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ACC
11-18-2011, 01:10 PM
The contractor hired to winterize the 71 RPZ backflow preventers at my homeowners' association (HOA) insists that the two isolation ball valves on each RPZ be left in the shut position. He says this is to minimize the entry of debris (dirt, insects etc., he said). No special effort was made to drain the isolation ball valves. The tiny testcock ball valves were all left in the 45 degree position.

The manufacturer's procedure; every place I check on the net; experience last year with these same iso valves being left shut and then rupturing during the freezes; all say half-open/half-shut (a.k.a. 45 degree) is the correct winter position of the valves.

I presented this to the HOA board. They are inexperienced and so fairly naturally trust the contractor and not the info I presented. About how many of these 142 ball valves (1.5-inch and 2-inch nominal size) do folks predict will fail, assuming multiple, consecutive days of sub 25 degree F weather?

Mike Leary
11-18-2011, 01:32 PM
What a crock! The assembly (whatever it is) should be winterized with a bicycle pump, or some low-end dweeb compressor (it only takes 7 lbs to drain) and the testers shut down and the ball valves left at a 45. The reason for the 45 is to allow any water possibly left to expand and not blow the assembly. Bugs in the assembly, indeed! :dizzy::hammerhead:

FIMCO-MEISTER
11-18-2011, 02:22 PM
Why don't you start an online poll and see how many leave it in a 45 degree angle vs shut.

AI Inc
11-18-2011, 03:29 PM
45 here. Otherwise water can get tapped behind the valve.

ArTurf
11-18-2011, 03:35 PM
From what you are saying the contractor simply shuts the 2 ball valves off and opens the test cocks? If this is the case there is water in the pipes before and after the ball valves that can easily freeze and cause damage. Just opening the test cocks does not remove all the water inside the device which can freeze and distort the body of the RP causing it not to work properly, fail testing and need replacing $$$.

You didn't't mention if these RP's are covered. If they are and there are no air leaks you may get away with this method.

In my area I shut off the water somewhere in the ground, water meter or shut off valve and completely remove the RP, open all test cocks and tilt the device to completely remove the water. I will not take the chance of the shut off seeping or someone accidentally opening something and filling the RP with water. The customer is paying me to do this and not have a repair bill for something damaged by freezing.

Not all irrigation contractors are knowledgeable of RP's and have no idea what is going on inside the device. I have taken both the repair and testing courses for my state just so you know.

If this is done as I think it is you could have some big $$$ repair bills come start up time with 71- 1.5" and 2" RP's.

Wet_Boots
11-18-2011, 03:41 PM
If the devices are properly winterized, including the isolation valves, then those valves can be shut.

Mike Leary
11-18-2011, 05:05 PM
If the devices are properly winterized, including the isolation valves, then those valves can be shut.

Why take the chance? Those damn ball valves should only be used twice a year. They are not shut-offs, or designed to be be, as with too much use, they can leak-by, causing a backflow tester to head for the bar. :drinkup:

Wet_Boots
11-18-2011, 05:41 PM
For me, it's site-specific. In two places I had the supply-side isolation valve crack, I made a judgment call and added an upstream drain valve (as permitted in my locale) and leave the drain valve open all winter, while closing the supply-side isolation valve after winterizing.

For the OP, he might have 71 curb stops to close upstream of the 71 RPZs, and no worries about accidental valve openings during the off-season.

S.O.Contracting
11-18-2011, 06:10 PM
45 them. Otherwise there can be a small amount of water trapped inside that will crack the valve cases.

As far as leaky ball valves when testing an RP. The inlet side stays open for the entire test. And if the outlet side leaks the #2 check can be backpressured to complete the test.

Mike Leary
11-18-2011, 08:41 PM
As far as leaky ball valves when testing an RP. The inlet side stays open for the entire test. And if the outlet side leaks the #2 check can be backpressured to complete the test.

Want to explain how to backpressure the #2 check?

ACC
11-18-2011, 09:16 PM
From what you are saying the contractor simply shuts the 2 ball valves off and opens the test cocks?

I do not know whether he also removes the relief valve cover and the 2nd check valve cover, as the manufacturer's procedure states. He does not blow out the system with air. Testcocks are in the 45 degree position.

Understood about the possible freeze damage that may result because of improper draining.

Most but not all of the RPZs are inside the flimsiest of hotboxes. The rest are exposed to the elements. There is no electric heat trace.

Last year I was on the Board and got them to order a contractor to remove a number of the RPZ's before winter hit hard, because water could not be secured to them. On the latter, curb stops were leaking and either there was no cutoff valve or a failed cutoff valve. This year the HOA put in new cutoff valves (in those underground boxes).

The contractor is backflow preventer certified and has checked in with the city inspectors a few times in the last 10 months. The city is fairly pro-active on backflow prevention in general.

If this is done as I think it is you could have some big $$$ repair bills come start up time with 71- 1.5" and 2" RP's.

I suggested this to the contractor, but so far he remains dug in.

I might call the city's backflow people and see what they say. Granted things will get even more ugly if I do call the city. I could let it go at this point, realizing the repair bill may be huge, and the start of irrigation significantly delayed, affecting 1500 homes and their families' front lawns, in a working class neighborhood where money does not come easy in the first place.


Thank you all for your responses.

S.O.Contracting
11-19-2011, 12:34 AM
Want to explain how to backpressure the #2 check?

Hose from #1 testcock to #4 testcock. Will hold your #2 check closed eliminating the issue of downstream leaks. Should be part of your backflow testing knowledge.

Wet_Boots
11-19-2011, 09:12 AM
So, what's the location where you worry about the RPZs and don't bother to blow out the systems?

Mike Leary
11-19-2011, 12:47 PM
Hose from #1 testcock to #4 testcock. Will hold your #2 check closed eliminating the issue of downstream leaks. Should be part of your backflow testing knowledge.

Hmm, maybe Mitch will chime in.

S.O.Contracting
11-19-2011, 02:01 PM
45 them. Otherwise there can be a small amount of water trapped inside that will crack the valve cases.

As far as leaky ball valves when testing an RP. The inlet side stays open for the entire test. And if the outlet side leaks the #2 check can be backpressured to complete the test.

You did see that I was talking about when testing an RP. Don't know if the same applies to double checks, not allowed for irrigation in my area. So the 5 or so I might test in a year are on fire suppression.

mitchgo
11-19-2011, 02:17 PM
Hmm, maybe Mitch will chime in.

Yeah that's part of the test for the rp. Except you have the testing unit to act as the middle man.

You could run a hose from #1 ( or 2) to #4 directly to see if #2 check was holding - if it wasn't the relief valve would open assuming the relief wasn't failing / stuck

Wet_Boots
11-19-2011, 02:37 PM
Are you RPZ testers seeing any stuck relief valves?

mitchgo
11-19-2011, 03:34 PM
of course.. Why would we not? It's a mechanical unit

Only testing 10% of rpz's even I have stuck reliefs

Wet_Boots
11-19-2011, 04:38 PM
Are there any visible reasons you see for stuck relief valves? Certain makes and models avoiding showing stuck reliefs?

When I winterize, I usually see evidence of the relief valve opening (Watts 009 being an exception, if I winterize through the device from the cool-air truckmount compressor)

Mike Leary
11-19-2011, 04:48 PM
We had an area that was high in iron and manganese, the purveyor mandated twice-yearly tests because of the quicker-than-normal wear of DCVAs and RPs.

mitchgo
11-19-2011, 04:48 PM
I don't test enough rpz to see any patterns

The ones I test are probably the worst ones.

Resturaunts- dish washers.. mop sinks. soda dispensors.. boilers.. Very dirty environments

Wet_Boots
11-19-2011, 05:06 PM
I was wondering about environment. I think I've only seen one looked-stuck air opening on any lawn-sprinkler backflow assembly, that one a Febco 765 (one-inch)

Stuck air openings are a bit jarring to the concept that re-writing codes to toxic-backflow standards can absolutely excuse you from ever needing inspections. :mad:

mitchgo
11-19-2011, 07:11 PM
Not trying to get into a back flow argument.

But I have always felt that fire suppression sprinkler systems back flow devices here should be rated high-hazard and that rp's should be used. Theoretically the water never gets used in a fire system. Unless a fire sprinkler company or the fire department drains the system . The water is nasty. I've seen soo much pitch black water from fire sprinkler systems. I Would WAY rather drink a glass of water diluted down with dog piss from a back flow event then to drink that sh#t!

Wet_Boots
11-19-2011, 07:15 PM
I don't even know the testing protocol for the fire systems. Do they get a re-inspection after a fire event has the sprinklers on?

Mike Leary
11-19-2011, 07:18 PM
Not trying to get into a back flow argument.

But I have always felt that fire suppression sprinkler systems back flow devices here should be rated high-hazard and that rp's should be used. Theoretically the water never gets used in a fire system. Unless a fire sprinkler company or the fire department drains the system . The water is nasty. I've seen soo much pitch black water from fire sprinkler systems. I Would WAY rather drink a glass of water diluted down with dog piss from a back flow event then to drink that sh#t!

Yes you are, and I've had the same discussion with purveyors and the Fire Dept. Those fire-line DCVAs are so big that a RP would be out of the question, cash-wise. We tested fire-lines for twenty-five years and, as long as it was done yearly, with attention paid to psid loss, we never, ever, had a failure.

ArTurf
11-21-2011, 11:56 AM
I do not know whether he also removes the relief valve cover and the 2nd check valve cover, as the manufacturer's procedure states. He does not blow out the system with air. Testcocks are in the 45 degree position.

Understood about the possible freeze damage that may result because of improper draining.

Most but not all of the RPZs are inside the flimsiest of hotboxes. The rest are exposed to the elements. There is no electric heat trace.

Last year I was on the Board and got them to order a contractor to remove a number of the RPZ's before winter hit hard, because water could not be secured to them. On the latter, curb stops were leaking and either there was no cutoff valve or a failed cutoff valve. This year the HOA put in new cutoff valves (in those underground boxes).

The contractor is backflow preventer certified and has checked in with the city inspectors a few times in the last 10 months. The city is fairly pro-active on backflow prevention in general.



I suggested this to the contractor, but so far he remains dug in.

I might call the city's backflow people and see what they say. Granted things will get even more ugly if I do call the city. I could let it go at this point, realizing the repair bill may be huge, and the start of irrigation significantly delayed, affecting 1500 homes and their families' front lawns, in a working class neighborhood where money does not come easy in the first place.


Thank you all for your responses.

Not sure how it is in your area but in my area anything above ground with water in it can possibly freeze and cause damage. I am located in south Arkansas. If he is not blowing out or removing the RP there will be water before and after the 2 shutoffs on the RP.

The fiberglass boxes will help prevent freezing but they are not foolproof. I have had freeze damage in them before so I learned my lesson and don't take chances. The things I am suggesting may not be required by any code or regulation just my way of guaranteeing damage prevention. There is another irrigation person who is certified to test in my area and winterizes by just opening the test cocks and that's it.

Maybe you should get him to agree to repair any freeze damage should it occur. But realize actually getting him to admit it is freeze damage and repairing it may be difficult.

Wet_Boots
11-21-2011, 02:08 PM
I think the real problem is with the HOA that is hiring the service, if they can't get a proper job done. Seventy Febco 825Y RPZs is a fair piece of work, and worth a price in four figures to get done to actual manufacturer instructions.

AI Inc
11-21-2011, 05:47 PM
" we went with the lowest bidder, why is that a problem"

Mike Leary
11-21-2011, 09:24 PM
I think the real problem is with the HOA that is hiring the service, if they can't get a proper job done. Seventy Febco 825Y RPZs is a fair piece of work, and worth a price in four figures to get done to actual manufacturer instructions.

It would be close to 6k for the whole batch to be tested, not to mention the same amount to be winterized properly. Would be a good account, if done right. I'd prolly try to negotiate a yearly contract that would be much less, but, if the HOA wants to dink around, that'd be my price. :waving:

Wet_Boots
11-21-2011, 09:31 PM
I'll go $5995.00 :)

ACC
11-22-2011, 01:58 PM
Update:
The contractor reversed course. The iso valves are all now in the 45-degree position. I did not ask why he changed his mind. I am going forward w/o grudges except for a watchful eye. Mostly, the contractor knows his stuff and he and I can communicate well enough.

WetBoots, this is in the Albuquerque, NM area. I checked around some months ago and found no one who used compressed air to blow out the lines in this area. Maybe further north in NM they do.

The bicycle pump approach makes sense to me. But as a volunteer, I don't have time to research this and try again to persuade the contractors (who have licenses, while I do not) of a way foreign to them.

Winterizing the RPZs was by a single contract. Testing was also by a single contract this past year.

Thanks to Arturf for the specific experience in Arkansas. I would tend to think Arkansas is somewhat similar with regard to freezing water in RPZs.

Thanks to all for the thoughts and so giving your time pro bono to a volunteer in a low income community. You have made my life a little easier.

txirrigation
11-22-2011, 02:11 PM
I'll go $5995.00 :)

I'll go $5994, and check the blinker fluid for free.

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 02:16 PM
damn lowballing pikers :realmad:

So I guess that answers the question of whether any proper upstream shutoffs were ever installed.

ACC
11-22-2011, 02:20 PM
Proper upstream shutoffs were installed on all 71 RPZs this past year. In addition all have city-owned curb stops that I think were shut, too, for winter.

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 02:41 PM
Proper upstream shutoffs were installed on all 71 RPZs this past year. In addition all have city-owned curb stops that I think were shut, too, for winter.When did the city-owned curb stops enter the picture? This detail was missing last year.

ACC
11-22-2011, 02:53 PM
The curb stops mostly leak. This is despite city workers attempting to shut them.

I just reviewed the two threads on winterizing that I started last year, and I see the curb stops did not come up. There was general agreement between the city and the HOA that shutoff valves that belonged to the HOA were needed. The city-owned curb stops are not supposed to be touched yada by contractors except maybe in an emergency.

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 02:59 PM
I never use curb stops unless necessary - I see very few waterworks valves that leak - maybe someone spec'd cheap stuff - with a reliable upstream shutoff, there's no reason to not leave the isolation valve handles at 45 degrees

Mike Leary
11-22-2011, 04:29 PM
with a reliable upstream shutoff, there's no reason to not leave the isolation valve handles at 45 degrees

Duh, never figured anyone would install a backflow assembly without a upstream shut-off. :dizzy:

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 04:44 PM
Duh, never figured anyone would install a backflow assembly without a upstream shut-off. :dizzy:That's what we were looking at a year ago, with no mention of curb stops, leaky or not.

Mike Leary
11-22-2011, 08:53 PM
That's what we were looking at a year ago, with no mention of curb stops, leaky or not.

Any man jack carries a curb-stop wrench and, if he's tight with the purveyor, is welcome to use it as needed. (vise-grips work, but a p.i.t.a.)

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 08:59 PM
Vise-Grips don't work so well when the curb stop is five feet down....

Mike Leary
11-22-2011, 09:19 PM
As I recall, there were two different size long-reaches for curb stops, we carried both.We hired circus people when they would not reach.

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 09:30 PM
I have a couple of those cute little west-coast keys, and a 5 or 6 footer for the real thing. I like the Mueller keys, which fit the extension rod that is attached to every curb stop installed (sized so that a 3-foot key is more than long enough)

Mike Leary
11-22-2011, 09:43 PM
I like the Mueller keys

Me too, a great product.

Wet_Boots
11-22-2011, 10:06 PM
My only gripe with them is when a cover is set right into pavement (admittedly uncommon) and can't be opened like a conventional cover with the pentagonal bolt.