Over the course of their lives, your fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems will need to be properly maintained. This means performing regular tests to ensure that they are functioning efficiently and that your business is protected. There are a variety of regular tests to consider, but one of the most important is hydrostatic testing, which checks for the structural integrity of the vessels that make up your fire suppression system.
What Is Hydrostatic Testing?
Fire extinguishers and suppression tanks are required to be hydrostatic tested every 12 years. It is important that you conduct a hydrostatic stress test before putting a fire extinguisher or suppression tank to use. Hydrostatic testing, or hydro testing, will find all the strengths and weaknesses of the vessel, including leaks and deformities that could cause malfunction.
How is a Hydrostatic Test Done?
During the initial portion of a hydro test, vessels are checked for any superficial leaks or damage during a visual inspection. If the vessel appears okay, it is filled with water to ensure that there are no invisible leaks present. If the vessel fails either of these initial inspections, the hydrostatic test will not continue as repair or replacement will be necessary.
During the actual hydrostatic test, your fire extinguisher or suppression tank will be filled with water or oil and then pressurized to test the shell for integrity. Once the shell is pressurized to approximately 150% of its normal capacity, the supply valve is closed off to test for any pressure losses or vessel deformations. Sometimes the liquid is colored to make it easier to see.
The hydrostatic test for any individual vessel takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes, assuming there is no damage. Once the vessel passes the hydrostatic test, it is dried and labeled to indicate when the test was performed.
Hydrostatic Testing Equipment
Hydrostatic testing equipment differs depending on the vessels being testing and the locale. Some hydrostatic testing equipment is portable and can be taken out into the field for efficient and convenient hydro testing onsite. However, some pumps and water jackets, which are the main components of the hydrostatic testing equipment required, are too unwieldy to travel and vessels must be taken to an off site testing location.
Hydro Testing Safety Considerations
During a hydrostatic test, your fire extinguisher or suppression tank will be pressurized to a higher than normal operating pressure. This high pressure will show whether the fire extinguisher or fire suppression tank has become structurally weakened. If a fire extinguisher or suppression tank has weakened, it could fail, leak, or explode when used.
It is important that a hydro test of fire extinguishers and/or suppression tanks is performed at least every 12 years per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to avoid dangerous situations resulting in a system becoming inoperable.
If your fire extinguishers or fire suppression tanks are overdue for a hydrostatic test, be sure to contact 360 Services today.
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