By: Sutton StokesMarch 7, 2022

New Equipment to Maintain Water Valves

To repair a broken water main, it’s often necessary to turn off the water going to that pipe. But what if the valve is stuck or broken? One reason that some water outages are so widespread is because we have fewer working valves than ideal, so we aren’t always able to isolate small areas.
To better maintain and protect our current water valves the Elkins Water Board recently took delivery of the valve maintenance trailer shown in these pictures. This trailer’s central feature is a valve exerciser, a device that repeatedly turns a valve on and off to prevent the valve from becoming so stiff that it cannot function properly.
The valve exerciser does this by cycling through different levels of torque to break stuck valves open. This one starts out at a rate of 150 ft/lb. and can go all the way up to 750 ft/lbs. As the exerciser operates the valve, it counts the turns and measures the torque to avoid breaking the valve. It also has a vacuum system to clean dirt and debris out of valves. Finally, the trailer also has a GPS system to store valve locations and add notes for future reference.
Elkins council authorized use of $88,000 of ARPA funds to purchase the trailer.
Not cheap–but consider that the Elkins water system has about 500 valves with a replacement cost of $12-15,000 each. This exerciser will pay for itself if it keeps us from needing to replace even a half dozen.


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