Why don’t more home owners install fire sprinklers?

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Recently, The Kansas City Star argued that installing fire sprinklers in new homes is a no-brainer. Losing a home is one thing. Losing a family member? That’s on a different level.

Does it fall on the government to regulate fire-suppression sprinklers though? Maryland and California think it does, and both states have adopted fire-suppression regulations for new homes.

One of the major concerns of home owners considering fire sprinklers is the fire sprinkler’s ability to cause water damage. After all, a fire sprinkler’s entire point is to extinguish a fire with water. You could argue that if your home survives a fire and you’re left with water damage, at least your home survived. Sure, but that’s not a great enough argument to persuade all building owners to install sprinklers.

So the question remains: Why don’t more home owners install fire sprinklers?

1. Cost

On average, fire sprinklers cost $1.61 per square foot – a few thousand dollars for the average home. The state of Maryland notes that a typical 2-story dwelling with automatic fire sprinkler protection incurs about $20K in damage. However, the family is typically not displaced with the fire. Compare that to a home without fire sprinklers. The same home would incur about $300k in damamges.

2. Fear of Water Damage

If water damage is a fear of yours, check this out! One company, Plumis, has reinvented the fire sprinkler as we know it. The automist centers in on the source of the heat, and is installed on a wall rather than a sprinkler so that the water spray can be more direct.

“This has resulted in the creation of the Automist SmartScan, a smarter, cheaper alternative that can be installed or retrofitted into any building, uses less water than a traditional sprinkler system and therefore causes less water damage.”

3. Maintenance

Just like in ground sprinklers, backflow prevention devices are required on fire suppression sprinklers. This means there is annual maintenance fees for the system. Expect to pay less than 100 dollars a year for this test though.

Other than that, there really isn’t much maintenance for the average home fire sprinkler system.

4. Doubt of a fire being a “real” problem

This is probably the most real reason people don’t install fire sprinklers. When it comes to fires, most people haven’t been in one. It’s certainly not the top fear for most home owners. After all, 2015 showed that there were less than 400,000 residential fires that required fire department assistance in the United States. On average though, 7 people died daily from a U.S. home fire. That’s a very REAL number.

Fire might not be at the top of your risks, but at C3, we always advocate being proactive, rather than reactive. Consider installing fire-suppression sprinklers if you’re building or remodeling your home in the near future.

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