Valve Exercising Creates New Opportunity For Contractors

Vacuum Excavator
April 2011 Vol. 66 No. 4

Opening and closing isn’t the only role of a valve exerciser. These units have the ability to collect data and create a detailed log of all valve and hydrant exercising activities. The system tracks critical information such as applied peak torque, revolution number at peak torque, and number of revolutions required to open or close a hydrant or valve. Plus some units can be equipped with a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) to record the exact location of each valve box. Should a valve need to be repaired, the exercising crew can note the exact coordinates and pass the information along to the repair crew, saving time.

“The torque required to open and close a valve is important information,” says Gasmovic. “If you go back and the following year and more torque is needed to open and close a valve, then it’s a good indicator that the valve may be damaged.”

Options
When selecting a valve exercising system, the best advice Gasmovic can offer is to look at both items -- the valve exerciser and the vacuum excavator -- as two separate items.

“You want to get the best in both,” says Gasmovic. “There are very good valve exercisers paired with a low-cost or subpar vacuum excavator designed just to complete the cleanout of the valve box and exercise the valve. That’s fine for valve exercising, but it limits the potential other uses for the vacuum.”

Once a municipality starts their valve exercising program and completes the first round of clean-outs, they discover that while the valves need to be exercised annually, the valve boxes don’t need to be cleaned every year. The municipality can split the valve exerciser from the vacuum and mount it to a truck with a small hydraulic power pack for the subsequent valve exercising activities. This also provides an opportunity for the vacuum to be used for other projects within the municipality.

The vacuum has the capability to be used for potholing for utilities, cleaning catch basins and even digging post holes. However, the vacuum you select needs to have the power to complete these other tasks.

Gasmovic also suggests that you select a vacuum system that is compact in size and can easily navigate the street system in your community. The most commonly used vacuum excavator for valve exercising is a 250-gallon machine, while some prefer a 500-gallon unit.