Dry Pipe Systems

Dry pipe systems are installed in spaces in which the ambient temperature may be cold enough to freeze the water in a wet pipe system, rendering the system inoperable. Dry pipe systems are most often used in unheated buildings, in parking garages, in outside canopies attached to heated buildings (in which a wet pipe system would be provided), or in refrigerated coolers. Dry pipe systems are the second most common sprinkler system type. In regions using NFPA regulations, dry pipe systems cannot be installed unless the range of ambient temperatures reaches above 40F.

Operation – Water is not present in the piping until the system operates. The piping is filled with air below the water supply pressure. To prevent the larger water supply pressure from forcing water into the piping, the design of the dry pipe valve (a specialized type of check valve) results in a greater force on top of the check valve clapper by the use of a larger valve clapper area exposed to the piping air pressure, as compared to the higher water pressure but smaller clapper surface area.


When one or more of the automatic sprinklers is exposed, for a sufficient time, to a temperature at or above the temperature rating, it opens,allowing the air in the piping to vent from that sprinkler. Each sprinkler operates individually. As the air pressure in the piping drops, the pressure differential across the dry pipe valve changes, allowing water to enter the piping system. Water flow from sprinklers, needed to control the fire, is delayed until the air is vented from the sprinklers. In regions using NFPA 13 regulations, the time it takes water to reach the hydraulically remote sprinkler from the time that sprinkler is activated is limited to a maximum of 60 seconds. In industry practice, this is known as the “Maximum Time of Water Delivery.” The maximum time of water delivery may be required to be reduced, depending on the hazard classification of the area protected by the sprinkler system.

Some property owners and building occupants may view dry pipe sprinklers as advantageous for protection of valuable collections and other water sensitive areas. This perceived benefit is due to a fear that wet system piping may slowly leak water without attracting notice, while dry pipe systems may not fail in this manner.

Check Valve

A check valve, clack valve, non-return valve or one-way valve is a valve that normally allows fluid (liquid or gas) to flow through it in only one direction.

Check valves are two-port valves, meaning they have two openings in the body, one for fluid to enter and the other for fluid to leave. There are various types of check valves used in a wide variety of applications. Check valves are often part of common household items. Although they are available in a wide range of sizes and costs, check valves generally are very small, simple, or inexpensive. Check valves work automatically and most are not controlled by a person or any external control; accordingly, most do not have any valve handle or stem. The bodies (external shells) of most check valves are made of plastic or metal.

An important concept in check valves is the cracking pressure which is the minimum upstream pressure at which the valve will operate. Typically the check valve is designed for and can therefore be specified for a specific cracking pressure.