Why do Fire Protection Systems Require Check Valves?

Check valve in a riser room

Understanding Check Valves for Fire Protection Systems

Fire sprinkler systems and any fire protection equipment that use water are connected to at least one source of water. Multiple water sources are commonly used to ensure water is available for the sprinklers in the event of a fire. Common sources are municipal water, gravity-driven water tanks, and fire department connections, it is important to ensure that water from within the sprinkler system doesn’t backflow into the municipal drinking water or cause a pressure build-up within the water pumps. A check valve will prevent backflow from the sprinkler system to the source(s). 

How do Check Valves Work? 

A check valve connects each water source to the fire sprinkler system. This valve only opens in one direction, allowing water to flow from the source, into the pipes for the sprinklers. If the flow of water stops or tries to reverse, the clapper seals the valve, preventing any backflow. 

Spring Check Valves vs Swing Check Valves

Two of the most commonly used valves are spring check and swing check valves. A swing check valve stops the backflow of water with a flapper that swings open and closed allowing the water to flow in one direction. This type of valve is limited to horizontal flow orientation, limiting the applications where it can be used. 

A spring check valve employs a spring to assist in closing the valve to prevent flow reversal. Spring check valves can be used in either vertical or horizontal applications with the correct spring selection. These valves are considered silent check valves as they use the spring to assist the poppet to close the check valve. 

Western States Fire Protection 

Western States Fire Protection will ensure that your system is equipped with all the proper safety features including check valves for the safety and longevity of your system. Our team has the experience and expertise to educate you and your staff on all of your fire protection inquiries and more! We offer customized fire sprinkler systems that are designed and built to last. 

Contact WSFP today for service inquiries, inspections, or a quote on a new or retrofitted fire sprinkler, suppression, or alarm system! With over forty locations across the Western United States, we can provide you with the premier fire protection service and support.