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Antifreeze Policy 9-6-11

The National Fire Protection Association under the direction of their Standards Council issued Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) 8-16-10 to ban antifreeze from NFPA 13D systems, and also from the residential portion of NFPA 13R and NFPA 13 systems based on a series of fire tests regarding the flammability of antifreeze.  Investigation continues on this issue and NFPA has since developed other TIAs and is likely to come up with changes in future editions.

Meanwhile, here is our updated policy with the first 4 items below addressing new antifreeze systems in residential portions of NFPA 13D, NFPA 13R & NFPA 13, and the last 2 items addressing existing antifreeze systems. This policy does not apply to non-residential portions of buildings such as attics, garages, storage areas, mechanical spaces, canopies, etc.:

                1.  In new systems do not use antifreeze in NFPA 13D systems or in residential portions of occupancies in NFPA 13 & 13R systems. Our office however reserves the right to permit antifreeze in special cases within specific guidelines as outlined below where there is no other viable alternative and where the lack of its use would create a more hazardous situation.

The viable alternatives to use instead of using antifreeze include things such as: running pipe in heated areas, using insulation in proper quantities with approved installation methods, using dry pendents or dry horizontal sidewalls in the cold area, using a dry system, (Tyco now has residential heads that are listed for dry systems), using nitrogen, or changing the building design so that the space becomes heated. Communicate with builders and owners on the importance of minimizing cold areas by providing insulation and a heat source where possible early on in the project.

                2.  When new antifreeze systems are approved for these residential portions of occupancies then minimize the extent of them.  For example don’t use antifreeze for the whole building if you only need antifreeze for just a portion of the building.

                3.  When new antifreeze systems are installed in residential portions of occupancies, then avoid long pipe drops and use glycerin rather than propylene glycol.

                4.  When new antifreeze systems are installed in residential portions of occupancies don’t use more than 50% antifreeze in the mixture and use only premixed solutions. If this concentration is not adequate freeze protection for the temperatures anticipated then revert back to item #1 above.

                5.  When inspecting existing antifreeze systems in residential portions of occupancies dilute over-concentrated systems to acceptable levels when freeze protection is not jeopardized for the temperatures anticipated. When that is impractical, then discuss options in item #1 above with the client. Existing antifreeze systems however may be maintained at concentrations for the original design, as per the retroactivity clauses found in chapter 1 of NFPA 13, 13D, & 13R.

                6.  The retroactivity clauses do not require changes to be made to existing antifreeze systems retroactively when the system met requirements at the time of installation, unless the authority having jurisdiction believes that there is a situation that presents an unacceptable degree of risk. The line drawn for an unacceptable degree of risk is those buildings licensed with the Department of Health and Human Services, (predominantly nursing homes, hospitals and day care centers), where the concentrations of antifreeze are high and the static pressures exceed 100 psi. These situations need to come up with a plan to minimize the risk. When guidance is needed to develop a plan of correction, then please contact us.


[Last Updated 9-24-12 by establishing this as its own web page. It was formerly found under "Expansion Tanks".]