Knowing the importance of fire damper testing is essential to assuring your home and office buildings remain safe. Once the installation of your HVAC system is complete, its upkeep and routine inspections are imperative. Our team at Lloyd Industries is here to share the answers to our most frequently asked questions regarding:
- Fire damper basics
- How often should fire dampers be tested?
- What do HVAC tests entail?
Fire Damper 101
A fire damper is a type of passive fire protection product in a building’s air conditioning, heating, and ventilation (HVAC) ductwork. Preventative fire protection products, such as fire dampers, limit the amount of damage a fire may potentially cause a building. These products are typically hidden within walls, floors, and ceilings, integral to a building’s safety.
During a fire, a properly working fire damper activates, closing the blades within it and preventing smoke and flames from entering the HVAC system. These blades can activate in multiple ways; smoke detection or integration with your fire alarm system.
How Often Should Fire Damper Testing Occur?
Upon installation by a licensed contractor or HVAC expert, each damper must undergo a thorough inspection. Local and state inspection codes may vary, and the frequency between your HVAC inspections may depend on your industry. However, following installation, a fire damper must be tested after one year, regardless of the industry or building type. This follow-up inspection ensures the proper functioning of the fire damper. Once your one-year review is successful, your fire dampers will typically follow a routine testing schedule of once every four years for a non-healthcare facility. Hospitals require routine inspections once every six years.
What to Expect During a Fire Damper Inspection
Always consult a professional to conduct your HVAC inspection. When your inspector arrives to test your system, there are essential items they will test, including:
- Locate and operate every fire damper in your building by removing and resetting the link that ensures each damper will close entirely in the event of a fire.
- Make a note of the locations of each damper on a map for accuracy.
- The actuator will manually activate all smoke dampers to ensure it closes completely.
Your inspector will provide you with a detailed report that includes:
- The location of each damper
- Each damper’s identification number
- The damper’s pass or fail status
- A detailed explanation of why any damper has received a failed status
Many companies will provide you with their before and after photos of each damper, inspection summary, and additional notes or recommendations.
Building Codes and Fire Damper Inspections
If your installation is for a brand-new building, it’s vital to discuss applicable local and state fire codes with your contractor or government officials before occupying your building. Building codes may vary from state to state and sometimes across municipalities, so be thorough to avoid any delays in your building passing its overall occupancy inspection.
The routine maintenance and testing of your HVAC system are vital to ensure your building has a proper fire protection plan in place, should it need one.