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MIC: What It Is & What You Can Do About It

Automatic Fire Sprinkler in red water pipe System

If you have a sprinkler system and have been having occurrences of pinhole leaks long before you expect them, you may be experiencing Microbiologically Induced Corrosion or MIC.

What is MIC?

MIC is described as an electrochemical corrosive process that specific bacteria in a fire sprinkler system can speed up, resulting in an untimely failure of the components of the metallic system. Unlike normal corrosion, MIC means that there is material loss at specific points not universally across the surface of the piping. This results in localized pinhole leaks.

Unlike regular corrosion, the MIC process is both concentrated and accelerated . So, the MIC bacteria can cause pinhole leaks in sprinkler systems within a much shorter time that normal corrosion.

What can I do about it?

Awareness of MIC became a focus in the 1990’s, and in the last 20 years, several manufactures have developed products to address MIC and the specific needs of fire sprinkler systems.

Internal sprinkler inspections, required every 5 years by NFPA 25, are an important tool to checking the internal condition of the pipes and spotting any issues before they become major.

If MIC is suspected, properly laboratory testing can be performed and options for addressing any MIC can be evaluated.

Treatment options are available.  Typically, treatment starts with a full flush of the sprinkler system, including allowing a cleaning agent to sit overnight. Then, an appropriate corrosion-inhibitor is injected into the system, protecting the piping from further damage. Pressurized nitrogen in another option for treating a sprinkler system where MIC is present.

For more information about MIC or if you suspect your system has MIC present, contact Harding Fire Protection.


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