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A sprinkler head unit that was installed in a smoking lounge of a multi story office building in 1975 failed, causing substantial water damage. There was no fire in the building. A set of four sprinkler heads -- three that had been installed in 1975 (the failed unit, an unfailed unit from the same room, and an unfailed unit from another room) and an unused 1991 unit -- were examined. casting revealed no material defects or mechanical damage. Because of several environmental factors, it was suspected that the failed unit was exposed to temperatures much above the normal office environment. On this basis, it was concluded that creep of the solder alloy was the most probable cause of failure.

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