Many log home owners select their home sites and building locations for their remoteness and privacy.  However when a fire occurs, you may find that your private location is miles and many dangerous minutes away from fire fighting equipment and personnel. Most local and state building codes require smoke detectors, as well as wide driveways and access roads for fire trucks.  Some areas are also beginning to consider adding a requirement for sprinkler systems to new residential construction.

When you look at the statistics, the investment makes sense, especially if your household includes older residents or children, who are the most vulnerable. Every 90 seconds a home fire is reported in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), eight out of 10 fire fatalities occur where Americans feel safest — in their own homes. Industry statistics indicate that installing a smoke alarm in your home cuts your chance of perishing in a fire by 50%. Installing a residential sprinkler system increases your survival rate to 97%.

Many homeowners shy away from sprinkler systems because of outdated perceptions that no longer apply to the modern sprinkler systems available today.  The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has helpful information for consumers considering adding continuous fire protection to their log home.  Here  are some advantages to adding  a home sprinkler system to your log home.

  • Reduced water damage resulting from a fire. When compared to fire hoses, a sprinkler system uses only a small fraction of the amount of water to contain a fire.  According to the Scottsdale Report, a 15-year study of fire sprinkler effectiveness, a fire sprinkler uses, on average, 341 gallons of water to control a fire. Firefighters, on average, use 2,935 gallons of water.
  • Modern systems limit discharge to the room where the fire is occurring and accidental discharges are rare.  Modern sensors and system design will minimize sprinkler discharge to where it is needed. Sprinkler mishaps are generally less likely and less severe than accidents involving home plumbing systems.
  • Home sprinkler systems can increase the value of your home and reduce insurance rates. By one estimate, adding a sprinkler system, along with other safety precautions can reduce your insurance bill by five to 15 percent, depending on the carrier.

How does a sprinkler system work in a log home?

Like other systems in your home, it will take some planning to install a sprinkler system in your log home. According to Maynard Pelletier, owner of Maine Fire Protection Systems in Bangor, Me., log homes pose unique challenges for sprinkler system installation.  Sprinklers must be placed within six inches of the highest point in the room, usually near the peak of the cathedral ceiling and spaced away from trusses.

You’ll want to coordinate with your fire safety professional, plumber and security company to determine the best application and type of system.  Sprinkler units are much smaller and can be recessed into plasterboard interior walls and ceilings.  In non-public spaces where coverage is critical, such as furnace rooms, kitchens, laundries and bedrooms the piping can be painted to match surrounding features or enclosed in framing to be less noticeable. The actual sprinkler heads must remain paint free to maintain sensitivity to fire. A sprinkler system could also be incorporated in the roof system if you use a glycol loop to keep the water from freezing in colder climates. Like any system in your home, sprinkler systems should be inspected regularly, according to Pelletier, including any glycol loops.

If you have doubts about the visual effect of sprinklers, pay a visit to a fine restaurant or commercial office space and try to find the sprinklers.

Sprinkler units can be found in many different forms, including traditional copper tubing, plastic or PEX tubing. While some systems require a separate holding tank, one company, Uponor,has developed a home sprinkler system that can be plumbed into the domestic water system that feeds faucets and toilets. Uponor uses flexible PEX tubing for easy and safe installation with a 25-year warranty.

You may find that including a sprinkler system as part of your overall household safety is a wise investment.