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Wet or Dry? Which is the Right Sprinkler System for You?

dry sprinkler system

You need a good sprinkler system to protect your building. Otherwise, a fire might destroy inventory, equipment, the foundation, or even the whole building. But how do you know whether to use a wet sprinkler system or a dry sprinkler system? 

Read on to learn more about the difference between wet and dry sprinkler systems and which system will work best for your building. 

What Is a Wet Sprinkler System?

In a wet sprinkler system, the most common type, the pressurized pipes hold water at all times. When the heat reaches the system, it triggers a valve that releases the water. Water sprays out immediately. It’s a very effective way of putting out a fire.

What Is a Dry Sprinkler System?

A dry pipe sprinkler system also uses water, but the main piping contains pressurized nitrogen instead of water. A valve held closed by the nitrogen separates the main piping from the water supply.

When heat triggers the sprinkler head, it opens a valve to let the nitrogen escape from the piping. This lowers the pressure in the pipes, allowing the water to flow out. The water takes about 60 seconds to reach the sprinkler head and spray onto the fire.

Which Sprinkler System Should You Use?

Wet and dry sprinkler systems both have pros and cons. You will need to base your choice on different factors such as cost, performance, and maintenance.


Wet sprinkler systems, the most common systems, are the most affordable. Since this system is the most basic type, it also is the most reliable. 

A dry fire sprinkler system has more parts than a wet system, making it more expensive. The pipes also need to be pitched to keep water out of the system, raising the cost of the installation.


The water-filled pipes in a wet sprinkler system can freeze at low temperatures. Therefore, you cannot use wet sprinkler systems in locations where the temperature can drop below 40 degrees F.

In a dry sprinkler system, the only water contained in the system comes from the main water supply. Since the network of sprinkler pipes contains no water, the pipes cannot freeze. Dry systems must be used in unheated or cold locations such as warehouses, exposed garages, freezer storage, or drive-through loading areas.

Water Release Time

A wet sprinkler system can release water immediately since the pipes already contain water. A dry sprinkler system can take up to 60 seconds to spray out water since the gas must first run out of the system and allow the water to flow through the pipes.


Both sprinkler systems require maintenance. In fact, 44% of sprinkler system failures can be attributed to a lack of maintenance. 

However, a dry system requires more maintenance than a wet system. This is because the steel pipes can corrode if water enters the system, such as in a humid environment. A dry system must be inspected more frequently, and the pipes may need to be replaced if they rust.

Install the Perfect System

Are you still deciding whether to use a wet sprinkler system or a dry sprinkler system? Contact United Fire to find answers to your questions and install the best system for your needs. 







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