Contractor: Leave Ball Valves Shut for Winter

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by ACC, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. ACC

    ACC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    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?
  2. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 22,831

    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:

    Messages: 18,668

    Why don't you start an online poll and see how many leave it in a 45 degree angle vs shut.
  4. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 26,159

    45 here. Otherwise water can get tapped behind the valve.
  5. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 4,025

    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.
  6. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 49,581

    If the devices are properly winterized, including the isolation valves, then those valves can be shut.
  7. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 22,831

    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:
  8. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 49,581

    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.
  9. S.O.Contracting

    S.O.Contracting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    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.
  10. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 22,831

    Want to explain how to backpressure the #2 check?

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