Sprinkler systems are the best protection against commercial property damage, right? That could be a false sense of security: sprinkler systems fail nearly 10 percent of the time. Unfortunately, two Paul Davis customers fell into that unlucky 10 percent during the extraordinary Texas cold snap earlier this year. No flames were involved. The sprinklers caused the damage. 

“Two of our commercial customers – a restaurant and a daycare – experienced widespread water damage when their sprinkler systems froze and burst,” remarks Jim Thoma, Vice President of Contents with Paul Davis Restoration of North Dallas. “We removed and replaced large areas of commercial carpet in the restaurant. The daycare required very careful treatment of furniture and contents to safeguard its very sensitive population. These incidents were unpleasant reminders that sprinkler systems sometimes don’t work as intended.”

Thoma ticked off the top five reasons why sprinkler systems don’t function as intended:

  1. Human Error: People shut off these systems for a variety of reasons. The building is vacant, for example, or the system has a history of leaks and is awaiting repair. Sometimes maintenance workers shut off the water, not realizing that the sprinkler system shuts down, too. 
  1. Built to Fail: Sprinklers may leak due to manufacturing or installation error. For instance, many systems still rely on outdated 0-rings that were recalled way back in 2001. Installation may be faulty, too. These are complex systems that require a high level of professional skill to design and install. Economizing on system price or installer experience isn’t advised.
  1. Old and Tired: These systems require regular maintenance – pipes leak, gaskets age, valves seize – and eventual replacement. Even the best system isn’t designed to last as long as the building it protects.
  1. In the way: Collateral damage is surprisingly common with these system components: hitting sprinklers accidentally with forklifts and other equipment, vandalism, hanging items from sprinkler heads.
  1. Victim of the Elements: Freezing – particularly in temperate regions that don’t often drop below freezing – is a risk for system failure, as these Texas customers painfully learned. Systems in southern regions often aren’t designed and built to protect pipes in exterior walls, shield valves, etc.

Like every job Paul Davis teams perform, these projects taught valuable lessons about caring completely for customers. “Here, we built closer relationships with insurance and contractor partners, applied new techniques for allocating equipment and people to ensure total coverage and more,” comments Paul Davis Restoration of North Dallas Sales Director Emily Tomasik. “Our customers learned important new lessons, too: that disasters can stem from unlikely sources and that Paul Davis will always be there to help them recover.”

Need help with property damage? Call your local Paul Davis office or 844-215-7898 for help.