$1200 ADT sprinkler flow switch fix

One leg of my sprinkler system's flow switch that triggers an alarm failed
due to getting wet. A contractor wanted $1200 to replace the switch. Gee,
I take it apart and find there's a diaphragm type damper to prevent it from
being touchy. The spring on the diaphragm is bound-up with white zink type
corrosion preventing the switch from operating. A bit of cleaning and
lubrication and it's back in service. When I asked the ADT repair guy and
the sprinkler contractor about servicing the switch rather than replacing
it, the both looked at me like I was nuts! "Oh, those switches can't be
repaired, that would be sacrilegious! And, it's obsolete and we have to
open up the 8" pipe to put a new paddle in...and chances are we'll break
something." WTF!!! Does nobody repair stuff anymore? This was a VERY
simple, straightforward job I did at my desk in 20 minutes.
Reply to
Tom Gardner
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I'm afraid that you and the handful of us here on RCM are some of the only ones left who actually repair anything anymore. The "disposable society" has become the norm and if it doesn't work they just toss it. The only up side is that sometimes we get our hands on the tossed stuff and give it a few decades of productive life instead of a premature burial in a landfill.
Pete C.
Reply to
Pete C.
They can't make any money by just cleaning the switch. Most of the cnc repair services are the same way.... swap out the 2500 dollar board because a little reed relay on the board is bad. Reed relay about 10 bucks. Time to change it... 15 minutes.
John
John
Reply to
john
this assumes the technician has the knowlege and intellect to effect a repair - most don't, they know how to change boards. Those who know how to really fix stuff are more valuable in Sales or in design or something.
Reply to
William Noble
Jump to conclusions at your own peril.
That part you played around with is part of a life safety system. In most states you must be licensed to service fire alarm equipment. I would assume you are not licensed. I would also assume that switch is x number of years old, and while you freed up the corrosion for now, it's still an old device that will be more prone to failure.
If ADT, or any other alarm company was to do what you did, and your building burned down with potential loss of life because they attempted to "field recondition" the flow switch, they would be liable for millions, after having to defend themselves against criminal charges.
By repairing the equipment yourself, and if a fire should occur, the Fire Marshall will be questioning you. And if the switch should cause a false alarm and roll the fire trucks needlessly, you'll have to anwser for it.
Tony
Reply to
Tony
Good points, all. However, a fire would cause a sprinkler head to pop, assumedly. Water would flow. The pressure drop would trigger the pressure sensor and the fire pump on the system would turn on. The fire pump sensor system would trigger the ADT alarm AND the fire department. My system also has three zones, each with their own flow switch. Also, smoke would trigger the infrared sensors and ADT. So, there's a bunch of redundancy.
I wasn't clear in not stating that the actual switch is a waterproof "Square D" and the problem with the unit was in the mechanism that activates the switch. My repairing of the mechanism does put me in the picture, however I AM willing to bet my skills are better than the original OEM. The switch is also tested every month and the whole system is certified by a "holyman" every year.
Reply to
Tom Gardner
Which is why (if you are confident in your abilities) you just fix it, clean it, lube it, test it, and keep your mouth shut about doing it. And DO NOT tag that flow switch with the date you cleaned and lubed it if you weren't supposed to touch it. So they don't have any reason to start looking under rocks for "something that isn't there".
Tony is right that everyone is gun-shy of taking any liability for anything at all. If they replace it with brand new, they throw all the liability on the Manufacturer of the new part - and the Mfgr has already factored their healthy product liability insurance premiums into the price of the new product.
Also, it keeps the ADT and Sprinkler Contractor people away from having to rework the job again if the quick inexpensive and simple repair doesn't work. The corporate people would rather replace everything they touch with new so they don't get warranty callbacks.
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Reply to
Bruce L. Bergman
Tom..as you know..I was in the alarm business for quite a few years. They are trained to replace, not repair, simply because of the liability issue. If they make a repair that fails, and as a result the flow switch doesnt trigger the alarm ....even if the sprinkers work..they can be held significantly liable for damages if the fire department doesnt respond in a timely manner..yada yada yada.
So they replace and any failure liablity falls back on the manufacture if there is a failure, assuming it was installed correctly. And I dont think flow switches retain their UL listing if not repaired by a certified UL listed repair station.
Thats going to be the rational from the repair company top management anyways. Frankly..they would prefer to avoid the possible liability..and make $1200 off you.
Gunner
Gunner
"Aren't cats Libertarian? They just want to be left alone. I think our dog is a Democrat, as he is always looking for a handout" Unknown Usnet Poster
Heh, heh, I'm pretty sure my dog is a liberal - he has no balls. Keyton
Reply to
Gunner
I know but Damn! It wasn't rocket science! Even if it was, I've got access to Jay...a true "Rocket Scientist"! Actually, my sprinkler engineer recommended that I repair or replace the unit myself and he would certify the system as long as it worked. The ADT repair guy bypassed the switch and said there's enough redundancy in the system that he wasn't concerned as long as we took care of it in a reasonable time. Neither of these guys wanted to repair it and I don't blame them...not their realm. I guess I was just surprised and happy it was so simple from a mechanical point of view forgetting that EVERYBODY doesn't handle troubleshooting everything the way we do.
Reply to
Tom Gardner
Someone said it clearly in an earlier post. "board changers".
But to be fair..most guys in that line of work..or most electro/mechanical lines of work today HAVE to be board changers. Hell..I could no more fix a mother board or a drive board on a CNC machine tool than I could design an Atlas 5 booster. But then..it costs more to trouble shoot most boards than it does to simply stick in a new one..some times by several orders of magnitude.
And with that mindset..not saying being a board changer mindset is a bad one..comes the replacement not repair outlook.
On the other hand..I know of a tech that did as you did..but didnt realize that it was a wet system and that there was water in the stand pipe when he pulled out the last screw..he suddenly found out. Several hundred gallons of water spraying out the stand pipe later......
chuckle
Gunner
"Aren't cats Libertarian? They just want to be left alone. I think our dog is a Democrat, as he is always looking for a handout" Unknown Usnet Poster
Heh, heh, I'm pretty sure my dog is a liberal - he has no balls. Keyton
Reply to
Gunner
I had one dealing with a fire sprinkler company and I was not impressed.
I had pissed off a fire inspector and he ordered me to extend one of the sprinkler heads about 3 feet. The sprinkler company sent out a kid that could not figure out how to shut the water off as there was a small pebble under the gate. I had to suggest that he should almost close the valve and pen the drain so the flow of the water would flush the pebble out.
Then he had no clue how to find the point straight down from the current sprinkler head to drill the hole. I showed him how he could do it with a plumb bob.
Then he had to cut his pipe twice as the first time he did not seem to realize that the threads actually went into the tee and the sprinkler head so the length of the pipe had to be longer than the distance from the bottom of the fitting to the ceiling.
He also seemed upset that I would not pay for the first length of pipe or the new sprinkler head he wanted to install but that I said the old one would work fine.
Time on job a little over an hour, so I was covered under the 4 hour minimum.
And they would have you believe that they are super plumbers.
Reply to
Roger Shoaf

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