instead of water it might be a solid idea. It would remove the oxygen so no fire could grow. It would not soak everything in sight. Price wise, I do not know.

It is a great advantage compared to having everything you own destroyed. Even if the insurance company pays you to replace everything not everything is really replaceable. I would far rather have 18" of a house burned compared to the whole house. Alarms are great, but stop nothing.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 23 2010
Profile picture for SoCal_Engr
We have a sprinkler system in our house, and I would get rid of it if I could. When construction began on our development, the local firestation was not yet complete - so the city required the sprinklers.

The heads themselves are concealed, but...

  - We have a backflow system to isolate the sprinkler systems from the rest of the house. This needs to be tested annually.
  - We have a key to test the sprinkler system. Supposed to do this once every year or two. Have yet to hear anyone in our neighborhood actually test theirs.
  - The backflow valves are an eyesore on the street. We've all gotten used to them, but they also are just one more thing for kids to run into - or jump off of. Repairing the backflow valves is not uber-expensive, but it's not cheap either.
  - Wanted to move the backflow valve for aesthetics and safety. Cost to move was about $2K-$3K.

If the system ever does go off, everything inside the house will be a total looss - no matter what happens due to the fire.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 22 2010
In many cities and counties they are required now when you remodel.  New home construction also requires sprinkler systems in many areas, but not all.  Call your local city for information about your home.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 22 2010
Profile picture for Mr Caveat
they will do as much damage as the fire in any home not designed for a fire suppression system. drywall, carpets and underpads, electronics and photos, documents... its a lot more involved than retrofitting the sprinkler.  you will also notice a huge upfront cost that really has no or little return in real life. homeowners ins pays for fire damage in most cases. i agree that a security system with heat sensors provides early warning with better risk/reward. they also make rope ladders for second stories that are fire resistant and cost effective. a fire resistant blanket in every bedroom and a fire extinguisher in every kitchen and bathroom might also be good investments for the safety conscious
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 22 2010
I must vote no on this one. Its one of those things people don't give much thought to. An insurance company may give a rate reduction for it, but a home buyer doesn't have a fire on their mind when looking at a home. What they want are attractive features they can see, experience, and enjoy.
 
Best Wishes.
Brent Fosso
Coldwell Banker Realtor
[link removed by moderator]
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 21 2010
A sprinkler system is more about piece of mind then recouping the value of the installation.  If it will help you sleep better at night then go ahead.  It will cost more to install then you will get back when you sell.  It does however lower your homeowners insurance in most cases.  
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 20 2010
Fire sprinklers are designed to give occupants time to get out the house. If you go with a system, I recommend using the concealed heads.  They are better looking and may lend themselves to not being whacked by a kids soccer ball.  I would suggest you consider a good reliable security system with integrated smokes and possible heat detectors in the garage.  Check the town code as some are required.  If money is the issue go with the alarm.  
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 20 2010
Profile picture for sunnyview
I would say no. Retrofitting can be expensive and honestly percentage wise few people die in house fires each year see here. It's sort of a cost benefit thing unless you have other factors to consider like being wheelchair bound or have a house that is far away from a fire department, an expensive irreplaceable art collection etc. The fire protection industry has lobbied hard to require systems in new buildings because the mark up on them is very high and you can hire installers for a little above minimum wage. Requiring sprinklers would be a boon for the industry and they have paid a lot of money to lobby for that change.

Sprinklers used to protect people are one thing, but to protect stuff it wouldn't be worth it based on the cost. On the upside though, some insurance policies will give you a discount for installing a sprinkler system.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 20 2010
I believe this is being added to the building codes and will be required starting soon.

I will be attending some MCE on this and other new codes, but it is worth it and it should save lives.

It will only spray in the room where the fire is located not like commercial systems, at least that is what I have read so for.

Good Luck!

James Callas - Realtor®
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 20 2010
Sort of a timely question with a funeral I recently attended - due to the unbelievably tragic events in your neighborhood of Fremont (the deadliest Seattle house fire in 40 years) - I've got to vote yes.
  Flag content
Close
Report a Problem

Please enter a valid email address.

Close
Content flagged

We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

Close
We're Sorry
This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.
July 19 2010
 
Related Questions
Is a home sprinkler system (for fires) worth getting?
Profile picture for Vince Curtis
Latest answer by Vince Curtis
August 08 2010 | 15 answers
Be A Good Neighbor

Zillow Advice depends on each member to keep it a safe, fun, and positive place. If you see abuse, flag it. More on our Good Neighbor Policy.

Homes for Sale
  1. 3637 Albion Pl N APT 105, Seattle, WA Home For Sale
    3637 Albion Pl N APT 105, Seattle, WA 98103

     For Sale: $424,500

    • Beds: 2
    • Sqft: 1388
    • Baths: 1.5
    • Lot: 10079
  2. 1550 N 38th St, Seattle, WA Home For Sale
    1550 N 38th St, Seattle, WA 98103

     For Sale: $600,000

    • Beds: 2
    • Sqft: 1820
    • Baths: 2.0
    • Lot: 3008
  3. 4607 Woodlawn Ave N, Seattle, WA Home For Sale
    4607 Woodlawn Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

     For Sale: $597,000

    • Beds: 3
    • Sqft: 2320
    • Baths: 1.5
    • Lot: 2712