Painted Sprinklers Return to Blog
An Informal Interpretation from the American Fire Sprinkler Association
“We have found a site that while the glass bulb or fusible element has not been painted, there is some paint on the arm or at the threads into the pipe. The base of the fusible element is free and clear of any paint as is the glass bulb and the fusible linkage. Is a sprinkler with paint as noted required to be changed out as a painted head?”
We have reviewed NFPA 25, 2014 Edition as the applicable standard. Our informal interpretation is the sprinkler should not have to be replaced. Section 220.127.116.11.2 states: “Any sprinkler that shows signs of any of the following shall be replaced:
(3) Physical damage
(4) Loss of fluid in the glass bulb heat-responsive element
(6) Painting unless painted by the sprinkler manufacturer”
A literal application of this section indicates that the sprinkler must be replaced. However, a bump of the roller or brush resulting in paint on the frame arm or threads should not affect the operation of the sprinkler. The concern is paint applied to the seat or cap where the paint can act like an adhesive. Paint on the fusible element or glass bulb can have an insulating effect and delay activation. A heavy coat of paint on the deflector that changes the deflector shape could affect the spray pattern and should be replaced.
Additional new text on corrosion supports this interpretation. A.18.104.22.168.2(2) states: “Corrosion found on the seat, or built up on the deflector that could affect the spray pattern, or a buildup on the operating elements that could affect the operation can have a detrimental effect on the performance of the sprinkler. Light surface corrosion on the boss, frame arms, and/or the deflector, and/or surface discoloration, not impacting the operation of the sprinkler should not warrant replacement.” The impact of corrosion or a light coating of paint is effective the same.
Testing could be conducted in order to provide definitive proof of acceptable operation but it is not necessary in this instance since paint is located on the threads and frame arm. The bottom line is this will be a field judgment with appropriate discussions with the AHJ. The sprinkler should be replaced if there is any doubt it will operate as intended.