Fire Damper Installation: Key Considerations and Installation Techniques
Fire dampers are critical components in buildings, specifically in HVAC systems, that work to keep the buildings safe in case of a fire. They protect people and buildings from the effects of fire by preventing the spread of smoke, fire gasses, heat, and even flames, throughout the area served by the duct system.
This article will guide you through the process of fire damper installation and what to look for.
What is a Fire Damper?
A fire damper is a damper that has been designed to close automatically upon detection of heat, that will interrupt the airflow and restrict the passage of flame. They are installed in ducts passing through walls, floors, partitions, and other fire resistance–rated assemblies. Fire dampers are equipped with a fire-sensitive element, often a fusible link, that will melt or otherwise react to a flame. When the link is triggered, the fire damper closes either due to gravity, a spring, or other force.
When a duct passes through a UL-approved wall assembly, a fire damper must be used in the ductwork as it passes through the wall. Without a fire damper, the fire-rated wall would have a critical weakness that could allow fire to quickly spread through a building. The fire damper, when selected and installed correctly, allows the wall to maintain its fire rating.
Fire dampers can be installed in dynamic HVAC systems, which continue to run in the event of a fire, or static HVAC systems, which are designed to stop the movement of air at the indication of a fire. Non-critical HVAC systems typically disable their fans when smoke is detected, to allow the static fire dampers to operate properly. Static fire dampers are cheaper and easier to maintain and inspect than dynamic fire dampers.
Fire Damper Installation Process
Installation of a fire damper is not overly complicated, but it is critical that proper steps are followed to meet code and keep the building safe. There are many codes and standards that apply to fire damper selection, installation, and testing. Always refer to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for clarification and further details.
Before you begin installing fire dampers, it is crucial to understand the applicable codes and standards. These guidelines, such as NFPA 101® and NFPA 5000®, can help map out provisions for safe and successful damper installation. They dictate where fire dampers are required, their ratings, access, identification requirements, and more. These standards also typically outline how fire dampers are to be inspected and tested before the building can be occupied.
The first and most important step is to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions. Fire dampers must be installed in accordance with these instructions and their listing. Without proper installation, fire dampers will not operate properly and the building will not be protected as intended.
Fire dampers must carry a fire rating equal to or greater than the penetration where they are installed. United Enertech offers fire dampers that are UL-classified for installation in walls, floors, and partitions with a fire rating of either 1 ½ hours or 3 hours. They also offer both static and dynamic dampers. Most dynamic fire dampers can be installed either vertically or horizontally in dynamic HVAC systems that continue to run in the event of a fire.
All fire dampers must be installed in a sleeve. The sleeves can be integral to the fire damper, purchased separately, or field constructed as long as other pertinent requirements are met. United Enertech has optional sleeves for many of their fire dampers to aid in proper installation.
Access to both fire and smoke dampers is required for inspection, testing, and maintenance. It's crucial that access points do not affect the integrity, continuity, or rating of the assembly where they are located. The access points must also be provided with permanent identification indicating the type of damper.
After the damper has been installed, it must undergo an operational test to ensure that the damper has been installed correctly, is fully functional, closes completely without obstructions, and contains all the correct components and devices as part of its assembly. The damper must fully close under both normal HVAC airflow and non-airflow conditions. Passing the operational tests is often a minimum requirement for a building to gain occupancy.
Why Choose United Enertech Fire Dampers?
Fire and smoke dampers are a critical part of building and life safety equipment. Without them, fire and smoke could travel throughout the building to spaces otherwise untouched by the fire. Proper installation is essential so that the fire dampers can operate as designed should a fire strike.
United Enertech fire dampers are a reliable choice for your fire protection needs. They are UL-classified for installation in many different installation types, applications, and fire ratings. Their damper offering provides options for many different building and HVAC applications.
When it comes to building safety and protecting lives, United Enertech provides reliable protection in the face of danger. To learn more, reach out to the fire damper experts at United Enertech today!