Fire dampers are an essential part of a building’s infrastructure that prevents damage in the event of a fire. Dampers are used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units in various types of buildings so it’s important to know how they work and their proper installation process to ensure ultimate fire safety in all situations which is why using products like barriers in air ducts is crucial. Stopping the spread of a fire and the movement of smoke through the air ventilation units in a building will ultimately prevent catastrophic damage. Knowledge is power when it comes to life-saving HVAC supplies and products— here's your guide on how to install fire dampers.
How does a fire damper work?
Fire dampers are one of the top resources used to prevent the spread of a fire in a building. Upon detecting a fire, and with the use of temperature sensors, these dampers completely close which prevents airflow and keeps the fire from spreading throughout the building.
There are springs in the damper (which is installed inside of an HVAC unit) that prompt it to close immediately once a high heat is detected in the ducts. Since fire spreads faster with the presence of oxygen, shutting the vent completely prevents further damage by creating barriers and can potentially save lives and buildings. Large fires happen and spread rapidly so acting proactively with the use of a fire damper in the ducts is crucial to eliminate the threat immediately.
Continually having routine inspections and maintenance done on your fire dampers will prevent product malfunctions and ensure everything is up to code.
How does a smoke damper work?
Smoke dampers, similarly to fire dampers, will close during a fire when smoke is sensed in a room or other parts of a building. Before a fire even occurs, smoke is the first detection of one. When there isn’t enough oxygen to cause the flame, the smoke will travel to the vents and the damper will shut before the fire can actually combust.
Fire dampers will use temperature sensors while smoke dampers will use smoke sensors to cause them to shut. Having both a fire and smoke damper in a building is vital. In fact, the number one cause of death during a fire happens to be smoke inhalation. The movement of smoke throughout a building before and even during a fire happens so quickly and can quickly engulf any open space. For smoke dampers to properly protect buildings and their occupants, continuous maintenance and inspections are needed in the ducts.
Fire safety codes
Preparation is key to preventing fires and smoke from decimating a building. You can do so by following fire safety codes that are up to high standards set by the International Code Council (ICC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). These organizations follow rigorous rules to ensure fire safety all around the globe. For example, the NFPA mandates the ratings for both fire and smoke dampers. Fire dampers will have a minimum fire resistance rating while smoke dampers will have leakage and temperature ratings. Finding and installing products up to these safety codes and standards increase your chances of surviving a fire. Products are checked periodically for inspections and maintenance to ensure they stay up to date.
Installation of a fire/smoke damper
To better protect your home or business from fire, consider it best practice to install fire and smoke dampers. These two products are able to detect high heat temperatures and smoke levels that are consistent with dangerous fires. While installing either of these types of dampers will help you, utilizing both will significantly increase your chances of preventing fire-caused damages. To properly install a fire and smoke damper, follow these guidelines.
- Place the damper unit in the duct and ensure that the correct measurements are taken according to the manufacturing directions (some units need a specific amount sticking out on each end).
- Drill holes with the right-sized bits so that they fit the bolts and screws used to secure them into the vent.
- Check that the curtain drops down without any snagging and that the fusible link works correctly to detect a fire.
- Run operation tests after installing the damper units to confirm that the fire and smoke dampers do their job effectively and correctly.
Extra Tips for Installation:
- In accordance with a variety of mechanical codes and standards, fire and smoke dampers need to be installed within HVAC ducting, passing through fire barriers.
- Obtain the fire resistance ratings, airflow ratings, and leakage ratings for each damper. There are minimum ratings for fire and smoke dampers but they can vary depending on where and how ducts are placed in a building.
- Fire and smoke dampers have clear manufacturing installation instructions that professionals should follow for proper installation and maintenance.
- Since HVAC units can carry inhalants, debris, and smoke during a fire, the damper should be installed along the duct to prevent a spread from happening.
- Ensure that there is easy access to the installation site for future inspections and maintenance conducted by professionals.
- Conduct an operational test under all conditions for the HVAC unit and check for obstructions to ensure proper airflow.
At Advantage Mechanical Supply, we have equipment and products that are up to ICC, NFPA, and UL standards and codes to ensure safety with our fire and smoke dampers. Tested and tried, we feature a line of products that potentially save lives and buildings from fire and smoke damage. Advantage Mechanical Supply offers affordable solutions and plenty of resources for customers that want to confidently protect their facilities. Whether residential, commercial, or industrial – no project is too small for our help. Finding the right dampers for your specific project is key to ultimate protection. Browse our selection of HVAC dampers and louvers for your fire safety needs.
Allow Advantage Mechanical Supply to Help
If you’re unsure about your project needs, you can bid your project to Advantage Mechanical Supply to get your ideas off the ground and put your technical plans into action. Our fully-equipped team has years of knowledge and education to provide you with clear and concise information for all your HVAC needs. We offer custom orders with short lead times, thanks to our integrated supply chain allowing us to give our customers high-quality supplies at an affordable cost.
Contact Advantage Mechanical Supply for questions regarding dampers and HVACs — we truly are your one-stop shop for supplies and parts.