by Joan Leedy, Technical Director, Dyne Fire Protection Labs

To ensure compliance with NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Sprinklers, 2023 Edition, should sprinklers be tested or replaced at the frequency recommended by Table - Summary of Sprinkler System Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance? For example, when a standard sprinkler system has been installed for 50 years, is it the requirement to test or simply replace the heads?

Let’s take a closer look at what the standard recommends.

Section 5.3 of NFPA 25 recommends either replacement or testing of sprinklers at various intervals.

5.3.1 Sprinklers. Where required by Section 5.3, sample sprinklers shall be submitted to an approved testing laboratory for field service testing.

Furthermore, Annex A provides additional information:

A.3.1.1 Sprinklers should first be given a visual inspection in accordance with to determine if replacement is required. Sprinklers that have passed the visual inspection should then be laboratory tested for sensitivity and functionality.

In accordance with the statements above, if the sprinklers pass the visual inspection, replacement is not necessary and would likely be an unnecessary expense for building owners.

Here is a breakdown on the cost of replacement versus testing on an installed sprinkler system with 400 heads.

The following is data from Dyne on the number of heads that fail the testing requirement in NFPA 25.

*Excludes O-ring designs which have a historical failure rate of 54.0% and, therefore, should be replaced where discovered.

The likelihood of a sprinkler failing the laboratory testing is relatively small, less than 5% for most types of sprinklers.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Dyne Fire Protection Labs at or (800)632-2304.

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