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Residential fire sprinklers: Separating fact from fiction

Posted On Tue, May 14, 2013

Though homeowners may intuitively understand that home sprinkler systems helpĀ reduce the chance their property will be severely damaged after a fire, there are a number of myths out there suggesting that the water damage that results from sprinklers are more significant than what comes from flames.

But as the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety indicates, this assertion is wrong.

The IBHS has addressed many of these myths regarding residential fire sprinklers. Most notably is the suggestion that water damage is more impactful than fire damage. In reality, IBHS asserts that sprinklers prevent a fire from spreading. And as the National Fire Protection Association points out, the temperatures that fires emit are capable of causing major destruction as wood burns at 575 degrees Fahrenheit and glass melts at 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another mischaracterization about residential sprinkler systems is that they're too expensive. IBHS says that having one installed is no more costly than other renovations homeowners regularly do, such as installing wall-to-wall carpeting, resurfacing a driveway or upgrading a kitchen's cabinets. In fact, a highly effective system can be installed for less than $1.65 for every square foot of a residential property.

Something else that homeowners may have a false impression about regarding sprinklers is that they act as a unit. In other words, should a fire take place in one room, all of the sprinklers activate, causing water damage in parts of the house that were isolated from the fire threat. IBHS says that fire sprinklers have advanced in efficiency and the spigots operate individually.

What happens to be true about residential fire sprinklers is that they generally lead to lower home insurance rates for policyholders. Depending on the insurer, they can bring discounts of between 5 and 15 percent.

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