This article originally appeared in a December 2014 supplement to Builder Magazine.
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Home fire sprinklers are being installed in thousands of new one- and two-family homes each year throughout the country. This trend is the result of communities upgrading codes, passing ordinances, and homeowners requesting fire sprinklers as an option. Your sales force and real estate agents already know how to market homes to homebuyers. But even seasoned sales professionals need some basic information to sell a home protected by fire sprinklers.
Because sprinklers protect the home 24 hours a day, automatically, they are a boon for reaching out to today’s safety-conscious homebuyers. Sprinklers save lives and protect the homes you build by controlling or extinguishing fires fast, limiting the spread of deadly heat and toxic smoke.
The biggest myth is that all sprinklers go off at once when a fire breaks out or that smoke from burned toast can set off a sprinkler. Each sprinkler has a heat-sensitive element. That element breaks, releasing the water when the temperature reaches between 135–165 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke, cooking vapors, or steam cannot cause the sprinkler to activate.
In a home with sprinklers:
• Only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates
• Water from the sprinkler contains or extinguishes fire
• Residents have time to safely escape
• Surrounding rooms are protected from fire, heat, and smoke damage
In a home without sprinklers:
• Flames grow and spread
• Heat and toxic gases spread room to room
• In as few as three minutes, the fire becomes deadly
• Flashover occurs and gases and combustible materials burst into flames
Make sprinklers a selling point
There are several types of sprinklers made for homes; some are installed on walls and others in ceilings. They can even be concealed by a plate. Home fire sprinklers are much smaller and lower-profile than the types of sprinklers used in commercial properties. In many rooms, only one sprinkler is needed to protect the space; larger rooms may need two sprinklers. Sprinklers typically cover an area up to 12 x 12 feet, with an extended fire sprinkler covering up to a 20 x 20 foot area.
According to a recent Harris Poll®, when homeowners are educated on the dangers of today’s fire and the life-saving benefits of sprinklers, they will be more inclined to ask for them. Be sure to promote the benefits of living in a home protected by sprinklers, just as you would a security system, central air, custom kitchen, or master suite, in listing materials, advertising, open houses, virtual tours, and other presentations.
Maintenance is a snap
Sprinklers require very little maintenance. It’s essential to keep the water valve turned on, so a simple visual inspection should be done routinely to ensure it’s open. (Keeping the valve padlocked in the "on" position is a good idea.) Pipes and sprinklers should be inspected occasionally to make sure nothing is obstructing them.
A water flow test, a simple test that can be done by the homeowner or a fire sprinkler contractor, should also be done on a regular basis.
Contact a local sprinkler contractor or your local fire department to answer questions for prospective buyers and home inspectors. Your sales force can also visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition site for information, videos, and other resources on home fire sprinklers.