Quality and Service Since 1936

Generally Speaking

News and Information about General Air Products Fire Protection and Industrial Equipment

  • Dry Air Proven to Mitigate Corrosion in Dry and Pre-Action Sprinkler Systems: An Alternative to Nitrogen Generators

    We put Dry Air to the test to find out just how much it can help deter corrosion in dry pipe and pre-action fire sprinkler systems.

    For decades, Dry Air has been used to fill dry pipe and pre-action fire sprinkler systems in special circumstances that necessitated the removal of moisture from standard compressed air entering the system – most commonly, freezer rooms. Specifically, our Dry Air Pac™ has been FM Approved and used for its prevention of ice plugs in freezer rooms and cold storage applications for almost 30 years.

    Dry Air Prevents corrosion in dry and pre-action fire sprinkler systems. Inside of a 13 year-old galvanized pipe sample (magnified) showing no evidence of corrosion when supervised by a General Air Products Dry Air Pac™.

    While freezer rooms and coolers are concerned with moisture removal to eliminate ice plugs, the rest of the dry pipe sprinkler industry’s primary concern has recently shifted toward corrosion prevention and mitigation. In response, the use of a number of corrosion mitigation methods, including nitrogen generators, has grown substantially. As a result, a number of high-end applications and long-standing structures are beginning to see the benefit of investing in protecting their pipes from corrosion.

    Here's the catch: not every dry pipe or pre-action fire sprinkler system is best served by a nitrogen generator. A number of factors limiting their effectiveness, efficiency and ROI include the life span of the building, the required maintenance cost, system leakage, and up-front cost of the nitrogen generator itself. This begs the question: is there an alternative for preventing corrosion in dry and pre-action fire sprinkler systems?

    Turns out, Dry Air Does Help Mitigate Corrosion

    General Air Products recently collected pipe samples straight from the field in sites around the country using our Dry Air Pacs – air compressor / air dryer packages - that are FM Approved for fire sprinkler systems. Those pipe samples were sent to a 3rd party metallurgical testing laboratory in Maryland to be investigated for signs of corrosion:

    Pipe Samples collected by General Air Products to test Dry Air for corrosion mitigating effected in fire sprinkler systems. Galvanized pipe sample, shown as collected.

    The results from the lab (Table 1) concluded that 3 of the 4 pipe samples, ranging from 3 – 13 years old, showed no signs of corrosion with the use of Dry Air as the supervisory gas. Where corrosion had occurred, was in exposed pipe on a salt water pier. Even then, the lab estimated the life expectancy of the pipe at 60 – 70 years until the occurrence of the first pinhole leak. By reducing the dew point in the fire sprinkler system to the standard -40°F that the Dry Air Pac™ is rated to provide, corrosion has been effectively mitigated in the piping network.

    Results form a 3rd party lab testing for corrosoin in pipe samples supervised by a General Air Products Dry Air Pac™. Table 1: Results form a 3rd party lab testing for corrosoin in pipe samples supervised by a General Air Products Dry Air Pac™.
    Pipe Samples collected by General Air Products to test Dry Air for corrosion mitigating effected in fire sprinkler systems. Inside of a 13-year old pipe sample, shown in as-split condition, showing a smooth surface and no evidence of corrosion having been supervised by Dry Air.

    Many more samples are currently being collected and evaluated to substantiate this finding in the field. The mounting evidence suggesting Dry Air may be an alternative method to nitrogen as a corrosion-inhibiting supervisory gas in dry pipe sprinkler systems is promising.

    If you would like to learn more about the corrosion mitigating effects of Dry Air, check out our latest white paper on the topic. If you have any questions about this research or how Dry Air or Nitrogen gas can help mitigate corrosion, please give us a call at 1-800-345-8207, or shoot us a comment down below!

  • VIDEO: The Importance of Certified Products in Fire Sprinkler Systems

    The International Fire Suppression Alliance highlights the need for fire protection industry professionals to demand product certification by reputable testing laboratories.

    The importance of designing fire sprinkler systems using properly certified products cannot be overstated - it’s why General Air Products carries UL Listings and FM Approvals on products across our Fire Protection lineup, including our air compressors, Dry Air Pacs™, and nitrogen generators.

    This 6-minute video produced by The International Fire Suppression Alliance, a General Air Products partner, details this importance – and brings to light some of the complications and potential dangers that come with using products that have not been properly certified in fire sprinkler systems.

    The International Fire Suppression Alliance (IFSA) is a not-for-profit association created in 1999 "to globally promote the use of effective water-based fire protection systems." To learn more about their mission, please visit their website.

  • Nitrogen Generator For My Fire Sprinkler System, Should I Install One?

    General Air Products fully automated, Nitro-G3 nitrogen generator. Our fully automated, Nitro-G3 Nitrogen Generator.

    Nitrogen Generators are an exceptional piece of technology for fire sprinkler systems… when installed in the right application. Corrosion science tells us that maintaining pipes with 98% nitrogen can increase the life of your pipes. In black iron pipes, nitrogen can increase the life up to 60 years. In galvanized pipes, nitrogen can increase the life up to 100 years. But is a nitrogen generator the right fit for every dry pipe or pre-action sprinkler system? The answer is no.

    Every system is different. The honest answer is that not all sprinkler systems will be best served with a nitrogen generator. More often than not, filling solutions like Compressed Air or Dry Air make more sense. At General Air Products, we just want to see you fit for the right piece of equipment. General Air Products is in the unique position to help you make the best choice - be it compressed air, dry air, or nitrogen.

    So, does a nitrogen generator make the most sense for your fire sprinkler system? Here are a few practical questions you can ask yourself when considering a dry pipe sprinkler filling solution like nitrogen:

    What is the intended lifespan of the building?

    Easy one. Is your building intended to be around for the next 60-100 years? If your answer is a no, does an investment in maintaining 98% nitrogen make the most sense? It may be time to consider other, less expensive alternatives.

    Does the facility have proper fire sprinkler maintenance practices in place for a nitrogen generator?

    This is the most important question here – and with good reason. N2 generators are much more sensitive systems than conventional air compressors and are in no way a substitute for maintenance. If a facility owner or manager neglects their sprinkler system to the point that it’s unusually leaky or problematic – to the point that they are regularly burning through air compressors – the situation will only get worse by adding an N2 generator to the mix. But nitrogen generators are not a miracle cure. Maintaining 98% nitrogen on a dry or pre-action sprinkler system takes regular maintenance on the unit and the sprinkler system as a whole.

    Does the cost of replacing pipe really exceed the cost of investing in and maintaining a nitrogen generator?

    Do the analysis. Run the numbers. How much does replacing pipe due to corrosion really cost your business? But keep in mind, you will have new maintenance expenses to factor in to properly maintain 98% nitrogen. An example of where nitrogen generators do make the most sense is when a facility is forced to shut down production in order to replace pipe due to corrosion (typically MIC-related). This creates additional opportunity cost that may make the investment in a nitrogen generator make sense. If you can relatively easily replace your pipe, with otherwise minimal disruption to your business or the building’s function, seeing the benefit of investing in a nitrogen generator may still be realized, but it may take longer than some might expect.

    General Air Products is here to help.

    The bottom line is there’s not often an easy answer when it comes to deciding to move ahead with the investment in a nitrogen generator. Some of these questions can (and should) lead to more questions. General Air Products is here to help. We’ve been filling dry pipe sprinkler systems for over 60 years with every piece of technology available, and our only goal is to see you fit with the right piece of equipment.

    Complete lineup of General Air Products Fire Sprinkler Filling Solutions, including Compressed Air, Dry Air, and Nitrogen Generators. General Air Products offers the most complete line of fire sprinkler filling solutions in the industry.

    Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-345-8207 to discuss your application!

  • General Air Products in the Community

    Recently, General Air Products had the opportunity to get involved in our community. Students at Owen J. Roberts High School came together to build a tiny house for a local organization as part of a school program to learn the basics of construction and design. There was one twist, though: The majority of the tiny house had to be built from reclaimed or repurposed materials. A tall order!

    With that in mind, General Air Products was thrilled to be able to donate fiberglass reinforced plastic paneling, insulation, and wood to help the students in this endeavor. The result of the students’ hard work can be seen in the included photo. We want to send a hearty congratulations to the kids of Owen J. Roberts High School. Thanks for letting General Air Products be a part of your project!

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