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One of three valves in a dry automatic sprinkler system tripped accidentally, thus activating the sprinklers. Maintenance records showed that the three valves had been in service less than two years. The valve consisted of a cast copper alloy clapper plate that was held closed by a pivoted malleable iron latch. The latch and top surface of the clapper plate were usually in a sanitary-water environment (stabilized, chlorinated well water with a pH of 7.3) under stagnant conditions. Process make-up water that had been clarified, filtered, softened, and chlorinated and had a pH of 9.8 was occasionally used in the system. Analysis (visual inspection and 250x micrograph) supported the conclusions that failure of the latch was caused by plastic deformation from extensive loss of metal by galvanic corrosion and the sudden loading related to the tripping of the valve. Failure in some regions of the contact area was by ductile (transgranular) fracture. Recommendations included changing the latch material from malleable iron to silicon bronze (C87300). The use of silicon bronze prevents corrosion or galvanic attack and proper adjustment of the latch maintains an adequate contact area.

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Galvanic-Corrosion Failure of a Malleable Iron Latch in a Valve for an Automatic Sprinkler System, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Buildings, Bridges, and Infrastructure, ASM International, 2019,

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