Checking a properties fire safety before buying


Checking a properties fire safety before buying


When you are planning to buy a building, you will want to know about its condition. This information is going to assist in avoiding expenses and problem issues in the years ahead. One way of doing this is to get a pre-purchase property inspection report. This report is sometimes called a standard property report. This report is a written report on the condition of the property. This condition might be rising damp or cracks in the walls which are caused by movement. It will also include the roof and safety. You need this report which is intended to avoid you wasting money of a defective building. It is not designed to be used to certify that the building complies with any laws. Nor is it a guarantee, warranty, or insurance policy against any future problems.


When inspecting a building one of the most critical systems, even though it is least used, is the fire protection system. It is a system that once installed, is often forgotten until one day maybe years later it is needed. Then, unfortunately, it is too late to fix it.


The mechanical and electronic components in a fire protection system are easily tested, but there is one element that is overlooked as it has been relatively hard to inspect. That element is the pipe system that carries the water around the building’s sprinkler system. It is not possible to check this from a purely visual inspection.


Over the years there may have been a build-up of calcium or rust in the pipes. This is gradually blocking or restricting the pipe and its ability to deliver the volume of water required. It is difficult to see inside pipes and often the only way people find out that the tubes are blocked when tragedy occurs, or renovations are carried out that require the dismantling of the fire protection system. It is then that people realise with horror that the build-up inside the pipes is such that the water flow is almost blocked, or even completely blocked.


There has been a change in pipework used in recent years. Builders are using thinner piping, lower quality, and thinner, all with a higher possibility of corrosion. This change means that the fire system’s water distribution system is even less reliable.


Occasionally, a visual inspection may be done, but this almost always takes place in a location that is easily accessible and will only show the state of the pipe in that one spot. Looking into a pipe may allow the inspector to see if there is an obstruction. It does not tell the inspector how thin the wall of the pipe are. Nor does it tell if there are any faults hidden under the build-up.


So what is the solution? How can the pipe system be assessed more accurately? Fortunately, recent advances in Ultrasonics have developed ways of measuring the wall loss in a pipe. The amount of wall that is lost is directly in proportion to the build-up of deposits inside the pipe.  It does this by broadcasting a high-frequency sound wave though the pipe and gives a super-accurate measurement of the wall thickness.

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