Assembling A Water Main Valve Exercise Schedule

Establishing a water main valve exercise program will help facilities save a great deal of money and time, over the long haul. Many facilities avoid regular water main valve management, but the benefits far outweigh the time spent on regular maintenance. By following a simple process, preparing for possible problems, and following a regular schedule, facilities will reduce their water main valve repair costs significantly.

Every existing community water system has valves. Valves start, stop, and regulate the flow of fluid through the distribution lines. In an emergency situation, operators need to know the location of all valves, so that parts of the system may be opened or shut down without any delays. A functional maintenance program will guarantee that valves are in working order, and that operators have no doubts about where they are located.

Many operators avoid regularly exercising their valves. Sometimes, systems are so old, or have been ignored for so long, that operators are afraid to open valves. Or, operators may have damaged valves during past maintenance exercises, which may make them fear causing further damage, or a water main leak. Other operators may not know the location of all valves, or may fear undertaking additional tasks or labor costs.

Exercising valves will provide substantial benefits. Exercised valves means more accurate, detailed records, which gives operators more confidence in the system. Valves will also be longer-lasting, more reliable in emergencies, and less subject to emergency repairs. In addition, water main leak detection and repair will be easier, which means less loss, and less disruption in service for customers.

To exercise valves, operators should follow a simple process. Operators should find the valves, and run each one through a full cycle, before putting it back into the normal position. Running the cycle will help to prevent the buildup of rust and other deposits, which could cause valves to become inoperable. After exercise, operators should record results and observations, and then schedule any needed repairs.

At the beginning of the program, operators may experience problems. Locating all valves is a common problem; operators should record the locations of all valves after finding them, to prevent location problems in the future. Certain parts of valves may break if given too much torque, such as the valve stem, operating nuts, or bonnet bolts, necessitating a repair. However, breaking a valve during exercising is better than having valves break in the middle of an emergency.

Setting up a mechanized schedule is the best way to implement regular maintenance. Facilities should create a detailed plan spelling out the entire process, so that tasks are correctly prioritized. Facilities may also consider upgrading to electronic data collection, for improved accuracy. Or, facilities may choose to contract out their exercising program to a dedicated contractor.

Exercising saves money, because repairs are found, budgeted, and scheduled when they are needed, instead of in emergency situations. Also, facilities will avoid paying workers emergency overtime, because Water main valve exercise during a crisis. Implementing a water main valve exercise program is one of the smartest, most fiscally-conscious steps that a utility can take, for the safety and convenience of its customers.