Pipeline Collapse Illustrates Urgent Need for Two-Way Air Valves

Pipeline Collapse Illustrates Urgent Need for Two-Way Air Valves
The vacuum created by negative pressure in a system - caused by no air valves or the wrong type of air valves - is enough to destroy plastic pipelines and tough metallic materials.

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The catastrophic collapse of a pipeline at a $10 million project in Central America shows that current procurement of air valves needs to be reviewed.

“This latest incident was actually caused by not having any air valves at all, which was a disastrous oversight by the consultant," says Craig Stanners, director of IVL Flow Control. "In an increasing number of cases, it is not the end-user or the contractor at fault; it’s a lack of understanding from consultants who don’t seem to understand that when you are putting water into a pipeline or draining out due to a burst, air must be let in – and let out.”

Stanners, who has been a key speaker at two recent water loss conferences in the U.S. and India, says the vacuum created by negative pressure in a system (caused by no air valves or the wrong type of air valves) is enough to destroy plastic pipelines and tough metallic materials.

“The ludicrous recommendation by the consultants for this project in Central America to make do without air valves probably ‘saved’ around £7000 ($10,000 U.S.)," he says. "What an oversight. In the U.K., there is a plague of cheap plastic air valves in the ground.  These valves are a single, air-out only function, costing around £70 ($100). Instead, two-way valves (for air-in and air-out) should be installed, but because they’re closer to £170 ($244), procurement departments or consultants think they’re doing a great job with savings. Perhaps they could explain then why in the U.S. alone, there is now $346 billion worth of failing assets in the ground. I don’t call that much of a saving."

Stanners said he was horrified to be quoting on one recent project when the asset manager had to admit that although the municipal company knew they had air valves, they didn’t know exactly where — only that the contractor had used "a load" left from a previous job. Subsequent failures with poor tap pressures had already produced numerous complaints from consumers, giving the water company some very unwanted SIM points.

“In an age where anyone could use Google to get an idea of topography,” says Stanners, “it seems unforgiveable that some consultants aren’t even specifying air valves to be installed every 500 meters on just a straight length of pipe. And it’s madness, too, for those who do specify to then cut corners with cheap or unsuitable air valves. It is time to install the right, long-lasting product and stop adding to the stockpile of failed assets buried in the ground.”

About IVL Flow Control
The aim of IVL Flow Control is to save money on all aspects of leakage and pressure management. At IVL Flow Control, we want to assist you with taking control of your network or installation, by offering advanced hydraulic solutions and services, ensuring savings are made on every single drop of water produced. For more information, visit www.ivlflowcontrol.co.uk.


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