NFPA 13 SPRINKLER | Hydrostatic Testing Method with Template

Last Updated: August 16, 2023, by

If you refer to the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, commonly known as ‘NFPA 13’, Section notes:

All new or modified sprinkler installations, where the system working pressure* allows, should undergo a hydrostatic pressure test of no less than 200 psi [14 bar] for 2 hours with zero loss in pressure at the reference gauge or visual observation of a leak. This test should also include all equipment installed on the system and be conducted after the pre-functional testing checks have been completed.

*system working pressure up to 150 psi or 10 bar

πŸš€ Where there are areas of the system with a working pressure above 150 psi or 10 bar, then according to Section – those areas must be tested to the system working pressure + 50 psi or 3.4 Bar.

⚠️ If a pump is used on the system, then the test pressure should be determined by the ‘shut off pressure’ of the pump, excluding any limiting device settings or variable speed motors

For ease of understanding, we will concentrate on a pressure test that meets section 29.2.11, covering it below, including the sequence and steps used to inspect and hydraulically test a system.

πŸ”— If would like to read more on the pre-functional checks, see our article SPRINKLER PIPEWORK | Pre-Commissioning Checklist

Table of Contents

🟩 Why is a hydrostatic test completed on a Sprinkler System?

Apart from being a requirement of NFPA 13, a hydrostatic test is conducted to ensure that once the sprinkler system has been installed or modified and before being handed over/put into operation, the integrity of the installed system or modified areas is tested for strength, integrity, and overall reliability. Ensuring that there are no leaks, providing the operator with confidence.

🟩 Can hydrostatic testing cause damage to a system

Yes, hydrostatic testing of the sprinkler system can, if not completed by experienced operatives and engineers who fully understand the requirements, cause damage.

When conducting such a test, ensure that a full system evaluation has been completed and all risks analyzed.

🟩 Who will complete and validate the testing?

🟧 Testing

Due to the criticality of the system and being a life safety system, only engineers and operatives who are qualified and experienced in the works should conduct the testing.

🟧 Witnessing

Witnessing, where required, would usually be the responsibility of the client’s representative, the Commissioning Provider, or the Facility Management Department, and they should make themselves available when needed.

🟩 What medium is used?

Water or Air can be used when conducting the testing, depending on a couple of factors:

🟧 Water

Used in the majority of cases where there is no risk of freezing.

🟧 Air

Used where there is a risk of the water freezing due to ‘cold weather’.

⚠️ Only considered an ‘intermittent test; a hydrostatic test should be completed once temperatures allow.

🟩 What about additives, can they be used to test?

No, additives should not be used or added to the water when conducting the testing, this is to ensure that they don’t or can’t interfere with any potential leaks.

🟩 Does the testing method cover Deluge Systems?

Yes, the requirements cover a Deluge System, obviously ensuring that the open heads are removed and plugged/capped, replacing them after the testing has been completed.

πŸš€ See the below section on plugs/blanks.

🟩 Can you use plugs/blanks when testing?

Yes, if there is a need to remove and plug sensitive equipment, sprinkler heads, or deluge heads; this is acceptable as long as it is ensured that they are replaced after the testing has been completed.

πŸš€ Note: Once the plugs have been replaced, there is no requirement to conduct another test.

🟩 Health & Safety

As the testing involves pressurizing the sprinkler system to relatively high pressures, consideration should be given to the health and safety of the operatives and people near it.

Included below are points that should be considered:

  • Certification – Ensure that the testing is conducted by qualified personnel with the appropriate training and certifications.
  • General works – Pressurization and de-pressurization of the system, including connection of temporary valves and hoses.
  • PPE – Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to all personnel involved in the testing; we have noted more on this below.
  • Working at height – Use appropriate safety equipment and procedures to minimize the risk of working at height.
  • Hazards – Conduct appropriate risk assessments to identify potential hazards and develop appropriate control measures.
  • Equipment – Ensure that all equipment used in the testing is properly maintained and inspected before use.
  • Briefing – Conduct a briefing after the testing is completed to identify any issues or areas for improvement in the testing process.

🟩 Pressure testing codes, guidelines & regulations

To ensure that fire sprinkler system pressure testing is conducted per the requirements in the United States, several documents should be referred to. These would include:

🟩 Documentation required

Before any testing starts, there will be a need for specific documentation to be available such as:

  • Completed and approved checklists
  • Approved material submission,
  • Approved construction drawings showing the installation,
  • Completed and approved pre-functional testing checklist,
  • Agreed method statement or functional testing procedure,
  • Self-testing records [if a third party is witnessing the system],
  • Permit to work.
Sprinkler System Pressure Testing Procedure [MS Word]

SPRINKLER HYDRAULIC PRESSURE Testing Method Statement / Procedure Template based upon NFPA 13 and our article, in MS WORD format allowing editing and clean exporting for your full use.

#CC: 129b
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🟧 Delivery inspection checks

A complete check should ensure that the delivery meets the order and that the pipework, including any equipment, is not damaged or missing.

Any damaged or missing items should be notified to the supplier and delivery company immediately, with photographic evidence.

πŸ“Œ See the testing procedure template at the end of this article for an example

🟧 Storage inspection checks

If any pipework or materials are being placed into storage after delivery, there will usually be a project requirement to complete a storage inspection checklist.

This checklist will evaluate the space/area where the pipework will be kept and how it is stacked and stored to ensure it is clean, safe, and protected from damage and dirt before installation.

πŸ“Œ See the testing procedure template at the end of this article for an example

🟧 Installation and pre-commissioning inspection checks

Through the construction process and before any testing, there will be a requirement to conduct various installation and pre-commissioning checks covering:

  • Pre-Installation
  • Maintenance and access
  • Pre-commissioning

These can be quite detailed, especially for this type of work.

πŸ“Œ See the testing procedure template at the end of this article for an example

🟧 Approved material submissions

Although it seems excessive, the approved material submission is a valuable resource.

It should be provided at the onsite inspections to ensure verification can be done to prove that the materials and equipment used within the installation match what has been approved and that the client is getting what he is paying for.

🟧 Approved construction drawings

Approved construction drawings should be provided and marked up with the testing area.

This is needed to show where the testing will occur and document the overall system testing for tracking purposes.

🟧 Self-test records

If the pressure testing is witnessed by a third party [commissioning provider, designer, facilities engineer], it should be fully self-tested before the witnessing stage.

This ensures no issues and will reduce problems and return visits that could be claimed.

🟧 Permit to work

If there is a requirement for ‘Permits,’ then these should be included to ensure that the relevant provisions are allowed; some types of permits would be:

  • General access to the site,
  • Access to specific space equipment and pipework is located and,
  • Life safety system isolations.

🟩 NFPA 13 Acceptance criteria & tolerances

The NFPA requirements for hydrostatic testing are noted in the table below:

Code / DocumentCode SectionMediumRequirementsTolerance Allowed
NFPA 1329.2.1.1 & / 14 bar for 2 hours [120 minutes]Zero Drop determined by gauge pressure or visual leakage
NFPA 13 & water can't be used due to ambient temperature and risk of freezing - 40psi / 2.8 bar for 24 hours.

This is an intermittent test, once temperatures allow a hydrostatic test should be conducted.
1.5psi / 0.1 bar drop over the 24 hours.
NFPA 1329.2.1.2 & 29.2.2WaterAreas of system normally subjected to system working pressure inexess of 150psi [10 bar] shall be tested at a pressure of 50 psi / 3.4 bar in excess of system working pressure.Zero Drop determined by gauge pressure or visual leakage
NFPA 1329.2.1.4 & fire pump is used for a system, testing pressure shall be determined by using the shut off pressure of the pump, excluding any limiting device.Zero Drop determined by gauge pressure or visual leakage
πŸ”— If you are also involved with pressure testing Gaseous Suppression Systems see our article 'FM200β„’ SYSTEM | Pipework Pressure & Puff Test Template'

🟩 Testing equipment to be used

The following equipment will be utilized during the testing works.

  • Hand Pump: A pump that generates the required hydraulic pressure within the system.
  • Hoses: these are flexible tubes/pipes, rated at the correct pressure, connected from the pump to the system under test. They can also be used for looping and connecting other systems.
  • Calibrated Pressure Gauges: used to measure and monitor the pressure within the system that is under test.
  • Plugs/Caps/Blanks: used to plug or cap any needed items such as deluge heads, sprinkler heads etc.
  • Pad Locks and Chains: to lock off valves or other system components to ensure they cannot be inadvertently opened during the test.

🟩 Pressure testing safety checklist

Before starting the work, Personal protective equipment and site safety equipment should be reviewed to ensure that the testing is completed safely.

🟧 Personal Protective Equipment [PPE]

Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] refers to any equipment or clothing worn by anyone involved in the works to protect themselves from the hazards they will be exposed to.

Each project should be evaluated for its specific risks, but in general, the PPE that will be worn/used would be:

Hi-Visability VestDesigned to make the wearer more visible to others, typically in situations where visibility is low, such as in dimly lit areas.
GogglesEyesProvides protection for the eyes against impact, debris, chemicals, and other hazards that may be present during the works.
GlovesHandsWorn to protect the hands from potential hazards such as cuts, burns, and chemical exposure.
HelmetHeadProtects the head from falling objects, bumps, and other potential hazards that may be present during the works.
Chin StrapAn adjustable strap that attaches to a helmet and is worn under the chin to keep the helmet securely in place and prevent it from falling off in the event of an impact.
Long Sleeve ShirtArmsWorn to cover the arms and torso, providing protection against cuts, scrapes, and other potential hazards.
Long TrousersLegsProvides leg protection against cuts, scrapes, and other potential hazards.
Safety BootsToes/FeetDesigned to provide protection to the feet against potential hazards such as falling objects, sharp debris, and slippery surfaces. They should typically have reinforced toes and non-slip soles for added protection.

🟧 Site Safety Equipment [SSE]

Where PPE is worn to protect those completing or involved with the tasks, site safety equipment is used to allow them to carry out the work safely.

Items of equipment that could be used would be:

Safety SignageSafety signage is used to warn people of potential hazards, provide information about safe practices, and direct individuals to safety equipment or exits. These signs are typically made of durable materials and display symbols or text that are universally recognized.
Barriers/ConesBarriers and cones are used to cordon off areas where the works are being carried out or where there are potential hazards.

They are used to prevent people from entering the areas and to ensure that individuals remain at a safe distance.
Spill KitsUsed to contain and clean up spills of liquids.

These kits contain materials such as absorbent pads, booms, and gloves, and are designed to be easily accessible in case of an emergency.
Access PlatformsProvides a safe and stable platform for workers to carry out their tasks at height.

Covering items such as scaffolding, mobile elevating work platforms [MEWPs], and ladders [where safe]
Fall ProtectionFall protection equipment is used to prevent workers from falling from height.

This can include items such as safety harnesses, anchor points, and safety nets.

Fall protection equipment is often required by law when working at height, and should be inspected regularly to ensure that it is in good condition.

🟩 Sprinkler Hydrostatic pressure testing method

Below are the steps necessary to deliver a successful pressure test, that is explained:

  • Step 1 – Complete general pre-requisite checks,
  • Step 2 – Pipework installation checklist/inspection record,
  • Step 3 – Raising the system pressure,
  • Step 4 – Allow the system to stabilize,
  • Step 5 – Confirm the system is stable,
  • Step 6 – Awaiting testing time,
  • Step 7 – Complete testing & document,
  • Step 8 – Depressurize the system,
  • Step 9 – Remove testing equipment.

πŸš€ Note that the testing method is similar to a pipework system’s general hydrostatic pressure testing.

πŸ”— If want to see more on this test, refer to our article 'HYDRAULIC PRESSURE TESTING | Explained with Templates'

🟧 Step 1 – Complete general pre-requisite checks

The checks, as detailed below, should be completed to ensure that everything is set up for the testing to commence:

1All Technical / Material Submissions Status A
2All Drawings of System [Layouts & Schematics] Status A and fully marked-up showing clearly the testing areas and testing numbers, being proved via a visual inspection.Where a different status is shown the following will be allowed:

Status B - Testing can proceed as long as comments have been addressed and do not affect the testing.

Status C & D - Testing will not proceed
3Testing Method Statement reviewed and provided a Status AWhere a different status is shown the following will be allowed:

Status B - Testing can proceed as long as comments have been addressed and do not affect the testing.

Status C & D - Testing will not proceed
4All Delivery Records Available for Inspection
5All Installation Inspection Records AvailableFor Inspection showing systems to be tested have been inspected by the Resident Engineering Team and, accepted as being installed in line with the project requirements.

Where not available testing will not be allowed to commence.
6All Permits are in place as noted in the 'Permit to Work' Section & system set up for testing, padlocks, protections, signage, etc.Where not available testing will not be allowed to commence.
7All pipework fittings and equipment is rated for the pressure testing requirement.Equipment, Hoses, Valves, Control Valves, Connections, Gaskets.

This is can be an issue in high-rise buildings.
8Calibration Certificates are available for all instruments and equipment and are within date.
9Pressure Gauge is installed at the lowest point and highest/furthest point of the system with a display/range applicable to the testing pressure.If not they will need to be relocated or replaced.
10All pipework joints are exposed and visible.
11System filled and fully vented free of air.
12Hoses installed at low-level drain cocks and run to drain.Used in case of a leak in the system and will allow pressure to be reduced quickly
13Operative and Engineers fully trained and where required hold a current relevant certificate to complete the works.

🟧 Step 2 – Pipework installation checklist/inspection record

Before the testing and commissioning phase takes place, the following will be checked.

1Pipework & ancillaries are installed according to the project drawings & manufacturers' requirements [size, nozzle location].
2Discharge nozzles are installed and oriented per the manufacturer's requirements.
3Where nozzle deflectors have been installed, they are positioned according to the manufacturer's requirements and not blocked from operating.
4Pipework is free of mechanical damage, obvious leakage and corrosion.
5There is no risk of loose objects being stored within the space on shelves, cabinets, or similar surfaces, near to the discharge nozzles interfering with there operation.
6Piping is free to expand and contract without noise or damage to hangers, joints, or the building.
7Pipework does not put undue stress on ancillaries and equipment, connected and bracketed to support itself.
8Piping is installed with sufficient pitch and arranged in a manner to ensure drainage and venting of the entire system.
9Seismic restraints, where required, installed.
10All piping supports and hangers meet criteria set out in the specifications & manufacturers' requirements, including being securely fastened to prevent unwanted vertical or lateral movement during discharge.
11Hangers, brackets and supports are not damaged, loose or unattached.
12Pipework is independently supported, no other services are using the sprinkler pipework brackets as support.
13Pipework is labelled inline with NFPA.
14Any changes in pipe sizes are made with the proper sized reducing fittings.
15All fittings meet specification requirements & manufacturers' requirements.
16All fittings and ancillaries are rated correctly and in line with the system's pressure & manufacturers' requirements.
17All equipment requiring maintenance is accessible (valves, fittings etc).
18Piping does not block access to equipment that is part of this system or another system.
19All valves are installed as per the drawing & manufacturers' requirements.
20Pipework is insulated as per the specification and vapor sealed where required.
21Pipework is trace heated as per the specification and vapor sealed where required.
22All components, including valves and controls, are labeled according to the project naming convention.
23Valves/pressure-reducing valves have been installed according to the manufacturer's requirements and are in the correct direction.
24All pressure gauges installed and display scale as per design & manufacturers' requirements, where noted on the drawings.

Once the above table has been verified and agreed upon, the Hydraulic Pressure Test can be commenced using the steps below, with the hand pump, valves, and gauges connected:

🟧 Step 3 – Raising the system pressure

Raise the system pressure by opening the valves to the hand pump, then slowly raise the water pressure within the system in 1 bar / 14.5 psi increments.

Stop when the gauge reading meets the required testing pressure.

🟧 Step 4 – Allow the system to stabilize

Once the testing pressure is reached and verified, shut off the valves at the system connected to the hand pump and allow the system to settle for 10 minutes.

If there is a drop in pressure during the 10 minutes, this could be due to the system settling; use the hand pump to top-up the system, and ensure the valves are opened before pumping and closed after completing [this will be the only time a top-up is allowed].

🟧 Step 5 – Confirm the system is stable

Once the system is stable, fill out the pressure testing certificate by documenting the required information.

βœ… The testing time will now start.

Here is a β€˜Sprinkler Hydrostatic Pressure Test Certificate Template’ that can be downloaded in PDF or MS Word.

⬜ Sprinkler Pressure Testing Certificate Template [NFPA 13 & NFPA 25]

The following certificate can be emailed to you for use in your works and reports from our shop; click the β€˜Download’ button if you want a free copy.

🟧 Step 6 – Testing started

Once Step 5 has been completed and verified, ensure that the testing pressure is held for the period noted in the NFPA.

During the testing time, check the system and gauges for any signs of leakage or loss of pressure.

🟧 Step 7 – Completion of testing

βœ… If no pressure loss is noted over the required time frame, the test can be completed and a Pass provided.

Finalize pressure testing certificate and file.

❌ If leaks or pressure loss are outside the tolerances noted, they should be investigated and addressed.

Failure of water tightness within a system will usually be noted at flanges, joints, or connections to equipment.

⚫ Where remedial works have been completed, retesting will be conducted until the system passes.

Finalize pressure testing certificate and file.

🟧 Step 8 – Depressurize the system

Once everything has been confirmed as complete, safely depressurize the system by draining some water off to drain or into a bucket.

🟧 Step 9 – Removal of testing equipment & reinstall

When the testing has been confirmed as complete and passed, the hand pump, gauges, and temporary valves/hoses should be removed, with any equipment checked or reinstalled to ensure normal status.

⬜ Sprinkler Hydraulic Pressure Testing Method Statement Template [MS Word]

Here is an example of a Sprinkler Pressure Testing Document that can be purchased and downloaded in our shop; click the β€˜Buy Now’ button.

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